The Importance of Personal Energy Management for Accountants

Gusto Editors

Are you able to manage your energy levels effectively?

Energy management is critical for your professional success. Accounting can often be professionally and emotionally demanding, especially during times of economic uncertainty. You need to learn how to optimize your energy levels to improve your professional performance and emotional well-being. 

Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, gave an exceptional webinar all about energy management and how you can improve your energy levels titled “Managing Your Time and Energy During Unprecedented Times.” It primarily aims to address managing energy levels during times of societal stress, but the principles can be applied easily to other circumstances.

In addition to this webinar article, Part One, you can also read Part Two of this webinar series to learn more energy management tips. You can also watch the full webinar here

Our featured expert was professional coach Amber Setter. Amber is an inactive CPA and an actualization coach. In this article, she’ll teach you all about the importance of managing your energy levels, the benefits of breathing exercises, and why you should check in with yourself during difficult times. 

The value of personal energy management 

Learning how to manage your energy is crucial for both your productivity and overall well-being. Knowledge economy jobs, like accounting, are incredibly demanding on individuals’ energy levels: 

“Energy management is critical information for knowledge workers. Your energy is what serves as the fuel for your performance. … The accounting profession is known for placing a high demand on a professional’s energy.

Amber Setter

Accounting is already an incredibly demanding profession, but has become even more challenging as increasing numbers of employees shifted to working from home. Like many office workers, accountants who work remotely, have encountered challenges like isolation and difficulty establishing a healthy balance between home life and work: 

“This experience … is really being amplified, and anxiety is running at an all-time high. We’re being asked to work remotely and collaborate in new ways. We’re being challenged in our relationships, either because we have too much proximity to certain people … or don’t have enough proximity. We might not have access to our normal self-care routines. And many of us lost the cadence that provided the necessary structure for our performance.”

Amber Setter

Facing new challenges at work can be incredibly demanding on our energy levels and sense of well-being. Knowledge economy workers continually face new challenges, and accountants have had to work in new ways and perform new tasks. For instance, many small businesses faced incredible adversity during the pandemic, and accountants had to help small businesses stay afloat: 

“The demands from work are at an all-time high because we’re being asked to lead our organizations [and] clients through very complex changes.”

Amber Setter

During challenging times, many accountants find themselves performing tasks considered atypical to their profession. They may have served as advisors for small businesses and assisted them in loan applications, extensions or other services outside their usual scope. 

Arial view of female looking down on papers with hand on head

Throughout your career, you’ll face new challenges and tasks. Performing new, complex tasks for your clients and your firm can be challenging, and the resulting stress may affect your overall energy levels. It’s crucial that you learn how to handle stress in order to work more effectively and improve your sense of well-being. 

Stress management breathing exercises

Amber provided a simple and effective way to combat stress and effectively manage your energy levels. This breathing exercise can be used to combat stressful situations and circumstances that may negatively impact your energy levels. Amber explained the benefits of deep breathing: 

“Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and to relax, and the brain sends that message down to your body. … According to physiologist and breathing expert Alison McConnell, taking six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day using this breathing technique can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.”

Amber Setter

Practicing deep breathing can help you better manage stress, and it even has physiological benefits. An optimal way to begin deep breathing is by breathing through your belly rather than your chest. Amber cited Dr. Katherine Rosa in discussing how we should engage in deep breathing: 

“[Dr. Katherine Rosa] said that you should breathe like a sleeping child. And if you ever watch a child sleep, they all breathe from their belly and not from their chest. And this relaxed state is the more normal way to breathe.”

Amber Setter

Breathing through your belly is critical for engaging in calming breaths. Many people breathe through their chest when experiencing stress, which only increases stress levels: 

“Most people are chest breathers, and that’s how we react to stress. If we sense a threat, our fight or flight response automatically kicks in. And we’ll start breathing at a rapid pace to suck in extra oxygen to fuel our heart and muscles so we can flee [from] the danger.”

Amber Setter

Our fight or flight responses are helpful during times of danger, but we shouldn’t engage our fight or flight response when facing day-to-day work tasks. If you access your fight or flight response when feeling stress, you’ll have even more difficulty calming down. 

So how can we begin breathing from the belly? 

“Place one hand on your chest, the other on your belly, and take a deep breath in through your nose, [and] not through your mouth. … You just want to allow [your] diaphragm to inflate with enough air to create a slight stretching sensation in your lungs. And then slowly exhale.”

Amber Setter

Amber advised that everyone take the time to perform this calming exercise. Take a moment to follow Amber’s instructions and breathe through your stomach six times. If you’re taking slow belly breaths, you should feel much calmer after your sixth breath. 

Female sitting at desk with laptop in front of her with hands resting behind head with eyes closed

Bottom line: Breathing exercises can help you overcome your day-to-day stress, and your ability to calm down will help you regain your energy levels and increase your productivity

Checking in with your energy levels during difficult times

Difficult periods can result in adverse effects on your energy levels and your mental well-being. When people  experience a great deal of economic and personal difficulty,t people should address their feelings : 

“When we try to operate, disavowing … our grief, our frustration, and our worry, all of those feelings lie beneath the surface. And when you have all those disempowering feelings, that impacts your performance and your energy to lead and do your work.”

Amber Setter

You need to address your feelings rather than ignore them. Otherwise, you’ll negatively impact your work performance and energy levels. 

Facing stressful periods and situations can be incredibly revealing for your emotional well-being. Amber cited author Wayne Dyer, who said that stress caused by external circumstances reveals the emotions residing inside of you:

“[Wayne Dyer] says, ‘When you squeeze an orange, you always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what is inside. The same logic applies to you. When life squeezes you or puts pressure on you and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what’s inside.'”

Amber Setter

External factors that create stress in your life can bring out the negative emotions you were already struggling with, like anxiety or anger. With whatever difficult moment you may be facing, whether it involves external events or personal issues, you need to reflect on how times of difficulty affect your emotions and energy levels: 

“There’s a lot of … uncertainty in the system, and human beings do not like change. I put all of this in the space in order to help you effectively manage your energy. Because to do so, you need to really slow down and have a look at where you’re at.”

Amber Setter

It’s critical for your productivity and personal well-being to check in with yourself and establish how external and personal events affect your mental health and energy levels. Right now, take a moment to address your feelings around events occurring in your life. Whether it’s a global event or a personal issue, take a moment to check in with how you feel so that you can manage your energy levels. 

Learn more about energy management

Managing your energy levels is crucial for your success and mental well-being. You can begin managing your energy levels by implementing breathing exercises and addressing your emotions surrounding global and personal events. If you’re ready to learn even more practical ways to manage your energy levels, make sure to check out Part Two of this webinar article series. You can also watch the full webinar here

If you’re an accountant, consider joining Gusto’s partner program. Gusto will help you expand your accounting practice and provide invaluable services for your clients and automatic state and federal tax filings for businesses under 100 employees. You’ll also gain access to a free payroll subscription for your firm along with additional benefits, like health insurance and 401ks. If you’re ready to grow your firm and gain access to great tools for your clients, sign up here

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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