April 24, 2015
by Ellen

Finals Again…Time to Meditate!

The buddhist practice of “mindfulness” has been shown time and again to relieve stress and increase productivity. While meditation of the sitting-on-a-pillow-with-your-legs-crossed-and-eyes-closed-while-chanting-”om” variety is considered the “best” way to do it, mindfulness practice is actually very simple and easy to do no matter where you are or what you’re doing, and, if you’re like me, sitting still to meditate is a near impossibility anyway.

Here’s how to do it. The key to mindfulness meditation is “focusing on the breath,” so stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in while saying to yourself, “breathing in, I know I am breathing in.” Then breathe out slowly, saying, “breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” Then take another couple of breaths saying, “in” then “out,” until you begin to feel a little more relaxed. Then breathe in slowly, saying, “breathing in, I am calm,” then “breathing out, I am letting go.” “Calm,” “letting go.” Try to focus only on your breathing. Random thoughts will pop up, like “what are you doing, you should be studying!” or “this is stupid” or “I think I’ll get pizza for dinner.” But keep refocusing on your breath. Eventually you will stop thinking about other things and relax. Do this for a few minutes and then go for a little walk outside to recenter before returning to your studies.

If your brain is just too worked up to focus on breathing, there are other ways to “meditate” that feel more “productive” and will trick your brain into mindfulness. For example, coloring. Yes, coloring — as in kindergarten. There are buddhist symbols called “mandalas” — circles that contain very intricate patterns meant to reflect the universe. If you take the time to color these intricate designs, focusing soley on the act of coloring and the image you are looking act (not the random thoughts that pop up), the effect is similar to other mindfulness exercises. You can buy mandala coloring books in bookstores and online or you can simply print some for free from various websites. Then grab some colored pencils, turn on some peaceful meditation music, and you’re set!

April 15, 2015
by Ellen

A Tax Day Love Story

Happy Tax Day?!

Are you experiencing your first tax season as an intern and feeling overwhelmed? Or maybe studying for your tax final and rethinking your intended practice area?

Don’t break-up with the code just yet! Here’s a story that will make you fall back in love with taxes:  “Beth and Taxes”

Take a minute to watch this beautiful journey. You won’t regret it.

 

April 10, 2015
by Ellen

My New Favorite Four-Letter Word

D…O…N…E.

Yes, “done.” Apparently, saying (out-loud) this little word after you complete a task sets off some kind of magical chemical reaction in your brain that boosts your confidence and increases your productivity. Cool, right?

According to Lisa Evans’s recent article, “Why Saying This Four-letter Word Can Transform Your Productivity”, “when we’re concentrated on a task, the brain’s electrical activity is heightened. But the moment we say we’re done with something, the electrical activity in our brain shifts from being activated and engaged into a more relaxed state…. This new relaxed state then allows us to take on the next task and builds our confidence. The more often you complete a task, the more confidence you build to achieve the next item on your to-do list, allowing you to take on even more challenging tasks.”

To really capitalize on the power of “done,” Evans suggests we prioritize our to-do lists not by importance, but by difficulty and time required — start with the short, easy stuff then move on to the harder stuff that takes longer. Or, if we have one huge project that seems overwhelming, break it into tiny parts, saying done after each step, creating momentum that will carry us through to the end.

Hmmm, does it work?

This blog post is…DONE.

I feel better already :)

April 3, 2015
by Ellen

Choose a “High-Growth” Practice Area

What will be your practice area when you graduate? Who do you want to work for? These are questions that you should carefully consider before choosing your internship and first position as an accountant.

I know, right now, all you’re worried about is actually getting a job and finally making money. But resist the urge to just take whatever comes your way. Take the long view — what practice area will give you the most opportunity to advance? Choosing a path that gives you the best possible future will keep you interested and optimistic about your career (and prevent the burnout that makes you want to abandon ship and start over).

So what are the practice areas with the greatest growth potential? Watch this short featured video on the Journal of Accountancy website to find out: “High-growth areas in accounting”

 

 

March 27, 2015
by Ellen

The Link Between Writing and Career Advancement

Many business students avoid writing courses, thinking that writing is only important for English or history majors. They are annoyed when professors assign work that requires more than a paragraph or so — how well you know the subject matter is more important that how you write about it, right? Nope.

The greatest concern expressed by business executives today is that the latest wave of graduates and entry-level associates are strikingly inept at writing correctly and effectively.  Why does it matter so much? As the team at Grammarly explains in their article “Think Grammar Doesn’t Matter? It Could be Holding You Back from a Promotion”, “Few areas of the workplace are untouched by grammar in some way; even if your job doesn’t directly involve writing, chances are you’ll still need to communicate in writing with your coworkers, management and clients or customers at some point. It all comes down to the impression you make.”

You do your best to look professional when you’re in the office, to sound professional when you speak with your boss and clients. Writing is equally important. How you “sound” in an email, how well you convey your point in a memo, how clearly you communicate your ideas in writing — all of these things create an impression. Writing poorly detracts from your true competence. Your boss and clients will think twice about the quality of your work, and you may find that you are given fewer opportunities than your peers who write well.

It’s not hopeless, however. Even if you’ve run out of time to take some writing courses before you graduate, there are still things you can do to improve. Check out the Grammarly article for several practical suggestions, and don’t forget that I am always here to help. I’m happy to sit down with you and look over anything and everything you have written, whether it’s an assignment, something for your internship, or anything else you have questions about. Come on in and see me!