Dear Nick: 'I feel I am losing control and payroll is constantly with me'by
As the country plunges back into a national lockdown, and accountants and payroll professionals wrestle again with furlough claims, Nick Elston supports a reader who feels like they’re “losing control” and can’t escape payroll.
Dear Nick: “There is only so much one can ‘worry’ about nit picking things. As an independent payroll adviser working on my own, the responsibility sits heavy. The promised "escape" in July, and then November and now April hasn't helped. I know I have an accountant husband but his grasp of today’s payroll is limited.
“The flexi hour system is fine for salaried but an absolute pig for variable hours. I have clients who work hours to 24th month - not good enough for flexi - it has to be the whole month. They can't see why, nor when I explain can they understand what I’m talking about.
“I have to be careful to 'pull back' as I have periods when I feel I am losing control and it seems payroll is constantly 'with me'. Even at night. There is no social escape during lockdown either. I'm sure there are many out there who empathise.”
I’m picking up on this post you made last year as it seems that it really resonated with our readers, but also because CJRS has now been extended until at least April 2021. This challenge will become a growing pain for a lot of people in the profession.
I cannot help with the technical or delivery side of CJRS – you are the smart ones – but what I can shine some light on is the wellbeing elements you touched on and how we can put ourselves in the best place to take on the things that we cannot change.
Actually, that’s a really great place to start: we cannot control the uncontrollable – we cannot control pandemics, what people say, what people do – right through to the CJRS!
So, accepting that, we need to focus on the things that we can control and influence; predominantly, our thoughts and our actions.
It’s what I call (with clients) their high performing day (HPD).
Essentially, it comes down to these three things.
- Setting boundaries
- Managing expectations
- Incorporating daily ‘recovery’
- Accepting what you can do in a working day, but also just as important – what you cannot do.
- Ensure your working hours include regular ‘buffer’ zones to allow for a more effective pace of work.
- Delegate or outsource any responsibilities that you don’t need to do, to free up time for your specialism – even though there may be a cost to this, it’s a false economy not to.
- Ensure you set out plenty of downtime or recovery (see below) time every single day to maintain a positive mental state.
- Focus on the facts, not the story. Anxiety is created by the thought of something, the assumed outcome or the story that we tell ourselves – stick to the process!
- Communicate your new boundaries to your clients, colleagues and family.
- Explain any changes to your business, your processes or your response times – so that their expectation changes.
- Understand that how you used to work in the old reality, may not work in the ‘new normal’ – and indeed, that ‘normal’ may change by this time next month – evolve.
- What can people expect from you right now – with your current circumstances, situation or workload – most importantly, what can’t people expect from you right now.
- Again, communicate those changes to manage expectations and lighten the pressure.
- Build your own high performing day.
- Sleep regularity – by going to sleep at the same time every day and waking up at the same time every day – your body gets used to regulating your energy far more efficiently.
- Incorporate exercise, nutrition and hydration into your day.
- Do something you love every day – for me, it’s playing my guitar (badly) – it’s an immersive, positive ans creative distraction – but my wife may feel differently!
- Disconnect from technology – even try exercises like meditation, yoga or breath work, but either way, switch off for 20 mins at least every single day.
Look, we cannot hide from the current situation or dress it up any better than what it is – but know this will pass.
We will learn from this. We will evolve through this. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll come through this smarter, stronger and maybe even happier if we apply all that is under our control to our daily lives personally and professionally.
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Nick Elston is one of the highest-profile and leading Inspirational Speakers on the Lived Experience of Mental Health.
In life, we can either let our adversities, our challenges, define us negatively for the rest of our lives…or…we can choose for it to forge something beautiful, something powerful – something that never would have existed...