Inspirational Speaker, Speaking Coach & Mentor Nick Elston
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Dear Nick: 'I feel I am losing control and payroll is constantly with me'

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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.

18th Jan 2021
Inspirational Speaker, Speaking Coach & Mentor Nick Elston
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In association with
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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.”

Nick’s response

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’

 

Setting boundaries

  • 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!

Managing expectations

  • 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.

Recovery

  • 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.

Replies (10)

Comments for this post are now closed.

Replying to memyself-eye:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
19th Jan 2021 13:38

Try "bossing your business" with a well known accounting software product.

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By TalkSense
20th Jan 2021 22:25

Laughed out loud - thank you, I needed that :))))

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By NYB
19th Jan 2021 09:43

At least that has made me laugh - a tonic. When reading the post I thought "I wrote something like that". Then I realised it WAS me.
I think the longer Furlough has gone on the more routine it becomes therefore less stressful.
Its a case of "going with the flow".
I dont pretend - especially in the first few months- that I arrived at some calculations exactly in accordance with HMRC. But I cant worry about that. The claims are correct. Thats the most important.
And I can fully justify my actions

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By dmmarler
19th Jan 2021 12:57

Fortunately we do few payrolls and less furloughs and none on the flexi scheme, so I checked it and see what you mean. On the practical side, work out how much extra time this is taking each month per payroll, and tell your clients. Is this reflected in the fees you are charging? If not start talking to your clients about increasing the rates. It is a cost of their being in business and getting government grants to maintain their business, so perfectly reasonable. If they don't pay you, they will not appreciate what you are doing.

Talk to your other half. Point out how much extra time this is all taking. Negotiate what he is going to do to help out. If he does not want to help with the payrolls, I am sure there are lots of other tasks he could do to cover your extra time at work (we all need a housewife).

The other thing is to keep your workings for each claim. Then you have them set out clearly and do not need to worry about them. It is always tempting to do a quick change because the client gives you late information, but by making sure everything is documented you can stop worrying about it and tell your other half that is where everything is for him to check ... assuming he is your professional cover for the purposes of continuity.

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Replying to dmmarler:
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By NYB
19th Jan 2021 13:44

That's the upside now. Charging. I carried the first three months. Then a one off extra July-November &now a monthly extra. And no one has complained as I explained it all clearly.
As for husband he is running his accountancy practice and should well be retired and he actually hasnt a clue about payroll nowadays.
With regards to files - I always think something "neat" indicates a way of working. I have all monthly workings stapled to gether with the claim form. My Brightpay does a claim form which is professional. And where I have had a few odd issue I have typed a resume of why, and pinned it in the cover of the folder.

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Replying to NYB:
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By dmmarler
20th Jan 2021 14:39

Sounds like you have really got it sorted! I suspect the fact that we have not been able to come up with anything better will be helpful. Hopefully we will all be out of this mess in a few months' time and then payroll will be back to usual.

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Replying to NYB:
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By dmmarler
20th Jan 2021 14:40

Sounds like you have really got it sorted! I suspect the fact that we have not been able to come up with anything better will be helpful. Hopefully we will all be out of this mess in a few months' time and then payroll will be back to usual.

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Replying to NYB:
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By dmmarler
20th Jan 2021 14:40

Sounds like you have really got it sorted! I suspect the fact that we have not been able to come up with anything better will be helpful. Hopefully we will all be out of this mess in a few months' time and then payroll will be back to usual.

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By Mr J Andrews
20th Jan 2021 10:08

There must be countless ''leading inspirational speakers on the subject of anxiety , mental health and wellbeing '' out there .
Rather than detract from what must be a busy workload and follow the ridiculous bullet points mentioned, my advice would to obtain some freelance assistance during this busy time. And think about the likes of frontline NHS staff who just get on with it.
I must confess however to smiling at a couple of the bullet points such as playing a guitar badly and switching off from technology. For those who can remember the days of manual payroll, I would not recommend this advice.
Can I be please be added to the list of leading inspirationalists...........

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Richard Hattersley
By Richard Hattersley
21st Jan 2021 14:34

Unfortunately I have had to moderate some derogatory comments made about the author. By all means express your opinions, but all we ask is that you do this respectfully and constructively. This certainly does not mean denigrating any member of the site. Let me remind everyone that AccountingWEB is a safe place for all. Any one who breaks these rules will be subject to further disciplinary action.

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