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Get your brain in shape!

Shutterstock_1461408071The busy season is on the horizon, and many practitioners are preparing their firms to meet the demands. But are you getting yourself mentally ready for the fast-paced days ahead? In honor of National Train Your Brain Day on Oct. 13, let’s look at some mental tune-up steps to take before the season begins.

Challenge yourself.

Sharpen your mind with quizzes and brain teasers. You can test your knowledge at many websites. For example, the site for the TV game show “Jeopardy!” challenges you with 12 clues every day that weren’t used on the show. In addition, many daily trivia apps focus on general knowledge or specific areas, such as sports or movies.

Some firms leave games and jigsaw and crossword puzzles in common areas to let team members focus their energies in an enjoyable way.

Take some time with a book.

A quarter of an hour may seem like a lot on some days. But it can make a difference if you spend it on the First 15 Reading Program. The program calls for beginning each day reading for 15 minutes to help expand your mind and center yourself. Learn more and access related resources here.

Learn something new.

Admittedly, the busy season isn’t the best time to learn to play the piano or perfect your backhand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take time to stimulate and expand your mind.

A simple online search will uncover many sites that offer learning opportunities in small bites, including TED Talks and our human intelligence series. Learning can help you take in information and fend off distracting bouts of boredom faster.

Get in the groove (but not in a rut).

Minimizing stress is easier said than done. But it’s well worth the effort since stress “seems to interfere with cognition, attention and memory,” according to a Harvard Medical School article. To counteract the problem, the author suggests getting good sleep, as well as establishing routines and making lists of tasks to help you feel you have more control.

At the same time, departing from your routine sometimes can be a good thing, as when you try a new route to work or otherwise shake up your usual habits.

Have fun!

The PCPS Busy Season Fun Calendar offers ideas to help keep firm members upbeat and motivated. It focuses on group activities, including potluck lunches, baby-picture guessing games and March Madness events.

If your firm isn’t already getting the gang together regularly during busy-season months, consider pointing out that socializing can also help lower stress and pump up mental energy.

Get physical.

Even a small amount of exercise can help refresh you mentally. If you’re stuck at a desk, taking a moment to stretch your neck, shoulders and back every time you sit down can recharge your batteries and cut down on minor aches and pains that can break your concentration

Keeping your brain in shape is worthwhile, and these practical steps are easy to follow. If you start getting in the habit of training your brain now, it will be second nature by the time the busy season begins.

Kari Hipsak, CPA, CGMA, Senior Manager – Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

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