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Beedie School of Business › Accounting
SFU Co-op Student

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Always keep in mind that “the time is now.” Put procrastination into your past and you will feel happier and more accomplished at the end of the day.

How many times have we started a project with a lot of exciting ideas, burning enthusiasm, and high hopes, only to later find it scrapped and buried in the bin? It’s a great feeling to harness such energy in the beginning, but it’s sad how easy it is to lose it after the first few weeks or months. Students often have to work independently or without close supervision.  There is a heavy emphasis on taking initiative and being responsible for your work with minimal instructions during your Co - op work term(s)

Company Background

Olson & Company is a small accounting firm based in New Westminster that provides accounting services to clients throughout the Lower Mainland. Services provided include auditing, business advising, bookkeeping, data processing, payroll, and both personal and corporate tax returns. Many of its clients are in BC’s film industry, which makes the clients’ files very interesting to work with.

Mr. Olson is the owner of the firm and his family members also come into the office to help out from time to time. Thus, the working environment is pleasant and family-oriented.

Getting Things Done

Most of the work that I did as Accounting Assistants revolved around corporate tax returns (T2) and personal returns (T1). I was responsible for preparing the analyses, working trial balances and working papers that would effectively summarize a company’s entire activity for one fiscal year. I also needed to perform a lot of data entry as I entered in the company’s bank statements, credit card statements, receipts and invoices, revenue timesheets, and bills into the Excel spreadsheet. Although it seems like a very tedious task, the analysis of these numbers will allow us to determine how much the company earned over the year and how much it must pay to the government in taxes.

Learning on your own and taking the initiative to ask questions would be challenging for some students. There was much less supervision and direction than a university classroom as there were no real assignments, deadlines, or exams. The following are just a few tips that have worked for me. They may not all apply or work for your job, but my hope is that you find at least one of them to help you stay motivated at work.

  1. Make a list: Your mind will be more settled if you write down your assignments. Take a few minutes each day to write down everything you need to accomplish. This will free your mind from continuously thinking about the 'what' and move on to the doing.

  2. Break things down: When you have a large project to complete, feeling overwhelmed is understandable. Sometimes, a big company file can take a whole week to complete, but it is essential to get past feeling overwhelmed and regain your inspiration. Look at your work list for the day, and break it down into manageable pieces. Then, focus on how to motivate yourself to take the first step. When you've completed the first step, then focus on the next step and so on. You can apply the process of breaking a large job into smaller parts to just about any project.

  3. Set short-term goals: Setting goals and scheduling them gives you a simple task list for your project. You can assign a task or two for each day that you work on the project, and feel comfortable working toward a visible goal. This way you can also work more effectively and without procrastinating, because you already know beforehand what you are supposed to complete each day.

  4. Take frequent breaks: If you find yourself going in circles and getting nowhere, get up and take a walk or fix a cup of tea. Whatever you do, walk away from your work for a few minutes. The work will still be there when you come back. And, renewed inspiration may be your reward for taking a short break. As with parenting a child, bringing a project to fruition is sometimes both challenging and frustrating. When you are frustrated, you are not productive. Invoke the magic of a few quiet moments to collect your thoughts and stretch your muscles. Your work will improve as a result.

  5. Reward your efforts: Even if you had a difficult day staying focused and motivated, reward yourself with something at the end of the day. Just marking something off your to-do list with a fat red marker may be enough to inspire you to get up the next morning and start all over again. With no one to check on your progress, it is up to you to provide your own inspiration. No one can motivate you except yourself.

Always keep in mind that “the time is now.” Put procrastination into your past and you will feel happier and more accomplished at the end of the day, instead of stressed out or regretful. When you are motivated, life is more fulfilling. I hope these self motivation tips help you become more inspired and enjoy work every day.

SFU Co-op Student

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