Reasons you haven't done taxes - From Rags to Reasonable

I have been reading a really great book called “The Productivity Project”.. in an effort to be less of an organizational disaster.

It may not be ‘working’ yet… but I’m still really digging it, and I stumbled across something that I just had to share with you… especially those of you who haven’t managed to start their taxes yet… #nojudgement

It has to do with ‘procrastination’ … something that I’m really really good at. The author Chris Bailey (henceforth known as ‘other Chris’) talks about the 6 triggers of Procrastination.

In his research he stumbled across a study that stated that you’re more likely to procrastinate if the task at hand is one or more of these things:

  • “Boring
  • Frustrating
  • Difficult
  • Unstructured or Ambiguous
  • Lacking in personal meaning
  • Lacking in intrinsic reward (i.e., it’s not fun or engaging)”

Sound like any task in particular…?

Yup, his perfect example of something that hits on all 6 trigger points… TAXES.

If you’re interested in the nitty gritty nerdy details of how this all works on a brain level (and how to combat it) you should definitely pick up his book or visit HIS BLOG.

How to beat the triggers and gain your taxation victory!!!

Other Chris suggests that you attack each trigger head on, and so I was thinking about this chapter a lot as I was putting off my taxes (like a champ).

Here’s what I did… and what other Chris suggested…

Let’s see whose advice is the most helpful:

6 reasons taxes 1

Fighting boredom:

  • What I did: turned my taxes into a blog project. It’s less boring when, after you calculate your deductions, you make fun cartoon pictures of animals. #12daysofdeductions
  • What ‘other Chris’ suggested: I go to my favourite café for an afternoon on Saturday to do my taxes over a fancy drink while doing some people watching.”

Fighting frustration:

  • What I did: At about the half way point in my taxes I got so mad… I was convinced I hadn’t saved enough… I couldn’t find receipts I knew that I had…
    I went for a walk. I made a great dinner. I hung out with my girlfriend. When I came back… it was way better.
  • What ‘other Chris’ suggested: “I bring a book to the same café, and set a timer on my phone to limit myself to working on my taxes for thirty minutes.” (unless he’s on a roll)

Fighting the difficulty:

  • What I did: This is why I love having an accountant. I email her whenever I have questions, and she always responds promptly (even though she’s insanely busy). It really helps that I know that if I get stuck, I have a resource to help me out of it.
  • What ‘other Chris’ suggested: “I research the tax process to see what steps I need to follow, and what paperwork I need to gather.”

Fighting the Ambiguity:

  • What I did: This is where my accountant helps again. She sends out a worksheet with boxes that I have to fill. So I know exactly what I have to do next. I really like the money I spend on my accountant.
  • What ‘other Chris’ suggested: “I make a detailed plan from my research that has the very next steps I need to take to do them.”

Fighting the fact that you really don’t care:

  • What I did: Taxes make me afraid… so I’m pretty motivated by fear. Fear of an audit. Fear of getting colourful letters from the CRA.
    But also… when I get really disconnected I just look at this site which pegged average US medical insurance costs at $17,000 a family.  It usually makes me way more grateful for the money that I’m paying to the government….
  • What ‘other Chris’ suggested: “If I expect a refund… make a list of the meaningful things I’ll spend money on.”

Fighting the lack of fun:

  • What I did: Look. I think taxes are really interesting, but I don’t have ‘fun’ doing them, and I didn’t have ‘fun’ this time. Maybe next year I’ll do a better job at this one…
  • What ‘other Chris’ suggested: “For every fifteen minutes I spend on my taxes, I set aside $2.50 to treat myself or reward myself in some meaningful way for reaching milestones.”

So… which Chris has the best advice?

Hint: It’s him, you should definitely buy HIS BOOK.*

*for you skeptics out there, I don’t get an affiliate link for this recommendation. I just really like it, and think you might too.