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Procrastination Rears Its Ugly Head - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Procrastination Rears Its Ugly Head

 

You may have noticed, if you have looked at a calendar or a Magnolia tree anytime in the past week, that we are in mid-April.  April 12, to be exact.

Unfortunately, J and I have reached this lovely day without having yet filed our taxes.

Part of this has to do with my feeling that the IRS has quite the grim sense of humor because it placed tax day right smack dab in the middle of what I consider to be the loveliest month of the year.  It's so difficult to think about receipts and "What the heck did we choose as our Fidelity password?" when the flowering trees are blooming, the sun is shining, and the Menschkin is bringing his shoes and a jacket to you to indicate his need for a walk to the park.  Now is really not the time you want to be elbows deep in a year's worth of paperwork.

"But Mensch," you're thinking, "you could have filed your taxes at any point after January 1 of this year.  Surely there were some snowy days when you could have curled up with a mug of hot chocolate and your W-9s?"

Sigh.

You're right, of course.  J and I certainly could have handled all this sooner.  And in fact, we did meet with our accountant (which, by the way, is an extra expense that makes life worth living during tax season) way back in...late March.  She took care of all the paperwork we brought with us, and then asked us to send along some more.  Which it's taken me until today to get to her.

And then, of course, there's the IRA contributions that we're trying to maximize for 2011 by actually contributing today.  Which means we have more paperwork we need to get to our long-suffering accountant prior to April 17.  5 days from now.

Once all that is in, we have to find a moment to stop back to her office to sign some things so she can e-file.

I used to have this problem in school, too.  (And to be honest, I still have it as a freelancer).  At 11 pm the night before a due date is the time you really get the creative impulses that lead to great research papers that compare the Russian Revolution to Animal Farm.  (And no, I'm not making up that essay.)  Each year, we promise we'll be on top of things sooner--just like each September, I'd promise myself I'd actually work a little bit on an essay every day from when it was assigned to when it was due.  But over and over again, I find myself staring down a double-barrelled deadline with nothing but fear in my heart and emptiness in my brain.  I think I'm not entirely capable of getting work done unless I'm starting to feel marginally panicked about it.

I know that there are individuals worse than myself.  I remember seeing classmates sidling into a 3 hour seminar class an hour and a half late because they were still working on finishing the project due that day.  I'm proud to say I've never done that.  And unlike one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams, I've never had to have anyone sitting in my house waiting for the next installment in order to get anything done.  (Adams famously once said "I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.")  However, I don't know if being able to say "I'm better at deadlines than Douglas Adams" is the sort of statement that can make one's mother proud.

In any case, I know that we will get our taxes filed, just under the wire.  Our accountant will forgive us.  Our return will come.  Next year, we'll be better!

If you, too, would like to change your ways, I invite you to enter our book giveaway for Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.   Just leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win a copy of the book that will help you understand why you procrastinate, fall off diets, fail to exercise, and otherwise do the things that you intellectually know you shouldn't.  Comment by 12 noon on April 17.  The winner will be chosen at random and alerted via email.

 

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