Procrastinating Too Long and Too Often? 

Maybe "all-or-nothing" is rowing your boat...

Do you find yourself procrastinating quite a bit? As in sometimes putting off projects or goals both large and small, even when they're critical? Even when they don’t intimidate you and no one else is trying to dissuade you? In other words, your procrastination has nothing to do with the “don’t do its” (DDIs)…or with the “can’t do its” (CDIs) or the “shouldn’t do its” (SDIs).

When it’s not one of the Terrible Trio, perhaps your behavior relates to the all-or-nothing (AoN) syndrome. For example, do your first thoughts about a project or goal relate to finishing it all in one go—or at least fairly quickly? And if you doubt you can do that, do you perhaps tell yourself that you'll get to it when you have "more time?" 

Unfortunately, that block of time may not present itself right away. Meanwhile, though, the project or deadline maybe be sending up a lot of smoke signals. Let’s look at how all-or-nothing might play out with your taxes, for example. 

Eating the Tax Rhino

With the AoN approach in ascendance, you’d start pulling your records together only when you have a large enough block of time to do it All. So perhaps you’d do very little until the hour is virtually upon you…even as your accountant taps her foot and wrings her hands.

That’s how I used to address tax prep myself, until it Finally hit me. Hey!—I can eat this rhinoceros a little bit at a time. And so can you. Why try to stuff the whole -rhino down in one sitting when you can snack on it instead?

Got an hour or so? Start pulling together the charity contributions and listing them. When another block of time shows up, sort out your stock sales…or perhaps your mileage deductions. Ditto, with home-business expenses and/or medical deductions, and so on. 

For many (including you-know-who), such an approach can be relatively painless, if “painless tax preparation” isn’t an oxymoron. Just take the process a step at a time until you finish. No panic, no tearing your hair—just a steady march to your accountant or the tax man/woman: bite by bite, step by step. That approach also lends itself well to other tedious paper chores you may be putting off.

A DIY Project You've Been Putting Off

If you’ve already subdued the Tax Rhino, let’s imagine that you’re eyeballing a DIY project, instead. Maybe that bookcase you bought online has arrived at last and now languishes in the garage until somebody assembles it. “Snacking” can work here, as well. So, let’s look at a plausible way to stop procrastinating and get that sucker started And finished. 

First of all, forget putting the project off day after day: just take a single bite. (Hey—I never said I wasn’t bossy.) Perhaps that bite or step could be unboxing the bookcase’s component parts, making sure to safely stash whatever passes for the instructions. If time permits, you might also collect all the pieces in whatever spot you’ve chosen for your bookcase. (Or maybe finding someone to help our, if need be, could be the next step.)

If you run out of time/energy or need to find a helper, perhaps do the moving as a later step. You might also study the instructions, which in my own experience can sometimes be inscrutable. Please be sure that you thoroughly understand these and also that everything you need is at hand.

Then, over the next few days and whenever you have a little chunk of time, start plowing toward the finish line.

Although getting the ducks in a row during the “prep” process may feel tedious, everything tends to go faster and smoother if you do at least some of it before picking up the screwdriver. Trust me on this one, okay? I’ve been there So Many Times. 

Sure, it takes longer, but you also don’t have yourself and/or your significant other or housemate(s) riding your a** about glitches resulting from undue haste. 

So no, the bite-by-bite approach doesn’t get you there all at once, but it can get you there and perhaps also save the peace. 

Bottom Line? Small bites/steps can help a lot of us do big things. So, next time you find yourself procrastinating "unduly," try tackling your project a bite at a time instead. See for yourself how much you can get done that way and how smoothly. You just might surprise yourself…and that rhino as well. And boy will the turtle be impressed.

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