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?"
But perhaps that block of time doesn't present itself right away. Meanwhile, though, the project or deadline may be sending up a Lot of smoke signals. Let’s look at how all-or-nothing might mess with your tax preparation, for example.
With the AoN approach in ascendance, for example, you’d likely 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.
If you’ve already subdued the Tax Rhino, let’s imagine that you’re eyeballing a DIY project instead. For example, maybe that bookcase you bought online is Still waiting for someone to assemble it. So, let’s look at a practical way to stop procrastinating and get that sucker started And finished.
First of all, forget putting the project off day after day: just do even one thing. Perhaps that might be unboxing the bookcase’s component parts (making sure that you safely stash whatever passes for the instructions). When time permits, you might also collect all the pieces in whatever spot you’ve chosen for your bookcase...or maybe find someone to help with the actual assembly, if need be.
Another practical step? Study the instructions, which in my own experience can sometimes be seriously inscrutable. And another? Gather whatever tools you need.
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. Sure, it takes longer, but you're also more likely to avoid glitches (and fallout!) from undue haste.
Here it is: 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 might surprise yourself...and that rhino as well.
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