Friday, March 17, 2006

Taxes

If you’ve been wondering where I am and why I haven’t been posting more often, well, I’ve been doing my taxes. (Hey, I see you out there making signs to ward off the evil eye!)

I’m usually very organized with my tax information. This year, with the moving and all, I’m finding that I misplaced information and receipts and it’s taking more time than I like to dig it out. In addition, having moved from one state to another complicates things in all sorts of ways and expenses and income have to be allocated to each instead of just lumped together.

But that gives me a chance to mention my approach to anything like taxes. By that, I mean things that can seem overwhelming and unpleasant (especially since I think I may owe money). I’m talking about tasks that we may want to put off because we dread doing them.

The problem with putting things off, of course, is that they always take more time than we expected and unexpected things crop up. Also, if we are doing them at the last minute, panic might set in and our brains literally do not work as well when we are scared. Plus, life may throw other things in our way.

So....how do I approach things like taxes? I do them in small blocks of time every day until they are done. I might start out working for 15 minute blocks of time doing whatever piece of the work is easiest. I don’t always do it beginning to end—I may start in the middle if that’s easiest. This builds the experience of success for me and I feel less overwhelmed and more confident I can do the task—whatever it may be. Plus it means I get a bunch of stuff out of the way and done so that I can focus on the harder or more complicated sections knowing I already have a certain amount completed.

It’s never going to be fun to do taxes. It’s never going to be something I enjoy. But this way I know that I have enough time to get them done and I can stop the moment I start to feel overwhelmed. I have time, when I get confused, to step back and think about it until I understand and/or remember where the information is that I need.

The other piece of it is that each time I complete a task; I do something that makes me smile. This lets me begin to associate pleasure with doing something that I otherwise dread. It makes me more relaxed and then my brain functions better. Often, as I’m doing whatever it is that makes me smile, I will suddenly understand what was confusing or remember where the information is that I need.

So that’s why I’m not posting as often. But I am thinking of all of you—especially those of you also wrestling with taxes now.

April

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