Apparently, the Republican Congressional leadership understands the impulse of procrastination.
Bringing the health care reform bill to an actual vote last week (after months of touting their intentions to repeal the ACA) proved, in fact, to be a difficult task. And so until we hear otherwise, we remain with the status quo. Your opinion of this (and mine) matters little — but what it does demonstrate is the power of procrastination, and its pitfalls.
(By the way, apparently the next item on their list to procrastinate about — tax reform. We’ll see if the results are the same.)
So let’s talk about procrastination today, shall we?
Firstly — are YOU procrastinating about your taxes?
If so, you’re not alone. The most recent IRS data we’ve seen as practitioners shows that overall, tax filing is slower than in recent years. Perhaps that’s because of other system delays the IRS instituted this year. But regardless, people are waiting longer this year.
Perhaps that’s you? Or some of your friends?
If so, you might enjoy this:
Alan Newcomb’s Simple Two-Step Trick for Conquering Procrastination
“Those who make the worst use of their time most complain about its shortness.” – Jean de la Bruyere
I write about this kind of thing almost every year, around this time of the year. I do so because this tax deadline brings our own habits and behavior into such sharp relief, that we finally reach the point at which we can be more honest with ourselves.
So, consider this thought experiment:
When your day wraps to a close, are you leaving tired and satisfied? Or just … tired?
You’ve spent the day in nearly constant activity.
And you may have been procrastinating the whole time.
“Huh?” you say, “I can’t have been procrastinating. I’ve been really busy!”
But that’s the point: when we’re busy, we can easily trick ourselves into thinking that all of that activity means we’re not procrastinating. Yeah, we’re busy — but we’re not focused on the things that should really have our attention. If someone were to tap us on the shoulder and say, “that thing you’re doing — is that the best use of your attention right now?”, we would hesitate to agree.
We’re busy procrastinating.
The explosion of digital channels and the world in our pocket makes it very easy to integrate busy-ness and procrastination. There are a lot of “channels that lead to you.” Email, sure. But also Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and texting and LinkedIn and … etc., etc.
The inputs from these channels come at us thick and fast. That makes it tempting to let the real-time arrivals drive us. Procrastination is always only a click away.
But ask yourself: what are the odds that email at the top of your inbox is the best thing to focus on next? Or that text message that just dinged for your attention? If it’s not, and you choose to deal with it next anyway, then you’re being driven by the “latest and loudest,” and are letting your channels dictate your priorities.
So, if you’re struggling with procrastination, then what should you do? To get it under control, we need to make getting moving on the right things as attractive as possible.
Procrastination usually boils down to:
1) Not Thinking, or
2) Not Doing.
Here’s how to beat each…
1) Not Thinking.
I’m avoiding thinking about things I know I should think about.
There can be all kinds of reasons we don’t want to think about a given item, or issue. Whatever the reason, it is usually because of the size or complexity of the issue.
So, boil it down to its contingent parts, and address the smaller issues within the larger whole. Ask yourself: What’s the exact, smallest action that can be taken to move this forward? And, What do I want to see happen from that action? You can always address those questions.
Which leads to…
2) Not Doing.
I’m avoiding doing things I know I should be doing.
Again, break it down into something smaller. Take the tiny action, do it again … and you’ll find yourself suddenly settled into taking the larger action you had been putting off in the first place.
Here’s one small action…
Consider us “The Ultimate Procrastination Solution”.
Allow us to take the pain away from that big pile of forms and obligations … and allow yourself to move into sustained action on those bigger things.
Bills Tax Service