Wednesday 08th April 01:45

"Taxing Your Patience"

MTL Newsletter January 20th 2013

Hi everyone,

In the UK, the end of January always marks the deadline for filing your self-assessment tax form. Even though I receive a letter just after the tax year ends in April, suggesting I do this at once, I still find myself at the end of January with this task undone.

And I'm not alone. According to tax office sources, some 4,032,096 people are in the same boat, having left their own online tax returns to the last minute.

So, why do I and 4 million others let things slide when most of us could get the job done and off of our to-do list well before the deadline?

I think there are 3 reasons, each of which could apply equally to other kinds of procrastination.

The first is, lack of motivation. Most of us don't fill in the form because we don't have to. It's only the impending penalty of late completion - a 100 fine - that makes us do it when the deadline looms, proving that nothing works better to motivate us than the prospect of pain and the loss of money.

The second reason is because most of us believe that the task is an unpleasant one. Tax returns just don't seem like a fun way to pass the time, even though when we eventually get round to it, the process is fairly innocuous and even rather satisfying.

The third reason is the reason that hurts most. It's because I just don't practise the Nike slogan, "Just Do It", even though I've given this advice to so many others, usually with my own variation of "Do It Now!". Somehow or other, whenever I know I should do it when that first reminder arrives and at every subsequent reminder, I'm always able to find something else that I think is more important. And the reason I don't "do it now" is because I don't have a system that makes me.

Maybe these 3 reasons hold the clue to solving procrastination in other areas of our lives too. That bit of DIY might get done if it's going to hurt me not to do it, if it's going to be fun, and if I created a system of doing it now.

By the time you read this, I'm sure I will have completed my tax return. In a couple of months, I'll be receiving a reminder to fill in a new one. Will I act promptly and efficiently as I know I should? Or will you be reading this all over again this time next year? Somehow, I think I already know the answer.


(c) ManageTrainLearn 2013