Set small chunks of time for doing your taxes
No one wants to spend hours organizing and doing their income taxes, so designating small chunks of time with a reward at the end can help incentivize you. Personally, once I’ve gathered up all the paperwork to send to my accountant, I relax on the couch with a glass of wine and a TV show. Plus, you might find the process easier than you thought and become motivated to finish it faster.
Yes, that’s usually what happens after you stop procrastinating, says Pychyl. People wonder why they waited so long to do the thing.
Be empathetic to future you
Getting into the right mindset can help with procrastination and prevent you from kicking the can down the road to your future self. Part of the problem is that your brain doesn’t naturally identify with the future version of you, and instead views that person more like a stranger.
Indeed, in academic studies using a functional MRI machine, the parts of the brain that lit up when test subjects thought about their future self were the same as the areas they used to process information about a stranger.
But you can become more connected to your future self through meditation, says Pychyl. Try to envision how you might feel later dealing with the fallout of putting off the task, so you can better internalize how your procrastination will affect you in the long run.
How to do taxes quicker: Make use of technology
These days there are so many tools to help you file your taxes. Most will also suggest deductions and check your work before you hit the “file” button. If you’re thinking about going this route, one of your next small actions can be to read this article on doing your own taxes, and when it might be better to hire a tax preparer.
Get professional help when needed
If you prefer not to file your taxes yourself, then hire a professional. Make sure you find someone you like and trust and who understands your industry. You can start by asking friends and family for recommendations. Once you find someone you like, make an appointment and gather up all your documents and email them ASAP. That way, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to find that one last charitable donation receipt.
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Don’t wait, start organizing your income tax for next year
This might be a big ask for procrastinators, but it goes back to the small action. Take the time now to create a system to organize your tax documents as they come in, and next year the process will be a whole lot easier.
Be kind and forgive yourself
As they say, to err is human. This isn’t an excuse to let yourself off the hook, but so you don’t get more worked up—since it’s your emotions that feed into procrastination in the first place.