I wish I hadn’t procrastinated.
The room was still dark when I woke up this morning. Squinting at the clock, I read the glowing numbers: 4:25. Ugh. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but my brain had already switched on—then immediately kicked into overdrive. I tried to tell it that I didn’t need to get up for another two hours, but it wasn’t listening. “Taxxxxesssss,” my brain hissed, reminding me of Gollum.
That’s right. Today is the deadline. I can’t put it off any longer. I have to fill our my quarterly sales tax forms—one for the city and one for the county/state. I imagine the FBI knocking on my door in the middle of the night and dragging me away for sales tax delinquency. I shiver.
“Sales tax? That’s all?” you ask. “What’s the big deal?”
It isn’t a big deal, really—except it is. I hate doing any sort of bookkeeping. My brain turns into a fog bank every time I open my accounting software, and I tend to make mistakes. Big mistakes. This really makes no sense, as I was good at math, and I have the sort of detail-oriented, organized personality that drives creative-crazies crazier, but it’s true none-the-less.
While adding up a few columns of numbers and multiplying by 2.45% may not intimidate you, I bet there’s something else that does. We all have those jobs we have to do, but that we hate doing. Writing reports, cleaning the bathroom, weeding the garden… there are plenty of candidates for “worst chore.”
The question is, what do we do about them? Some admirable individuals follow the oft-given advice to “get them out of the way.” They do these chores first, and then can coast for the rest of the day, knowing that nothing worse is going to come along.
I’m more in the camp that procrastinates. The due date isn’t until next week? No problem, I’ll do it Monday. I just don’t feel inspired right now. I’m sure I’ll be in a better frame of mind later. I already have plenty of things I need to do today.
The problem is that the longer I put the task off, the bigger it grows—perhaps not physically (although in some cases, such as mowing a lawn, it does get worse), but certainly in my mind. I begin to stress over it. It keeps me awake at night—or wakes me up at four o’clock in the morning. It sits there mocking me until I feel helpless against its overwhelming force.
So today, I got up, ate breakfast, spent some quality time with God, talked to one of my best friends and prayed with my spouse. I read my favorite blog and left a comment, then checked one of my own blogs to make sure the post I had queued earlier had actually posted.
And then I sat down at my desk, begged God for help one more time, and filled out my sales tax forms. They took me approximately half an hour.
I had to make sure I had entered all my sales into my spreadsheet, run the numbers, reread the tax form instructions (are they ever picky!), and carefully fill out the practice forms in pencil. Then I transferred all the numbers onto the real forms, wrote the checks, stuffed and sealed the envelopes, and added a stamp to each one. Later I’ll walk down to the mailbox on the corner.
There. That wasn’t hard at all!
All those hours spent dreading this chore. All that snooze time I missed out on. The high blood pressure, the mini Hershey bar (stress = chocolate cravings), the upset stomach. All solved in thirty minutes. I feel so… human.
They say that success breeds success. I treated myself to a chocolate chip (yes, one—I’m not supposed to have sugar and I’d already eaten the Hershey bar), and made a cup of tea. Then I tackled the research for that blog article that sounded like such a great idea several months ago, but that seemed overwhelming when I actually sat down to write it. If God and I can do sales tax calculations, then God and I can do anything!
Do you procrastinate? What chore do you avoid the most? How do you force yourself to finally deal with it and get it done?