I have just finished my tax return form which needed to be filed by 31st January. Failing to do so correctly and on time would have incurred a penalty of £100 plus interest on any unpaid tax.
My sheer relief and joy of having finished this much put off task was immense. So what can I learn from this for the future?
For a start, it was shocking to learn that I had put off filing the tax return for nine months!
Ever since I received the relevant forms from the taxman way back in April 2006, they have been on my list of things to do.
Every time I even spotted the paperwork, my energy just dropped – it was almost as if I was paralysed into inaction (which is so unlike me).
I dreaded filling it in as it implied collecting lots of disparate papers, filling in many pages of forms, working out long arduous calculations and getting it right.
I also now realise that my negative energy around filling in the tax return goes back to the time when I worked for a Bank.
The working atmosphere was very hostile and the employees were almost bullied about doing their tax returns. But this year in the end this is what it took to fill in the tax return:-
1. The whole exercise took only 4 hours.
2. I was able to collate all the necessary papers quite easily – they were already in my files in the right place.
3. The form was quite easy to fill in as most of the required information did not apply to me.
4. I was able to use the excellent website from the Inland Revenue and work out all my calculations very easily.
5. I was able to file my tax return online and didn’t have to fill in a copy manually and post it.
6. The online filing was acknowledged immediately so I know that it has already been received by the taxman and I don’t have to fret about posting it on time to be received by deadline day.
7. I celebrated and rewarded myself with tea at my favourite place :-).
I learnt that I could have done everything I did nine months ago! I would have saved myself many moments of negativity etc.
So here are the lessons you can learn from this for other areas of your life:-
1. If any task seems daunting, just get started on it.
2. Review why the task seems daunting. Simply by spending a few minutes like this will make the task seem much more simple and achievable.
3. As the deadline for a task approaches, you get sharper and more focused. So give yourself an imaginary deadline.
4. Plan, prepare and collate everything you need in one place.
5. Look for easier ways of doing everything and anything. Applying this key will make a huge difference in all areas of your life.
6. Think of how great it will feel to finish any task, whether it has been long put off or not. Use this though to drive you forward.
7. Reward yourself, in a small or big way – whatever works for you. This will encourage and further support you in tackling future tasks
Just imagine how productive and effective you will become by applying this approach in everything you do!
And nothing will ever “tax” you again :-).
Great post Arvind – thank you for sharing!
I did my tax return last night (with just 3 days to go). I, too, had been putting it off for 9 months.
It took less than an hour.
I motivated myself to do it by promising myself something I knew I would enjoy afterwards.
This year, I’m doing it in April!
As for you 7 tips on making daunting tasks more do-able, they all resonate. I particularly love #2.
We make mountains out of molehills. Perspective is the key – and dumping the drama.
Anyway, well done on getting your tax return submitted on time and avoiding the penalty!
Good to know that you finished your tax return on time:-)
Let us both aim to do it in April this year!