Simple Ideas

Thoughtful Procrastination

Blogging | January 16, 2012

Thanksgiving, Yay, Turkey and the trimmings!

Christmas, Yay, Thanksgiving eats plus presents!

New Year's Eve, Yay, good wine and revelry!

Martin Luther King Day, Yay, start gathering up your tax information.

Ok, MLK probably didn't have this dream, that his holiday would line up with the end of the fun holidays and start the tax season in earnest, but that seems to be his lot in his afterlife. It is about this day every year where I half heartedly start to gather up my tax information.

This is a full two weeks after a coworker, Joe, pops in the office and announces "I'm done my taxes". Now me, knowing the 1099's were not available for our employer for another 5 days said

"Huh, how?"

To which he replied "Now use that 187 IQ of yours for 38 milliseconds..."

Yeah, yeah, yeah...he had the numbers on his year end statements and to "do your taxes" you only need the numbers, not the supporting documents. You can add them later as they become available.

Joe is a sick man, on that point I and most of his relative agree.

I on the other hand look at taxes as something that should be put off based purely on quality of life issues. I do not see the tax filing as a sword hanging over my head. So I feel no reduction in quality of life as I muddle along towards tax day with my filing unfiled.

I have my call with my CPA near the filing deadline. I file almost on the deadline. I get a good chink of money back each year. I am in fact foreging interest income by using this approach.

Don't care.

One of these years, I'm going to drop dead.

My hope is this, that it will be somewhere in that mid January to mid April time frame with my taxes unfiled. I love life. Am in no hurry to move on, but if I kick and as I'm departing have the thought "well, at least I didn't have to file my taxes for the last calendar year..."

Ok, its not a lot, but it is something.

And as a principle, I think it is underutilized.

One of my first lessons as a contract manager had to do with "one of those letters". "Those letters" are the ones you author when you are an "angry young man." You are so sure you are right and the other party is wrong that you lash out with all the vituperative splendor you can muster. You write a focused, well crafted missive that clearly establishes your rightness over the other person's wrongness.

Sending that letter, generally does one of two things. It really hacks off the other party. Or they get a laugh and realize that yes, you really are an angry young man and they know they can use that in future negotiations.

The advice you get from the senior guys in the office after writing this type of letter is always the same. Sure go ahead and write it. Print it out. Then put it in a desk drawer overnight, or even better over the weekend. Then come in the next workday, read that letter and ask yourself "If that letter were addressed to me..." That is usually all the farther you need to go. Then you exhale and rewrite the letter in a way that makes the situation better rather than worse.

Don't get me wrong, I do lots of the other kind of procrastination. The "I should clean the kitchen today but I'd rather surf, bike, gather belly button lint and then drink wine" kind of procrastinating that results in my living in a house that while not unsanitary is also not the kind of place you would see in a Home Beautiful photo shoot.

So in the end, I have to think that even MLK would be on my side on this one. I have to think that he would much rather have his holiday start the annual "slightly unkempt kitchen season" rather than "tax season".

Just a thought.

Any Comments?

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