I’ve recently been reading The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel. He presents a very
interesting argument that procrastination can actually displayed as a mathematical formula. Not being that strong in maths, I was a bit sceptical. Basically the formula goes like this.
Expectancy X Value over
Delay X Impulsiveness
It didn’t make a lot of sense to me until I looked at the components off the formula around a task I often put off—taxes!
When I file my tax return, I don’t expect to pay a lot or get a lot back. I also find the forms a bit confusing and I ‘m not always sure I will understand what is required. So my expectation of the tax exercise is quite low.
With lots of busy days doing the things I must do and the things I enjoy, taxes take a back seat. I really don’t see the value in recording all my financial activities for the year.
Although the end of the financial year is in June, the date for filing is 31 October. Four months to avoid the task plus even more time if I ask for an extension or get my accountant to file it. So even more time to put off the dreaded task.
The last component is impulsiveness. I love learning and the opportunity to read a book, browse a website, attend a talk or take a class are many and frequent. Because these things interest me, they are much preferred activities rather than taxes.
So, do I get my taxes in on time? The answer is yes, but my motivation is low. Despite declaring each year I’ll get the task completed in the first month, it usually drags out until the last minute.
There are lots of muttered oaths, many promises to myself to get it done “this week” and lots of distractions as I relive the last year through my receipts for books, courses and seminars. I finally
buckle down in the last possible days to pull together all that I need just in time.
You may find that you too have a procrastination equation for this or some other task. But what to do about it? More on that in the next blog—one I won’t be putting off.
In the meantime, check out Piers Steel’s website http://procrastinus.com
“The best way to get something done is to begin” Anonymous