Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Big Black Cloud by Lynne Benton


It’s okay, it’s a metaphorical black cloud, not a real one (there are enough of those about at the moment!)  But this particular cloud will probably be familiar to all those who, like me, leave filling in their tax returns until the last minute, ie January.  Every year I promise myself that I’ll do it in April, the moment the old tax year finishes, while everything is still fresh in my mind.  But every year something intervenes, so I put it off (“There’s ages yet!” – it's still a tiny white cloud far away on the horizon) and off (“There’s too much else to do at this moment!” – a slightly bigger white cloud) until suddenly Christmas is looming, so obviously there’s no point in tackling it then.

And then suddenly, the moment Christmas is over, the little white cloud has turned into a big black one, and it’s hanging ominously over me because I know I’ve got to do it NOW, and I can’t put it off any longer. Everywhere I see drastic warnings about the fine I will incur if I don’t get it in by 31 January.

But, like a great many other people, I suspect, I hate doing it, mainly because I have something of a blind spot where numbers are concerned. 

However, one year I found a most useful book called “The 15 Minute Rule” by Caroline Buchanan.
The writer, clearly a woman after my own heart, talked about the difficulty of getting started on a task you are dreading.  As an example she used… yes, filling in her Tax Return!  (I said she was a woman after my own heart!)  And her suggestion is that you should set yourself just 15 minutes, on a timer, and actually make a start on the wretched thing.  At the end of the 15 minutes you can stop, feeling very virtuous because you have started your task!  Then the next day you can do another 15 minutes, and so on – though she says that quite often by that stage you may decide to go on and do more and get it finished.  She realised that the biggest hurdle is actually getting started.

The first year I tried it, I found she was right – it seemed a whole lot less of a chore.  And I finished the whole thing in less than 3 days, which was brilliant.

Unfortunately I seem to forget about this advice immediately afterwards – until the next January, when I remember it all over again. 

So this year I have decided that I will only make one New Year Resolution.  I will ignore all the usual stuff about resolving to take more exercise, lose weight, write x000 words a day – they will all have to take care of themselves.  My New Year Resolution for 2016 is to FILL IN MY TAX RETURN IN APRIL!   I will re-read the 15 minute rule on the last day of the old tax year, and then get cracking.  I will, I promise.

 Now I tell myself that since I have announced it here, I shall have to do it.  And maybe in my April blog I can announce that I have kept my one and only resolution this year.  I do hope so, anyway.

And maybe next January there will be no sign of any black clouds at all…

6 comments:

Emma Barnes said...

It's never actually occurred to me before that it is possible to do a tax return in April!

Sue Purkiss said...

Am in exactly the same position,Lynne! When I actually get the thing done, I think, "There -that wasn't so hard, was it? Will definitely do the next one in April, while it's still fresh in my mind..." But I never do. Will certainly try the 15 minute rule!

Julie Sykes said...

I collect all the information I need for mine as it comes in, now. It's five or ten minutes of inconvenience well spent when it comes to the end of the tax year!
Good luck Lynne. Sending virtual coffee and chocolate to keep you going xx

Penny Dolan said...

Nice to know I'm in good tax-work company, Lynne. Thanks. Mind you, the snow whirling down outside does make cosy inside work feel like a blessing, even when it involves sums, so not a time to complain! (Am impressed, Julie!)

Julie Sykes said...

Snow! You have snow. I' impressed ;)

Lynne Benton said...

Thank you, all - and Julie, you are a paragon of virtue! (Thanks for the virtual chocolate - much appreciated. Glad to know, however, that there are more out there like me who are full of good intentions, but that's where they stay - intentions! As you say, Penny, if it's snowing it's nice to be forced to stay indoors in the warm, but so far no snow for us, though it's certainly getting colder. Ah well, back to the Tax Return...!