Bookkeeping is not my favorite task. Just the thought of it makes me tired! With multiple businesses and personal accounts to tend to, it adds up!
To complicate matters, my husband and I moved to a different state last year so there were additional things to deal with. We also discovered that another business had already claimed the name of one of our businesses in the new state. That meant a name change, among other things. It got complicated!
I confess I let the bookkeeping slide. Between the move, major remodeling projects, and businesses to keep running, I ignored it. I procrastinated.
The more I put off tackling the bookkeeping, the bigger the project got – literally! And the bigger the project got, the more I didn’t want to do it. It felt overwhelming.
With a new year and taxes needing to be done, I really had to get serious! I committed to working on the bookkeeping in one hour blocks of time for one week. I estimated it would take 10 hours to complete it. Timer in hand I went at it. The whole task was completed in about four hours – significantly less than what I had imagined. And once completed – I was elated!
Bookkeeping is not one of those one-time events. It is a maintenance thing. Determined to not let it blow up into another overwhelming project, I have faithfully been spending 30 minutes a week and I am happy to report that I am caught up!
Generally, the dreaded anticipation is far worse than the actual task and it feels energizing when you get it done. So what’s the deal with all the procrastinating? When I dug a little deeper, here’s what I discovered:
When I took the time to explore why I had put the bookkeeping off I realized it was really about not wanting to make mistakes or fail. Because it is not my strength, I already felt a bit unsure about my abilities. I’d rather keep doing the things I do well.
Once I fought those feelings and did the task anyway, it was empowering! I discovered it was not the huge job it had grown to in my mind; not even worthy of passing on to a virtual assistant at this point.
Often, there is something deeper associated with the things you continuously put off. Maybe the task is not your strength, you fear making mistakes, or even worse, failure. It could be you doubt your abilities and feel incompetent. Perhaps you struggle when it comes to making decisions or you can’t let go of the doubts others have had of you in that area. Maybe you have too many other tasks to get done combined with unrealistic expectations about what you can actually accomplish. Whatever it is for you, try to identify the feeling.
When I took the time to reframe my bookkeeping chore and choose gratitude, I was thankful to have thriving businesses to do bookkeeping for. I was grateful that God has allowed me to do the things I am passionate about and the ways He has provided for my family. I was even thankful for the things I had learned through my previous bookkeeping errors.
Often a negative outlook is part of what keeps you from moving forward with a task. What’s the positive in the task?
Whittling my task down to ten one hour blocks made it feel more manageable.
Some tasks are easy and quickly completed. It is the larger, more difficult, and complex tasks or projects that we put off – tasks that we don’t even really know where to start.
Break the task down to combat feeling overwhelmed. List all the steps involved. They don’t have to be in order, and the list doesn’t have to be complete. You can always add or remove items from the list. Pick one thing on that list and work at that one thing until it is complete. Then tackle the next thing. Once you’re rolling, it won’t seem so terrible and momentum will keep you going!
Maybe your task is a hard conversation. Write down all the things you want to be sure to discuss as well as how you want to come across such as kind, loving, firm, gentle, etc. Whatever you have been putting off, resize it.
Taking the time to slow down and think about the information I needed in order to complete my bookkeeping adventure made the process more doable.
When you lack what is needed to do a task you are more likely to procrastinate. Take time to identify what skills, knowledge, experiences, or new mindsets will increase your confidence for this sort of task or project in the future. Do you need to read a book, take a class, do some research, or work with a coach?
5. Get real
I have tendency to be a perfectionist. I am learning that trying counts and mistakes are not the end of the world! They are the beginning of a fresh start.
Many who fall prey to procrastinating are perfectionists. As a perfectionist, you want to do things perfectly. When you can’t, you do nothing at all or put things off until the last minute so you have an excuse for why it is not perfect. Failure feels catastrophic.
Perfect is unattainable! Everyone makes mistakes. You can come back from mistakes better and smarter.
Doing nothing is far from perfect! It is better to do something the best you can in the time you have. The lessons learned from failure are powerful if you let them teach you.
I needed God’s help to face my backed up bookkeeping!
God loves it when you are weak and He is strong. Depend on Him to help you get the task done. Ask Him for help, guidance, and wisdom as you complete the task.
And don’t be afraid to ask those God brings to mind to help you!
As Brian Tracy says, “Everyone procrastinates. The difference between high performers and low performers is largely determined by what they chose to procrastinate on.”
What task on your to do list lingers without getting checked off? What would make your home, business, job, or ministry thrive if you quit putting it off? What tasks should you deliberately procrastinate on because they aren’t that important?