Tax Season Anxiety Cure #2: Get It Together!

If you’re anything like me, all year long you’ve been collecting a drawer full of receipts like a squirrel collects his nuts. Truthfully, I’m proud of my drawer and every time I open it, I congratulate myself for having it so together!

Or maybe you’re one of those who prefers to keep electronic files or even paper credit card statements with highlighted deductibles. Good for you!

However we do it, it’s both smart and empowering to have a handy record of our deductible expenses throughout the year collected in one spot, so come tax season we simply have to ‘get it together!’  And that is my recommendation for the next two weeks – in order to make that April 15th tax date less daunting, take little steps now to make the entire exercise more fun. Yes, FUN! If you haven’t read my first blog ‘Managing Tax Season Stress: Step 1 (of 3) It’s All In Your Head‘ you may want to read that too! In it, I recommend this –

STEP ONE: Maintain a positive mindset

When it comes to thinking about doing your taxes, replace your old stories of doom and gloom with new, positive thoughts and stories. There are worse things than doing our taxes! Stay present and focused, and make a practice of breathing deeply as you consider how you’d like to approach your taxes this year. Just like you would breathe in a yoga class, watch a sunset or sit in a hammock on vacation. Besides, there is no stress – you’ve still got plenty of time – use it enjoying the process and you’ll forever change your annual experience.

In Step II, I recommend that over the next two weeks you –

keep-calm-and-get-it-together-2Get organized and comfortable with the task. Make tax preparation a mindfulness practice. Discipline yourself to make this a contemplative and deliberate project that you enjoy.

If you haven’t been organizing your receipts in a file all year, do this one task now. Compiling your documents is critical, so do it impeccably. It will make you feel your task is more manageable and you are in control. 

This begins with preparing your workspace. Give yourself room to spread out!

Maybe your desk is not the place to do this – consider a sunny spot on the livingroom floor, surrounded by piles of receipts, or commandeer the dining room table. You can collect travel receipts in one pile, entertainment receipts in another, and so on. Put on your favorite music – ideally a non-distracting soundtrack, but maybe Adele inspires you! We’re not in a race to get this done- take your time and enjoy the process. All you need to focus on right now is gathering and organizing your receipts over the next two weeks. The rest comes later.

If compiling is an overwhelming task, requiring hours of research and organizing, consider spending only two hours at a time on your taxes, then give yourself a reward. A fun movie, perhaps, a hike with friends or your dog, or a drive in the country to clear your head. Also consider giving yourself an earlier deadline. By creating the illusion that you must be complete with your taxes by April 5, for example, you are relieving yourself of the real anxiety of missing the deadline. If you’re using a CPA, have your portion of the work prepared before your CPA needs it. The sooner you get it done, the less time you spend with thinking about it.

I’ll come back in two more weeks – and I hope you’ll have gotten it together between now and then!

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