It’s not uncommon for people to procrastinate, especially when it comes to bookkeeping and accounting tasks. I can honestly say that I’ve never once heard someone sit down at their desk and say, “Yay! Today’s bookkeeping day!”
However, the opposite is quite true. I have folks e-mailing me all the time saying, “I’ve always been meaning to tackle this bookkeeping stuff, but I’ve really been putting it off so often that it’s now become a big, nasty project!”
The first thing I want to say about this is that sometimes avoiding something is healthy. Sometimes we need to be in a certain mood or state of being to effectively tackle something.
My own bookkeeping sometimes gets the snooze button for a few days when I’m just not feeling it. And I let myself off the hook when I don’t feel like doing it, because I know, from past experience, that if I jump in when I AM in the mood, I fly through it with joy!
And if there’s a surprising outcome, like less money coming in than I’d hoped and anticipated, I can absorb that information much more easily when I’m in the right space, mentally. So it’s worth it to listen to internal signals about doing or not doing the accounting (or anything else for that matter).
But making sure it’s not a long lasting pattern of avoidance is key.
And I completely understand that fear plays into most people’s avoidance of bookkeeping and accounting tasks. There’s often an underlying fear that you may uncover something terrifying. Even though you may feel like everything in your business is financially pretty healthy right now, you may still have all that fear and worry tied up in the “thought of money.”
But you also know how good it feels when your books are up-to-date. So there is a certain appeal to having it done, it’s just the getting it there that feels overwhelming.
You may even have come to the realization that the fear of doing it is worse than the reality of doing it, but it can still be so hard to take the first steps to get going on it.
When I find myself in that spot, here’s what I do. I use a trick.
I tell myself I’m NOT going to do all of it right now. I’m only going to do X (for example, open the QuickBooks file up).
Then once the QB file is open, I say, okay, now I’m only going to download the bank statement from the bank.
I literally allow myself to choose to stop after each step, saying I’m only going to do the next step and then stop after that.
It breaks down the resistance (the automatic fight/flight instinct within) just enough that soon enough I’m flying through without even realizing I’m doing it ALL! Once I start, I just keep going. And before I know it, I’m all caught up.
I remind myself to use this trick whenever I’m avoiding doing something by thinking of this slogan I learned when on the island of St. Lucia for my honeymoon in June of 2003â€¦ And you’ve got to say it to yourself with an island flair to really make it work!
“Eh Mon, no pressures, no problems!”
So if you’ve been avoiding tackling your bookkeeping and accounting, or any other business or life task for that matter, try taking the pressure off yourself and seeing if you can build a little momentum into your process and it’ll all be done before you even have time to think about how much you don’t want to be doing it!
One last thing to consider: it’s often hugely helpful to have an accountability buddy when you’re facing a big (or even not so big) project. Especially when it’s in an arena of your business that might bring up emotions and fears…
So if you think it might be helpful to work with someone who understands what you’re up against, know that I’m here for you! Even if you just contact me to say, “Jess, I’m starting on this project, can you e-mail me back in a day or two to make sure I’ve done something with it?”
By Jessica Reagan Salzman