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We’ve all been there. A big deadline is hours away, and we’re too busy channel surfing or sorting the silverware drawer to make any progress on the real task at hand. Procrastination rears its ugly head, just when we can least afford it to. It’s only later that we have to pay the consequences.

Procrastination comes down to prioritization. When it seems like we have forever to accomplish something (even when it doesn’t seem that way), less important tasks find their way to the top of the to-do list. I, myself, went for a long walk, read part of a book I didn’t care about and watched three TV shows I DVR’d last week before sitting down to write this article… about procrastination. Irony aside, with tax season upon us, and the tax deadline drawing closer and closer, here are a few ways to avoid procrastination.

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Stay Organized

If all the necessary materials are in the same place, filing taxes becomes a whole lot quicker and easier. More importantly, a little organization will motivate you to get them finished. It’s much easier to get off the couch and grab one envelope of receipts than it is to track down an entire year of spending. Having to spend a few days gathering materials just increases the odds that you won’t even take that first step. Keep your tax information in one, centralized place all year long. When March or, let’s face it, April rolls around next year, you’ll be ready.

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Set Specific Dates for Progress

Set a date on the calendar to prepare your taxes. Decide which date you’ll head down to the local tax preparation professional. Circle it in black magic marker; program reminders on your computer or smartphone. Setting a date, especially if that means making an appointment somewhere, will define a timeline for completing the task. Setting a date as early as possible will help you avoid the inevitable rush of procrastinators filing their forms in mid-April.

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Don’t Stress

Stress is just a self-imposed roadblock. Making progress on your taxes, or any large task, helps to avoid the inevitable stress of tackling something last minute. Try not to stress over the fact that improper taxes could land you in prison. Try not to stress over the fact that missing the IRS deadline means literally paying the price, in the form of penalties. Instead, take an afternoon off and go have fun, guilt free. This will help you relax and quell the feeling that this task is making you to miss out on life. With all the fun out of the way, those taxes will seem more manageable. You’ll be ready to dive in.

These are the three most helpful tactics I’ve found for overcoming procrastination. If only I’d practiced what I preach back in college… Because if you’re reading this a couple hours before the deadline, these tips won’t do you much good. My advice then is to put on a big pot of coffee, sharpen that pencil and get to work. The time for procrastination solutions has passed.

Tomorrow, when crunch time is over and the W-2s have settled, you can set about solving the procrastination problem for next year. Or at least put it off until later.

Visit the Lighter Side of Taxes at CBS Local.

Kyle Ayers is a writer for CBS Local and KorkedBats.com, as well as a stand up comedian living in New York, Earth. Follow Kyle on Twitter @kyleayers.


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