In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to push aside the administrative tasks that seem daunting or time-consuming. Yet, when tax season rolls around, many find themselves overwhelmed by the mountain of financial paperwork that has piled up. The principle of tackling big tasks in small, manageable chunks isn’t new, but it’s astonishing how often it’s overlooked, especially when it comes to managing our finances.
As the well-known organising consultant Marie Kondo says, “The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.” This philosophy can extend beyond just cleaning your home to managing your financial environment as well. By dedicating just a little bit of time each month to organising your financial documents, capturing expenses, and revisiting your budget, you can avoid the stress and scramble that often accompanies the end of a tax, financial or calendar year.
David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done,” emphasises the freedom that comes from having a complete and organised overview of your tasks: “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” Applying Allen’s method to your financial admin means capturing all your tasks and information in a trusted system outside your head.
This could mean scheduling a monthly financial “review” day on your calendar, where you check statements, log expenses, and adjust your budget as needed. By doing so, you’ll free up mental space for more creative and productive pursuits, knowing that your financial house is in order. This method also makes it easier to share your financial situation with others who may need to step in or support you.
James Clear, in his book “Atomic Habits,” speaks to the profound impact of small changes over time: “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” Just as a single degree of change in direction can significantly alter a ship’s course over a long journey, so too can small, regular efforts in co-ordinating your finances lead to a considerably less stressful tax or holiday season.
So – for those who dread the end-of-year financial frenzy, the solution is simpler than you might think. Start by setting aside a little time each month to deal with your financial admin. Break down the tasks into small, achievable goals: today, you might capture and file your receipts; tomorrow, review one month’s bank statements. Over time, these tasks become part of a routine, transforming a once-daunting process into a series of simple steps.
Remember, the goal isn’t just to be prepared for tax season; it’s to create a sense of calm and control over your financial well-being. In the words of Anne Lamott, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Sometimes, unplugging from the chaos of procrastination and plugging into a routine of regular, planned and intentional action is all it takes to transform your approach to financial admin.
So, as we move through the year, let’s embrace the principle of doing a little bit each month. It’s not just about avoiding the last-minute rush; it’s about empowering ourselves to live less cluttered, more organised financial lives.