Don’t Do Your Books All At Once
True confession: I did an entire year’s bookkeeping for my small business in roughly 4 hours in August of the following year.
Otherwise known as: Please don’t do this.
Note to Self: Never again!
So the good news is that I did it and it’s done, sent off to the tax preparer with plenty of time for her to meet the extension deadline. This good news was only made possible by the fact that I do this work for a living and am, even if I’m not reconciling my own books on a monthly basis, supremely organized and equipped with the very best tools, which facts makes this kind of bullshit procrastination somewhat easier to sustain than it might be for someone with different, non-transferable skills. Re the extension deadline: this is a function of me always putting other people’s needs first, so that my own tax-related work has consistently taken a back seat, ever since I started my own business doing other people’s books for them.
I’m making it a credo henceforth that my own self-care includes integrating this financial work on a monthly basis for my own damn self so that I can reap its many benefits.
Even if I CAN do it, why do I not recommend this practice?
Only looking backward, never forward
The bad news in this situation is that I can only look back at these numbers. That’s the function of most bookkeeping, really: to give you information about what happened.
The really good stuff? When you can use that data about what happened to impact what COULD happen.
Sure, I had rough info about how I was doing, but because I wasn’t spending focused time reviewing my results on a monthly basis, my numbers lost their potency to drive my decision-making in the here & now. Current financial data at your fingertips gives you choices right now — Spend less? Save more? Earn better? — to impact the now & future.
Avoiding the Uncomfortable Truth
In my own defense — not that such a thing is necessary, qui s’excuse s’accuse — 2020 was insane with work and stress and we all lived through it so it’s not really a good excuse, right? But seriously, I had my hands and head full of keeping my people in good standing and good spirits, connecting them to resources and help, buried in work that felt purposeful.
But that doesn’t seem like enough to me. Because I know that some of this leaving it to August, is about avoidance. See, I’m human like you. Sometimes when I know the picture’s not gonna be what I wish it were, when I’m going to have the opportunity to evaluate my decisions and perhaps not love what these decisions led to, yeah, then like lots of humans, I’m not alone, I’m gonna focus on any other thing that spares me that discomfort. Human.
Agency over Anxiety
Also human? Learning from that and choosing never to do it again. I just cheat myself when I do this. It never makes things better, really, since all that anxiety just piles up and piles up and overcomes my ability to sleep, eats at my peace in every other moment. So much better to avoid the avoidance, you know, at least for me. To create structure, block the time in my calendar, to do the thing myself that I help others to do: prioritize my own peace of mind by doing the work. Plus it puts all the tools into my own hands, pro-action not just reaction.
Also human? Feeling split between what I say and what I do. Ugh, that internal inconsistency is just not a good feeling.
So now that I’ve done all that work, all that catch-up in August, I’m on it. Got this year caught up already, and then on to a monthly program, like the one I support others with. So I can use those numbers to make good decisions, impact the now, impact the future.
You with me?