What's Your Tax Prep Style?

Dear Readers, this is an evolving blog post. I’d love to get your feedback on which terms / descriptions work or don’t work for you!

Work with your nature. 

This is one of my favorite guiding principles. And it's more important than ever when it comes to chores or anything that feels tedious, new, overwhelming. 

What style fits you? ....when it comes to working on IRS tax prep?
(Nicknames are works in progress.)

♥  The truth?: I ignore it until the last minute, then scramble and get it all done. (Phoenix)
♥  I like to start as early as possible. In fact, I already have! I work steadily until the job is done finished. (Early bird)
♥  I do best breaking up a task. I prefer to work over several sessions. (Marathoner)
♥  I like to do the job all at once, on a planned day. (Personal work party)
♥  None of these fit exactly/I'm a mixture. (4 Leaf Clover)

The idea: choose your style. Name it. Claim it. Plan for it. Be at peace with it. Below are a few ideas for each style.

P.S. If you're new to this, I suggest reading the Marathoner description as well as your style.

Phoenix 

Do your thing! No reason to fix something that works. When the time comes, find this email and these tools to offer some help: All-at-once Prep + CalculateBasic. If needed, here's an article if you get stuck somewhere. Perhaps, mark off a day or two around 4/12, 4/13, 4/14 to do the work. Lastly, if you can, clear your calendar on 4/15 or 4/16 to take a break, go to the spa or drive out of town to reward yourself and recover. (I'm keeping this short, because your mind is busy with other things right now. You'll get to this later.)

Early Bird 

This message to you might be too late because you're probably finished. In case I caught you in time, here's an article that outlines the whole process. And a worksheet to capture all your numbers: CalculateBasic. You'd probably like to fill out this second sheet as well: Calculate Next Level. Before you get too far, please be sure to choose a reward for yourself. Set aside some money for it and plan whatever time it takes. Yes, you start early because it's your nature, there's an urge to. That's cool. Still, let's reinforce and reward that nature! We want to keep you happy in your job. If you feel a bit guilty, then it's probably the right amount.
Oh, and here's an article on filing options. As you know, it feels so good to get the appointment for the actual filing on the calendar, whether it's meeting your accountant, filing yourself online, etc. Heads up, there are a few changes this year! A new 1040 and a few new rules. I'll be sharing about that soon. I'm just mentioning it so you plan in a little extra time. If you'd like to dive into research now, here are the 1040 Instructions, start on page 6. 

Marathoner 

Slow and steady wins the race! And, "Life ain't a track meet, it's a marathon." Ice Cube. You know that working slowly over time means less impact on your life, the pain can be spread out. If you've done this before, you've probably got a system already. If you're new / as a reminder to experienced folks: plan several work periods over the next 4 - 6 weeks. Prep time really ranges from 2 hours to 12 or more. Just take your best guess and plan in the time. You can pick a regular day + time, like "Fridays from 1 - 3pm", or choose a time block like "1 hour" to fit into your weekly schedule.  
One option is for you to follow along with the Sidekick Service Tax Prep series coming out soon. I've broken the process into 6-7 steps, and will send an email about each one...so you can follow along with me. If you'd like to space it out yourself, take a look at this article, with worksheets for each step. Or, look at this All-at-Once Prep Sheet to plan your own sessions. I also suggest choose a little treat for each work session and a big Reward for when you're all finished. 

Work-Party Girl

You like to get in the zone; to give this task your whole attention, all at once. Like gearing up for party or 5K, you want to collect all your tools and resources, create the space, and get it done, and done well, and then shut the door and be finished. Tips for you (if you're new/need reminders): schedule three days on your calendar: 1- Personal Tax Work Party, 2- Time OFF to recover/reward yourself, 3 - Follow-up Tasks.
Create a space in your house to collect all of the things you'll need. Tax documents coming in the mail, bank statements, receipts, etc. Perhaps print out this sheet Collect Stuff. You can use it to slowly collect items prior to your Party day, or, do it first thing that morning. Consider getting a friend to hang out with you. Oh, and if you're the cook in your house, arrange for someone else to handle meals or to go out for dinner. Be sure to have a breakfast and lunch you love, plus snacks on hand. On that day, I suggest printing out these two sheets:  All-at-once Prep + CalculateBasic. Here's an article if you run into questions.

Four Leaf Clover 

Perhaps none of these fit, you're a combination, or you're new to this and just don't know. Or, maybe you're a rebel and as soon as someone tries to type you, you don't like it! That's cool. I get that we're a spectrum and not everyone fits into boxes. A few ideas. First, find a way to name your own style. Think about what's true, even if you're different/changing all the time. The reason? It's empowering to claim what we do naturally and then we've got a strategy to stick to.  
Next translate your style into some logistics. Do you want to plan ahead, wait until inspired, ignore? Three Options for you. 1) read through the tips for the other styles, and whatever sounds good/calming/easy, then do that. 2) Plan to follow along with the Sidekick Service emails over the next 6 weeks. If it sounds good, do the work suggested for each. Then, if you want to jump off at any point, please do! 3) Look at this All-at-Once Prep sheet. Or skim this article. Then ask yourself this, Now that I see all the work involved, how do I want to tackle it?


Once you discover your name + system, I'd sure love to hear about it. Please email me at jennygirlfriday@gmail.com

I'm excited to hear what you think of these Styles + Tips! 

• Rewards Are Important + Rewards Menu

It is SO important to give ourselves rewards...and on a regular basis.  For chores, celebrations, or just because. (They are essential for tax season.) 

Who would run a 5K if we didn't get some swag at the end? Who would keep playing video games without achievements and level-ups?  They keep us motivated, feeling satisfied, and happy.  They are an important part of self-management.

Strangely, one of the biggest reasons we forget to reward ourselves is that we're often too tired after a big push to decide!  The solution?  Decide ahead of time what kind of rewards you like to get. It's good habit to assign specific rewards to specific tasks, and, to have a general list, for when you need one on-the-go.

Make up your own, or print the one below.  Fill it out, and hang up somewhere visible.

Click on the image to get a downloadable PDF.  You can also find this menu along with other helpful tools on the Tools For Download page.



: )  Jenny Girl Friday

P.S.  Did this help you?  Please share freely with friends. I think self-employed folks are keeping the soul in Seattle.  I want to make the chores of business easier, so you all can keep being awesome.  

P.S. 2 Are you signed up for Sidekick Services via email?  Get reminders and links to how-tos delivered right to your email inbox.  :)