THE BLOG
05/31/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

ADDishness and Slogging Through Tax Time

At the risk of offending any of you tax preparing professionals out there who love your work, may I say that I am being brutally challenged as I prepare for my tax appointment this Friday. As someone who is almost always capable of maintaining good cheer and enjoying myself, the tediousness of entering numbers into Quicken and doing the checks and re-checks is, for me, excruciating.

In the midst of one of my many (many) forays to get a drink of water, clean out the junk drawer, or engage in any of the interesting activities I came up with to distract myself from my dreaded task, I took Rosie (dog) for a walk in the creek. (While it's true that I seldom do this on non-tax prep days, she urgently needed to go there.)

As Mother Nature worked her magic, I began to crawl gratefully back into my skin with a sense of comfort and ease, and had a major epiphany about how similar my situation was to that of the majority of school-age children, come Homework Time, calling to mind one of my favorite analogies (courtesy of Jane Fendelman) which I use when I give presentations on ADD'ishness (which, as you may have guessed, I speak about from personal experience.)

Imagine this: For reasons that remain a bit sketchy, I become authorized to choose your profession. I've decided that it's going to be doing taxes. You're going to work on taxes five days a week, six to seven hours a day. Any tax returns you don't finish during the day will need to be finished in the evening. In addition, I'm going to have you do some practice tax work most evenings to help you "sharpen your skills." You're going to have this job nine and a half months a year for 12 years. For the most part, you are not to talk with others while doing taxes. Your work needs to be tidy, clean, and accurate. In addition, if you dawdle in the morning instead of moving efficiently to get out of the house on time for your tax job, I'm going to threaten, punish, or shame you. If you complain about going to your tax job, I will scold you. If you balk at doing the extra tax work you're given to do in the evenings, I will lecture you.

Now imagine how it feels to do this day in and day out, with no light at the end of the tunnel. If doing taxes is difficult or painful, consider the potential for depression, fatigue, and powerlessness at having been forced to do this job. Imagine the physical agitation, the restlessness and squirmy feelings pushing on you from the inside out, wanting to break free of feeling trapped in the tedium and have some fun!

Resistance, excuses and avoidance all make sense when we're faced with doing something we strongly dislike. I'm not saying adults shouldn't have to file tax returns, or that children shouldn't have to do homework. But I am saying this: Cut your kids some slack when it comes to dragging their heels about homework! Lighten up on the sermons, and back off from the rebukes and threats. Acknowledge their dilemma with understanding and humor--and an occasional game of catch to help them get their ya-yas out. A little empathy goes a long way toward lessening stress when we're faced with tasks that we strongly dislike.

As for me, I'm making progress. With plenty of breaks and some good tunes in the background, I should not only be finished getting my tax stuff together by Friday, but my kitchen drawers will probably be cleaned out, along with the linen closet and my CD collection. And then there's that photo album project I've been meaning to get to...