A Taxing Choice

Despite – or perhaps because of – the Bank Holiday, it has been a busy week so far. Events seem to be slackening for the second half of the week, so my plan to not have much work to do once my wife returns from camp is rocking back onto the rails again. But, it did raise a question I had not had to face since I ceased having a manager to act as final arbiter: is it better to deal with as many difficult issues as possible quickly, or space them out within the time available?

I started completing my online tax return on Saturday. The online return is cunningly coded so it only gives you the relevant sections based on your previous answers.

However, the help files are not similarly cunning. In fact they lack answers to some basic questions.

Because of the Bank Holiday, I had to put it aside until yesterday to call the help line. Again because of the Bank Holiday, the wait times were unusually long. I spent 45 minutes in a queue to obtain two minutes of answers to my questions.

The answers themselves were clear and helpful. Unfortunately, they activated further sections with unclear requirements. So I had to do it all again, this time with a marginally shorter wait time of 35 minutes.

Adding the time I spent going through the online help each time before calling, the brief tidy up I planned before getting in some solid work became an entire afternoon.

Which brought me to my dilemma.

Jasper and Una need spot-on flea medicine approximately once a month, which fell due yesterday.

Jasper being fluffy
Greetings Supplemental Worship Unit
(©Dave Higgins – CC BY NC SA)

Ironically – despite being extremely anti-social when we first brought him home – Jasper will happily recline while I lift up the fur on the ideal spot, align the medicine, and apply it.

Una however, runs at the sight, smell, or sound of flea medicine. So the only way to apply it to her is to wait for her to be utterly at rest (preferably on my lap facing away), and then open and apply the medicine in a single smooth action completed faster than it takes her to notice. Otherwise, whether or not the medicine has been applied, she will hide for an hour or more, run away if approached for several more hours, and flee if someone’s hand comes within several inches of her neck for nearly a day.

So, attempting to apply the medicine to Una is a stressful endeavour that denies me my one of my usual relaxing pastimes: having Una curl up on my lap.

Therefore I was conflicted last night: on the one hand I was already exhausted by the tax return, so spending the evening waiting for a tiny window of opportunity would not spoil a relaxing day; on the other hand I was already exhausted by the tax return, so having a relaxing evening seemed really attractive; on the other other hand I was a mutant in an uncaring world, so…

In the end I decided having fewer things to do today would be more relaxing than a little longer being fussed by Una.

And in the end I was foiled by Jasper deciding I was an acceptable seating substitute for my wife and reclining up my chest, leaving me unable to lean forward quite far enough when Una curled up on my legs.

Do you try to complete all your stressful tasks in a block? Or do you spread them out so you can recover from one before you do the next?

2 thoughts on “A Taxing Choice

  1. The problem for me with stressful tasks is that I’m stressed about them until they’re done. So spacing them out wouldn’t help. If I know something is hovering over me, I can’t really relax anyway 🙂


    1. I have the same issue. However, having worked in law for years where almost everything is at least one of urgent and important, and everything is associated with at least one person who is extremely invested, I know that doing too many tasks without a break switches parts of my mind off.

      So I sometimes switch to an easy task because I know intellectually it will make the stressful ones quicker and easier in the long term.


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