Accounting Interruptus

When you are in the flow, the last thing you want is to be interrupted.

Usually what interrupts you is another person in their own flow, crossing paths, who wants you to switch gears just for a second.

If you don’t help them out, their flow is interrupted.

If you do help them out, your flow is interrupted.

Another thing that interrupts the flow is a slow program or a slow page loading.

Because your mind is working faster than the computer, you don’t want to put on the brakes and wait. So you switch gears to another program, to give the first program time to load. This is called multitasking. It builds up so that end of the day you find yourself trying to close out of fifteen open, half-completed windows, wondering why it takes you hours to wrap up for the night.

A third thing that interrupts the flow is when an important task invisibly (like a thought or a verbal reminder) pops up on your radar. Not wanting to forget, you either drop everything to begin the new project immediately or scramble for a scrap of paper or for the electronic scheduler to write yourself a reminder. The mere act of scrambling interrupts the flow.

If you are a receptionist or the kind of person who gets calls and questions and barrages or demands every half minute, it is likely you will skip steps, close out items incompletely, send off packages with no postage, checks without signatures.

If you are an accountant and do not have a receptionist to take the brunt of your interruptions, or if your receptionist solves their questions by yelling out the problems across the room so that everyone in the room is blinded into roadkill, well…

It is about opportunity cost. Will switching to a different activity benefit myself, the client, the company, or will it cause more things to be left undone? When things are hectic, each decision needs to be weighed. The beauty of multi-tasking is getting more done in the same amount of time. The disasters of multi-tasking are messing up more in the same amount of time.


During tax season, my house gets messy.

Cleaning is like paying bills. If you don’t do it on time, you get penalties and interest.

When not kept in check, the mess spreads.  A sandwich plate with a few crumbs, that would have taken only a few moments of time to rinse off, inherits the slime of dishes packed on top. Unable to find things that have piled up, I overturn the piles and spread the mess further.

The clients that rebel the most against paying their taxes end up paying the most to the government in the long run. Those who do not set aside money for their taxes, year after year are punished with penalties, interest, garnishments, tax liens on credit reports, and more.

I shouldn’t judge if I don’t set aside the time to keep my house clean during tax season, knowing the consequences. To set aside something requires joy, or an understanding and control of chaos, or just plain discipline if all else fails. It is like exercise and healthy diet – fun to some, sensible to others, and an act of force by the rest. Without it, you get sick, overweight, depressed. It isn’t something you can do only sporadically.

What else is paying bills analogous to?