Nothing sparks procrastination quite like a to-do list of financial tasks. But delaying these tasks can cost you a lot in the long run.
Thankfully, you can trick yourself into productivity by rethinking how you approach your financial to-do list:
Start with your 'why.' Meera Meyer, a financial planner in Boulder, Colo., has her clients review their financial goals, then consider why an item is on their to-do list in the first place. Cross-checking your goals with your list may inspire you to keep that list short. This exercise can also help you prioritize the remaining tasks, so you know exactly where to get started.
Divide big tasks. A big, vague goal is a surefire path to inaction. But when you break that goal down into pieces, it begins to feel doable. Even a tiny step is progress.
Do the right kind of research. Research and comparison shopping are a big part of making a financial decision and can help you feel confident in your choices. But eventually, the research must end and the action must begin. If you feel stuck, here are some ways to move forward:
• Identify where you lack knowledge: You may be afraid to make a move because you have unanswered questions. List your knowledge gaps and start finding answers. Articles from reputable sources can help, as can talking to experts like a financial adviser.
• Shop around, but within a limited scope: If you are seeking a new financial product such as a bank account or credit card, comparison websites and other resources can help you weigh contenders. Be careful, though. Limit yourself to a handful of options.
• When in doubt, ask for help: Sometimes picking up the phone can save you hours of searching online to identify the steps you need to take.
Hold yourself accountable. You have prioritized your goals, picked the one to tackle first and broken it down into small tasks.
Now, assign deadlines and set calendar reminders to nudge you along the way. It may help to work with an accountability buddy — whether that's someone you share expenses with, like a partner or roommate, or a friend who's working toward their own goals.
Regular check-ins with your buddy can encourage you to get stuff done. You may also turn to a financial planner or coach who can assist you in crossing items off your list. The important thing is to get started.
"Don't put off things that are going to be important to getting your financial future on track, because time is money," Martin said.
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