It took me far too long to learn this lesson, and it cost me a considerable amount of money, time, and aggravation.
If there's something you don't want to do, there's just about two good strategies for dealing with it:
Strategy #1: Understand the consequences of not doing it, and decide against doing it the first time you see it.
When you live in China as a foreigner, you're supposed to register at the police station within 24 hours of your arrival. While it's not particularly time-consuming (15 minutes max), it meant breaking up a day to walk to the station, paperwork, etc.
I did research on what would happen to me if I didn't register, and it turns out there's lots of local jurisdiction / judgment on it. The area I was living, a moderately foreigner-populated upscale part of the Chaoyang Business District, turned out to almost always issue a warning instead of fining you. Your registration info wasn't checked when you left the country, and it wasn't necessary for 99% of daily activities.
I was in and out of China multiple times on a business visa with "M" multiple entries. For a while, I said, "I'm too busy, I don't have time to register, I accept the consequences if the worst should happen." Even the worst wasn't so bad -- it was just a fine that capped at $500, and I thought it pretty unlikely I'd get one.
This is frequently the wrong call to make, not doing things you don't want to do. But if you really are going to punt on something, you're best off doing it quite early, making peace with the decision, accepting potential consequences, and then you can stop thinking about it.
Strategy #2: Do it quickly to get it off your head.
Later, they changed the visa rules and I was no longer easily eligible for the M multiple entries. I had to extend my visa regularly in Beijing.
At that point, I needed to register at the police station. So, my new way became just registering as soon as possible. One time, instead of going straight home from the airport, I stopped at the police station on the way back. Then I didn't have to think about it.
It's the strategy I take with taxes -- get them done as quickly as possible. Same with paying bills -- I try to pay as soon as they show up, so I don't have to remember it any more.
I wasn't always like this. I used to delay and put off stuff I didn't want to, and then wind up scrambling around at the last minute. Sometimes I'd be forced to pay expedited fees for a visa I procrastinated in getting, or other paperwork. Sometimes I'd need to FedEx someone a document instead of using the cheaper regular postal mail. Sometimes I'd have to get a more expensive flight, or I wouldn't be able to get the hotel or apartment I wanted to rent because I waited too close to the date of arrival and no space was left.
Why do people do that? Well, obviously we have a natural aversion to doing things we don't want to do.
But there's a gigantic downside to waiting too long, and it's not the missed opportunities or extra fees --
It's that the stuff lives on as a nightmare in your subconcious.
When you have something hanging over your head you don't want to do -- or worst, when your lifestyle involves delaying painful or annoying activities as long as possible -- you wind up living in a whirl of nagging commitments that are stalking you, ready to turn from little annoyances into bigger problems.
It's not a good way to live.
The rule is, "Get it off your head!" You want to eliminate annoyances as quickly as possible, if you're going to do them. If you let them live on in your psyche for a while before doing them, they drain you.
Are there other ways? Could you delegate away, throw money at the problem, or get creative?
Sometimes, yes -- but that's handling it and getting it off your head, as described above.
And sometimes... you actually just can't. There's been plenty of times when I spent two or three times as long trying to get creative to avoid doing some pain in the neck thing, instead of just doing it.
It's really not recommended.
Make your mantra this -- Get it off your head.
You don't want nagging annoyances living in your head. Decide right away not to do it and accept the potential consequences, or do it ASAP. It's the only way to live if you want to be productive, engaged, and not have neurotic stress creeping up on you all the time.
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