One step at a time

Filing tax returns in Germany can be a massive pain.

Just to give you a taste, here are some of the details that you need to supply in the travelling-to-work category:

  • Distance between home and workplace
  • Amount paid for public transport
  • Alternative routes to work
  • Distance of the alternative route and number of days you took it
  • Number of days in the year you departed or arrived on business trips
  • Number of days in the year you worked from home

Now multiply that level of detail across about 20 such categories. And if you shifted houses that year, hearty congratulations! You have earned another 10 categories to fill out.

The German tax returns system being a giant hairball leads people to forego thousands of Euros of their hard earned money. Last week though, I had a revelation. I downloaded a mobile app called Taxfix, which helped me file returns for an entire year in about half an hour.

Taxfix breaks down the complex procedure into simple steps that are presented one at a time. Its method is similar to that of a satellite navigation system.  SatNavs guide their users through long and intricate routes by supplying decisions one at a time.

The giant hairball has met its match.


The insight here can be applied more broadly. Ambitious goals are intimidating because they are actually a bundle of intricate steps. Each time we think about them, their complexity causes discomfort. This leads to procrastination and eventual abandonment. By breaking any goal into a series of small steps, we only need to worry about the very next step.

After all, the solution to even the most intricate maze in the world, is merely series of simple decisions, made one at a time.

Inspiration: Taxfix 

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