Keep those lines of communication with your kids open- even when it's tough!
Lisa here. I hope you enjoyed last week’s blog about task initiation. Today we’re doing a deeper dive on something that often makes task initiation difficult- overwhelm. Do some tasks feel too daunting or overwhelming to even start? This is a common reason for procrastination and for deciding not to do a task at all.
So, what do you do when faced with a daunting task? It may sound obvious, but breaking a big, overwhelming task into smaller, more doable chunks is key. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s often unclear how to go about this. If you break the task into too many steps, you may feel discouraged and like you’re not making progress. Too few steps and you still feel overwhelmed.
Here are some tips you can use to break down tasks into small, specific goals no matter what kind of task you’re facing, whether it’s a project at work or a household chore:
Using the strategies I’ve just described has another benefit. Focusing on completing small steps shifts your view from completion of the ultimate goal as the only metric of success. Instead, you can appreciate your progress and experience small victories along the way. When you view your progress as success, you build momentum to keep going until the task is complete. Again, this works for big projects and mundane, everyday chores.
This strategy is also a great one to model for and teach your kids. Not only will they learn to appreciate the journey as well as the destination, they will also learn some important skills. They’ll learn how to plan and organize their approach to a task, how to initiate and complete a task, and how to problem-solve and make adjustments when things do not go according to their original plan. That’s some excellent executive functioning skills training!
Sarah here. We hope that you enjoyed last week’s blog about emphasizing progress over perfection. This week, we’re talking about something many people can relate to- the struggle to just get started on a task.
Often, when we need to do something, the biggest hurdle we face is getting started. Problems with task initiation can appear when we care about a goal, when we’re facing a large project, and/or when it’s something very important to us. But this isn’t always the case. In fact, we often struggle to get started because we don’t care about a task, don’t see the value in a project, and/or are dreading it.
Difficulties with task initiation aren’t always about intentional procrastination. Sure, sometimes we deliberately put off doing something. But other times, we just may not know how to get started. Some tasks can be overwhelming, which makes it hard to know where to begin. We may also doubt whether we’ll be able to finish or accomplish something, which may prevent us from starting.
So, what can you do when you’re having a hard time with task initiation? If you’re facing a large project and you’re not sure where to start, it may be useful to map things out. Break down the project into doable steps that can be accomplished relatively quickly. This reduces overwhelm and gives you a sense of momentum. Just remember that in order to make sub-tasks easily attainable, you will likely have a relatively long To Do list for your project.
If you’re focused on how difficult it will be to get from start to finish, remind yourself that progress is progress- no matter how small. Focus on the step you’re on rather than on the eventual goal. If you keep taking small steps, eventually you will get where you’re going. Tying into last week’s blog, reinforce yourself for your effort, rather than the outcome. That will give you a boost to keep going.
When you appreciate how difficult getting started can be, it may be a bit easier to feel self-compassion when you notice yourself stalling. And remember that passing that initial roadblock—just getting started—can be a huge relief. So be sure to celebrate when you set things in motion, even if you still have more to do.
Feel free to peruse our blog and see what Sarah and Lisa had to say about topics related to your needs as a busy parent. We will talk about everything from parenting values, to life hacks, to realistic self-care.