Procrastination is delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute due to the discomfort of getting started. In many instances, procrastination can be the root problem that all others stem from in our lives. That temporary relief we feel when putting off an important task or responsibility usually pales in comparison to the multitude of consequences that come afterward.
Our Executive Function coaches don't look at procrastination as a sign of laziness, but rather as a habit stemming from avoidance. Coaches work to get to the root of this avoidance by connecting with our clients through reflective conversations. They then custom-pick coach-tested tools and strategies that help with task initiation for clients to experiment with between sessions.
Break big projects down into manageable chunks. An hour of work often seems much more doable than 7 hours. But chunking is an art form, so make sure these “chunks” are realistic and specific. Breaking a task into 20 parts may be overwhelming – who can keep track of that much? However, only 2 or 3 parts may not provide enough structure to keep you on track. Depending on the size of the task, about 5-10 chunks with specific outcomes are ideal. Set interim deadlines for smaller portions of the task. And for the initial planning session? Make it a 5-minute goal to get the ball rolling!
The word “deadline” seems to instill a feeling of dread. It’s a race against the clock, a stressful countdown, a horrible weight hanging over one’s head. Try to look at deadlines in a different light. A deadline can be viewed as a helpful tool – they force you to make decisions and push forward, rather than dwelling on a specific aspect of a project for days. Reframe your thoughts – don’t think of that upcoming deadline as a burden, but rather look forward to it as a time when your work will be finished! In fact, calling it a finish line might help you adopt a different mindset that emphasizes accomplishment instead of looming misery.
Big tasks can be overwhelming for students and adults. Oftentimes, we make to-do lists that are longer than what can possibly be accomplished given the time in each day. To use 5-minute goals, select a task that should take no more than 5 minutes, set the timer, and get started!
You can even try this strategy for tasks that might take more than 5 minutes as a simple way to get started. If you need to put away dishes, set that timer for 5 minutes and just do whatever you can accomplish within that time frame. Now, you're already into the task and have accomplished more than you did 5 minutes ago,
Don’t discount the power of a reward. Sometimes something as simple as a 10-minute break is sufficient to motivate you. Find out what motivates you and set realistic rewards you can work towards.
Lack of focus can be a constant problem for those struggling with Executive Dysfunction. Students may struggle to complete long essays, finish tests on time, or do homework in a reasonable amount of time.
How Coaching Helps
Our coaches look at a lack of focus as a sign that a client's work habits may need renewed structure. Coaches teach clients strategies that help them minimize or eliminate distractions and reduce multitasking while they work. They also encourage frequent breaks, chunking assignments or tasks into manageable pieces, and finding the right combination of environmental factors to encourage optimal focus. Clients often commit to small experiments in one or more of these areas during the week that can then provide the baseline for future improvements and strategy refinement in future sessions. Over our nearly 17 years of coaching clients, we've found that many of our clients benefit from strategies to manage life's distractions - whether or not they have ADHD.
Prioritization is the process of deciding the relative importance or urgency needed when faced with multiple tasks.
How coaching helps
Our coaches teach prioritization by helping clients set realistic goals and prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency. One technique we use is teaching clients to break large projects into smaller tasks and set deadlines. To teach this skill, our coaches guide clients in using tools such as Gantt charts or Eisenhower matrices to visualize and manage tasks
It's normal for students to occasionally find themselves distracted. However, regularly struggling to stay focused has a number of serious consequences that can hold them back, including poor grades, relationship challenges, challenges with self-care, and heightened stress and anxiety overall.
How Coaching Helps
Our coaches teach clients strategies to minimize distractions, such as creating a designated workspace and using noise-canceling headphones. We do this by introducing techniques to improve concentration, such as the Pomodoro Technique or mindfulness practices. Coaches also encourage clients to take regular breaks and engage in physical activity to maintain focus.
Productivity is how efficiently students can complete tasks, consistently.
How Coaching Helps
Our coaches help promote productivity by helping clients develop strategies to maintain motivation, such as visualizing the end result or creating a reward system, encouraging clients to track progress and celebrate small wins along the way, and teaching clients to develop resilience and learn from setbacks or challenges.
Organization encompasses the ability to keep track of personal belongings, maintain an orderly space, and manage deadlines. A lack of organization can have serious consequences like misplaced assignments, heightened stress, relationship problems, financial impacts, and more.
How Coaching Helps
Our coaches are equipped with a deep knowledge of well-researched organizational tools & strategies at their fingertips. Coaches work to better understand their clients' organizational habits and get to the root of their barriers to implementing systems to get organized. They then utilize this understanding to create a game plan that may involve small organizational commitments week to week.
In 1:1 sessions online, coaches help clients identify, employ, and evaluate tools and strategies that address their specific needs. Our coaches customize their approach to each individual depending upon their attitude toward changing work habits. We use a research-based model to attain clients’ buy-in to improve their self-management skills and lead to lasting change.
Coaches at Beyond BookSmart use 4 steps - Reach, Teach, Reflect, and Release - when working with clients.
Coaches introduce time management strategies that encourage clients to estimate how long certain tasks will take and then plan out when they'll get them done.
Our coaches are equipped with a deep knowledge of well-researched organizational tools & strategies at their fingertips. Coaches work to better understand their clients' organizational habits and get to the root of their barriers to implementing systems to get organized.
Our coaches look at a lack of focus as a sign that a client's work habits may need renewed structure. Coaches teach clients strategies that help them minimize or eliminate distractions and reduce multitasking while they work.
Our coaches teach prioritization by helping clients set realistic goals and prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.
Our coaches approach problems around impulsivity as a sign that a client may benefit from working on their self-regulation skills. Depending on the level of stress, coaches can provide a customized intervention that may focus on teaching clients to recognize stress-inducing scenarios.
At times, even successful, high-achieving individuals may struggle to begin a difficult or less-than-exciting task. However, when this becomes a regular habit - one that leads to last-minute scrambles, time-wasting, stress, and missed opportunities - it can have serious consequences on our academic and personal lives.
WorkSmart Coaching is a division of Beyond BookSmart that specializes in adult coaching.
WorkSmart coaches have master’s degrees or higher and have a track record of success working with adults like you. Many also have experience working as educators or therapists. In other words, they've dedicated their professional lives to helping people learn, grow, and be their very best.