Task initiation is the ability to start a task. It includes overcoming procrastination and getting started on tasks, especially when you don’t want to do them because it might be boring or difficult.
Our Executive Function coaches don't look at challenges with task initiation as a sign of laziness, but rather as a coping mechanism to avoid uncomfortable tasks and transitions. 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. Here are some of their favorites to support task initiation.
Cognitive Pairing is a clever approach to enhance focus and make work or study time more enjoyable. The aim of this technique is to pair a task that requires focus and attention with something pleasant or rewarding. By creating a positive association, this method can boost motivation and increase task engagement. So what does this look like in practice?
First and foremost, start by identifying a task that demands a high degree of focus. Then, choose something enjoyable to pair with this task. This could be as simple as savoring a favorite cup of coffee while working, listening to a soothing instrumental playlist, or promising yourself a small reward after completing the task. The enjoyable element should be non-distracting and ideally help create a positive or relaxed atmosphere conducive to focus. By linking the task with a pleasant activity or reward, the brain begins to associate the focus-required task with positive feelings, making it easier to get started and remain engaged.
Let's face it - transitioning from something fun, engaging, or relaxing to a dreaded task like homework or chores is an experience nobody enjoys. However, "Softening the blow" is one way to ease into these types of tasks or responsibilities. Here's how it works.
Choose something to do that's a little bit less enjoyable than what you were doing before, but slightly more engaging than the task you don't want to start. This is going to be to your "soften the blow" activity and it should serve as a transitional buffer that doesn't take more than 5 or 10 minutes and can make starting your task more manageable. This transition activity could be something as simple as enjoying a healthy snack, making a brief phone call to a friend, taking a short walk outside, or doing a quick mindfulness exercise. By providing this buffer, the brain gets an opportunity to adjust and prepare for the upcoming task, reducing the likelihood of procrastination or refusal.
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,
Time management challenges present as a difficulty or inability to sense the passage of time. Disruptions with time awareness, whether minor or substantial, can affect numerous areas of an individual's life.
How Coaching Helps
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. By utilizing these strategies to map out school deadlines, test days, and scheduled events, clients begin to learn how to think about time in a more realistic way.
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.
Our 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.
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.
Stress is a natural response that allows us to address challenges in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree but it's important to find methods to manage it to avoid things like depression or anxiety.
Our coaches teach prioritization by helping clients set realistic goals and prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.
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 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.
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.