“Start with one corner,” my mother used to say of a big household cleaning project. That is, don’t look at the whole giant project. Just do one finite piece at a time. Turns out, that works for all kinds of big projects and for all ages.
Does your child have a long math worksheet? A room to tidy? Term paper? Divide it into smaller projects with clear stopping points and meaningful rewards after each — the younger the child, the smaller the parts. You’ll be teaching time management, self discipline and the power of earned rewards.
Special education aides know the value of dividing worksheets into rows, or columns, or blocks, or setting a timer for the required amount of attention. A small reward of time spent doing a more pleasurable activity follows the completion of each chunk of work.
For anyone with a short attention span, a tendency to procrastinate for fear of failure, or simple dislike for the job at hand, focusing on smaller pieces transforms what can feel like a life sentence into manageable steps. Then success builds on success. I’ve come to approach just about every project this way from complex magazine assignments to cleaning the garage.
What is that daunting project for you today? The household budget? FAFSA paperwork for your student’s college applications? Making Halloween costumes? Sorting and donating unused items in storage? Cleaning the car?
Above all, begin. Start with one page, one corner, or just clear off a workspace and gather the needed materials. Set a timer if that helps, then give the task your full attention, accomplish your first goal, establish a time to do more, then do something fun. You will have earned it!