Reframe Small Task Completion as Self-Care Coaching

Taking Action Drives Feeling Better

As we move into the homestretch of the semester, many students find themselves torn between getting big end-of-term papers and projects going and catching up with the pile of smaller tasks that can help them add points to the course grade. There is only so much time left, and it is growing short. How can they parcel it out so that they put it toward what they value most?


When students train their focus on smaller tasks in an attempt to avoid tackling more fearsome responsibilities, they may be surprised that they still can't generate enough motivation to get them done. Often this is because the smaller tasks don't seem to hold much meaning. In this scenario students might find themselves equally unmotivated to knock off smaller tasks or to start larger ones (albeit for different reasons).


Procrastination, as research by Sirois and Pychyl among others has shown, is largely an issue of emotion regulation -- to feel better, we put off tasks that seem aversive. However, if coaches can guide students to focus on self-care for their "future selves," the accomplishment of a task may be seen as more positive -- and more motivating. 


When a student is struggling with end-of-semester task overload, coaches can use powerful questions like these to drive action that brings relief:

  • What would you be most happy to have done by the weekend? 

  • How can you break down this project/paper into smaller pieces? Which piece can you start today?

  • Compare taking a one-hour entertainment break to spending one hour doing an assignment you need to finish. Which would make you feel better afterwards -- honest answer?

Grow your ability to act as an agent of self-care for your students. Join LifeBound for a three-day coaching training December 14, 15, and 18, or if you have completed the three-day training and are ready to take your coaching to the next level, join the Spring Certification Cohort beginning on January 30. 

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