I was listening to Scott Young, who is a productivity and study skills expert, and he made an important distinction on a recent podcast episode.
Many times we confuse tasks with projects.
This is SO TRUE for both parents and students! Many times we create to-do lists, and put down as tasks activities that are actually more complicated projects that have multiple smaller tasks involved. Even things that might seem mundane, like making a purchase, might actually involve a more complicated process of researching that item, understanding different features, comparing brands, reading reviews, deciding where to buy, determining your budget, making the purchase, and then learning how to use/install/implement the item.
It's a whole project! Yet by putting it down as a "task," we oversimplify and underestimate the emount of time, energy and brainpower that will be involved in that one activity.
This is especially true when it comes to school, academics and study skills! Many times students get tripped up because they treat projects as tasks. They put down in their planner/notes to "write a paper." Or if they don't have a planner, they think in their head, "I have to write a paper." This gives the illusion that writing a paper is a task, when really it's a series of tasks. You need to read the book, research the material, brainstorm, draft, write the first/second/third body paragraphs, write the conclusion, write the intro, proofread, edit, format, profread again, get input, finalize, print/send, etc. Each step is in itself a task, and yet that gets overlooked SO often, leading to late nights, frustration, stress, and subprime work.
The same holds true in many other areas academically. Studying for exams, working on a presentation, putting together a science fair project, even reading a book can (and often should) be broken down into a series of tasks.
Helping our teens recognize this, and equipping them with the skills to break assignments down into smaller chunks is a key way to help equip them for being productive in life! It's not just a series of pointless homework assignments, it's opportunities to learn project and time management skills that will benefit them regardless of what career or profession they decide to pursue!
Looking for resources to help your teen succeed academically? Check out our 12-module Study Skills Course here! Or you can schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation call to discuss your particular situation and the resources to help your teen succeed at college and career prep!
What are some "tasks" that you or your teen have been tripping up on that should be turned into a project with a series of smaller tasks?
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