This article is the second in a five-part series on making school (and life) easier. Last week, we focused on the simple act of writing things down. Today, we’ll make what you wrote doable.

Break big projects down into little steps

Remember the term paper your high school English teacher assigned? If yours was like mine, she announced the due date months in advance. But then she did something else.

She said to the class, “You will turn in to me your topic this Friday. Next Friday, you’ll turn in a draft of your outline. I’ll make comments and you’ll turn in a revised copy the next Friday. The following Friday, you’ll turn in 10 note cards…”

Left to our own devices, we would have written “write term paper” on a scrap of paper and stuck it in a textbook. We wouldn’t have thought about that term paper again until the night before the paper was due. After all, the world could have come to an end before the due date, right? And we would have done all that work for nothing!

That high school English teacher knew the importance of taking a big project and breaking it into small pieces. She also hoped it was a lesson that would carry over into other subjects and into adult life.

What are the projects for today’s students?

Imagine May is here. The end of the 2021-2022 school year is upon us. How will that student be different? Will she have made the basketball team and won a starting position? Will he have learned to play the trombone? Will she have gone from being a struggling reader to one of the best in the class?

None of that happens overnight. Success comes through small steps. The question is this: Has anybody identified those small steps and made them part of the day? Would shooting 50 free throws today or practicing the next page of the trombone method book help? Would reading 20 minutes today help? Those things are doable, and they are doable now.

There’s only one problem. Few of us take the time to identify the little things which lead to the accomplishment of big things.

Let’s go back to the student and our vision of what life will look like in May 2022. What can that young person do today that brings success a step closer? Now, show me where that’s written down on a calendar or in a student planner or whatever tool keeps the day on track.

What does the “grown-up” version of that look like?

We can probably all identify a project at home that’s been hanging around far too long. Maybe it’s the quest for an organized garage. Maybe it’s going back to school for an advanced degree. As long as the project remains big, the chances of achieving it are small.

Pick one of those projects. Spend a few minutes hammering out the small steps. Organizing the garage might start with walking through the garage with a legal pad and making a list of the large items you would like to give away. Before you know it, you’ve put your list of giveaways on Facebook and all sorts of people are offering to take your stuff.

What’s a project you have been putting off? What one small step would get it moving? Write that one down. Now get busy.

Make what’s on the list so easy you can’t wait to tackle it and check it off.

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”

Alvin Toffler

Who is a young person in your life that needs to learn how to break down projects? Pick a project that is important to that young person. Help him or her identify the steps. With practice, that young person will get better at this skill.

If you liked this post, check out the next one in the series.

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Frank Buck