Recently, on Leslie Zampetti’s blog, Rear in Gear, she posed a question about how to get kids to talk about what they’re reading. As I began typing my comment in response, it got me thinking about what’s at the core of the issue. My thoughts came full circle, ultimately encompassing what’s at the core of many “road blocks,” even for we adults. It’s all about focus and how we go about achieving that. Let’s start with the issue that sparked my thought process:
“How was your day, honey?”
“What did you do in school today?”
“What do you like about the book you’re reading?”
“I don’t know.”
When you ask a child questions like these, the reason you typically get these answers is because the questions are simply too broad. There are too many aspects so it creates a “traffic jam” of possible responses. This makes it too difficult or even impossible to answer so they draw a blank. Children don’t know what to focus on in order to respond. Of course, there’s also the times they just don’t want to be bothered answering 🙂
This same jammed state can pertain to adults as well. This can sometimes happen in conversation, though most of us can pick a subject for a response. (And let’s not deny that we, too, sometimes don’t want to be bothered answering.) Often this gridlock occurs when we are faced with large tasks. There can be an overwhelming amount of pieces and moving parts, thus creating that same “traffic jam” effect. It is common knowledge that one of the best, if not THE best way to tackle this type problem is none other than—yes, you guessed it: organizational lists and charts! I am the queen of lists and charts. Why? Because they work! Of course, you actually have to USE them in order for them to work 🙂
When faced with any large project or issue (it doesn’t matter what that project or issue is), it needs to be broken down into manageable parts. We can compare a project to a recipe, let’s say for, oh, I don’t know—cake 🙂 The “large project” is the completed cake, including frosting, of course. How do you end up with a tasty cake on your plate? First you figure out which ingredients you need, itemizing them as a list. Then figure out the amounts of each to further define your list, it becoming more precise and concrete. (You will not have a tasty cake without narrowing these things down first.) You then need to figure out the method of creating the cake and in which order to perform the steps. You can’t put the pan in the oven before you mix the batter, so this is pretty critical 😉 Once you have these in place, it enables you to focus and gives you the all-essential starting point—that quintessential “first step.” You then tackle the project, step-by-step, through to completion, and wa-la! Next thing you know, you’re digging your fork into a fudge-filled delight! Now, if for some reason it’s not as tasty as you thought it would be, you need to rework it—also step-by-step. That’s the nature of creating any new project or tackling an issue.
Want to get an answer from a child about what they did in school? Break it down. Be specific. Create focus. “So, what did you learn in English class today?” You may get a “nothing” answer, but it’s much more likely you’ll get, “We learned about nouns today.” Either way, you have a better springboard for an actual conversation 🙂
Want to bake a cake, write a novel, organize an event or build a house? You name it, the principle is the same. Sometimes you don’t need a road map, but more often than not, if you’re shooting to reach your destination successfully, getting organized and making a step-by-step “trip” itinerary is the ticket to get you there the most efficient way possible 😀
I’d love to hear about how you go about tackling big projects or issues. Do you procrastinate indefinitely, dive right in without planning, or are you a list maker? Also, do you find success using your method?
And don’t forget—if you leave a pertinent comment before midnight, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, you are eligible to win 3 Bookmarks, including those of you outside the U.S.! You can enter here 😀