Lauren Taylor (SLP at Portland Elem and Western Middle) shares:
The concept behind this chapter is simple-the more aversive a task is, the more likely you are to put it off. Of course. But the author dives in (slightly) deeper, by acknowledging the more complicated aspects of the concept and describing them as a ‘battle’ in our brains between the limbic system (emotional, instinctual, ‘pleasure center’) and the prefrontal cortex (responsible for logic and reason). Every time we put off an undesirable task (progress monitoring logs, for example) for something more desirable (insert nearly ANYTHING here), our limbic system has taken the trophy. To combat this concept, the author offers up the 6 driving ‘triggers’ behind a task being aversive (it is boring, frustrating, difficult, unstructured or ambiguous, lacking in personal meaning, lacking in intrinsic rewards) and provides alternatives to ‘flip those triggers’, ‘regain control of your brain’ and make those not so desirable tasks become somewhat more appealing. The challenge is to do just that-and while I haven’t put it all in to practice yet, here’s what it could look like, using progress monitoring logs and writing IEPs with the new format as the tasks being avoided.
It’s boring. Make it more interesting by pairing it with something you find stimulating-like completing your logs at the park or the coffee shop while people watching with a latte.
It’s frustrating. Alternate it with something you enjoy and use a timer to switch between tasks. Do your logs for 20 minutes, then read/work a crossword puzzle/go for a walk or whatever it is you enjoy for an equal amount of time.
It’s difficult (I’m going to use writing IEP’s with the new format here because most things that require me to retrain my brain I consider somewhat difficult-at least at first). Research the process and gather all the information needed ahead of time to help you complete the task with more ease. Look back at your notes/cheat sheets/provided references and have them readily available in case you hit any road blocks as you begin writing your IEP.
It’s unstructured or ambiguous. Use all the provided resources to make a step by step, structured guide to writing IEPs in a format that you find more useful or helpful.
It’s lacking in personal meaning. While logs and writing IEPs don’t necessarily have personal meaning for us-getting them done as opposed to putting them off does allow us extra space in our brains and extra time to do things that are more meaningful to us.
It’s lacking in intrinsic reward. Think about how happy you will be when all of your colleagues are talking about the email they got from Melissa about being behind on their logs or not having baseline data on their IEP or including data points on objectives rather than annual goals-an email that will miss your inbox because you refused to procrastinate on doing things the way they’re supposed to be done. Now THAT’S an intrinsic reward.
Aside from ‘flipping the triggers’, the author offers three more ways to ‘regain control over your brain’. He recommends (1) creating a procrastination list of other meaningful tasks that you can work on while procrastinating those less desirable items, (2) listing the costs of putting something off, and (3) just get started-because we all know that sometimes that’s the hardest part.