Coaches’ Corner: Task Management

Coaches’ Corner: Task Management

We often look at our to-do list with a feeling of dread. How does one possibly get many tasks done in time? There are many tools and procedures available to help with time management and meeting goals within Behavior Analysis.  

Let us look at a few helpful tips: One-way students achieve Task-management is by breaking down a large task into smaller steps. When looking at an entire product, one becomes overwhelmed. However, by completing one step at a time, goals seem more achievable. A few of the many components that contribute to efficient task management and completion include a) Goal setting and b) Reinforcement. Research indicates goal setting to be effective if the goal created was (i) optimally difficult but achievable, (ii) set publicly, and (iii) was a group goal (Epton et al., 2017). Let us explore an example- Due in four days, you have a twelve-page article to read and disseminate in a permanent product; let us call this your long-term goal. Breaking the goal into smaller, more achievable short-term goals such as tackling three pages a day makes the experience less daunting. Take notes within your product as you review the content per day to divide your work expectations realistically.  

In addition to goal setting, identify a potent reward/reinforcer you can earn for meeting your short-term goals per day. This increases the likelihood of behavior completion. Ensure the reward you select is genuinely motivating to yourself (e.g., a special snack, a walk outside, or a scroll through social media). To increase reinforcer potency, reserve its access only when you meet your short-term goal (i.e., reviewing three pages). Finally, involving another person to act as an accountability partner can help you ensure a) you meet your daily goals and b) that you deliver your reinforcers at the right time.  

After four days of meeting your short-term goal, you will notice having met the long-term goal you set for yourself. 

Written By: Laura Shepherd, RBT- Apprentice  


Epton, T., Currie, S., Armitage, C, J. (2017). Unique Effects of Setting Goals on Behavior Change: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical psychology, 85 (12), pp 1182-1198. 

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2019). Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd Edition). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.