Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Task initiation

Task initiation:
What are the challenges with task initiation and how to get started?


Case study:

Shallini is a designer at a software company. In the last few weeks, she often experienced anxiety and stress, which affects her ability to manage time and make plan for the future events. However, yesterday, Shallini was assigned on a new designing project by her team leader. Her team leader told her this is an important project for the company. Shallini started to stress out about the project as she was afraid that she would disappoint her team leader. Therefore, she finds it hard to focus on tasks and it was difficult for her to get started on project. Shallini delayed the project initiation and chose to do pleasant activities instead. Shallini decided to hang out with her friend and ignored her responsibility.

Throughout human life, time is devoted to getting things done. Humans are motivated to complete a task before the deadline. For example: cleaning the room, packing for the holiday, planning for marriage and study for exam. Task initiation is perceived as people's daily routine to complete in order to meet their establish deadlines or achieve their needs. Some individuals are productive in engaging with their tasks. They hold a high responsibility about their goals and needs which drive them to consummate their tasks. In contrast, delaying tasks or procrastination is a common occurrence in people's life, which can be displayed as the challenge for people to get started on tasks. For instance, there are a great number of aspects that can be demonstrated as the barriers for people to complete their task. For example: poor time management, mental health and distraction. Therefore, this chapter demonstrates the challenges and how to get started on task initiation. Procrastination and distraction are the two factors that challenge people in task initiation. In contrast, planning and time management are two effective skills that assist people in getting started.

Task initiationEdit

Task initiation refers to the ability to immediately start a designated task. These tasks could be kind of activities from to getting ready, to shower, to cleaning the house and to cook dinner[Rewrite to improve clarity]. It also includes the ability to overcoming procrastination and getting started on tasks. Task initiation is a critical life skill that individuals will utilise throughout their life span, therefore, many people perceived a great sense of time management, self-regulation and self-determination, which effectively drives them to be productive in task initiation. Furthermore, task initiation is a beneficial skill for individuals to attain because such a skill help individuals in perceive better time management, planning strategies, excellence task initiate habit, and stress reduction.

Psychological motivation theoriesEdit

Figure 1. Maslow Hierarchy of Need.

[Provide more detail]

Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedEdit

Maslow's hierarchy of need aim to understand individual growth. The hierarchy start[grammar?] from the bottom and finish at the start which consists of three dominance needs.

  • Basic needs
  • Psychological need
  • Fulfilment need.

The bottom of the pyramid is physiological needs and safety needs, the middle is love/belonging and esteem need, finally, the self-actualisation (Figure 1). Maslow demonstrated that people are motivated to start a task in order to achieve their need or goals. Hence, basic need is the first level that potentially motivate people to initiate with task and as well as drive them to reach another level (Mcleod, 2018). For example, as a chef, John wakes up every morning to start the early shift. He works so hard because he need money to pay for rent, food and bills as these are all the basic needs for him. Therefore, this theory provide a clear distinction of the aspect that undeniably drive human in task initiation.

Alderfer's ERG modelEdit

Figure 2. Alderfer's EGR Model

Unlike Maslow Hierarchy of need, Alderfer developed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs into a three factor model of motivation know as the ERG model[grammar?]. In this model the letter E, R, & G each stand for a different human need: existence, relatedness and growth (see Figure 2). ERG is a motivational construct concerned with understanding the factors that contribute to individual human behaviour. It is motivational approaches that consider the intrinsic factors that cause a person to take specific actions (Ivancevich et al, 2008). This model has a great implication on task initiation. It provide a clear distinction on what factors and how the model motivate human in staring task.

Neurological factorsEdit

[Provide more detail]

Frontal lobeEdit

Figure 3. Frontal lobe - lateral view

The frontal lobes are the largest lobes in the human brain. The brain area are important for voluntary movement, expressive language and for managing higher level executive functions. The frontal lobes serve in decision-making and executive control which drive human selection and coordination of goal-directed behaviours (Collin & Koechilin, 2012)[grammar?].

Executive functionEdit

Executive functions (EFs) refer to a family of top-down mental processes needed when human have to concentrate and pay attention to the stimulus (Diamond, 2012). EPs engage the frontal lobe function that manages task sets that is, active representations of behavioural strategies stored in long-term memory for driving action (Collin & Koechilin, 2012)[grammar?]. In addition, EFs consists of five types (see Table 1).

Table 1. Five Type of Executive Function (Low, 2020)
Type Function Example
Attention control Individual's ability to focus attention and concentrate on something specific in the environment. Sam focuses on taking customer orders.
Cognitive flexibility/ mental flexibility The ability to switch from one mental task to another or to think about multiple things at the same time While taking customer order, Sam also welcome walk in customers.
Cognitive inhibition The ability to tune out irrelevant information. Sam ignores the sound of baby crying while taking customer order.
Inhibitory Control The ability to inhibit impulses or desires in order to engage in more appropriate or beneficial behaviours Sound of baby crying does not distract Sam in taking order customer order.  
Working memory The temporary storage system” in the brain that holds several facts or thoughts in mind while solving a problem or performing a task. Sam continues on taking customer order.

Using EFs is effortful as it drives people to continues doing they have been doing, which makes it easier them to give into temptation than to resist it. Hence, Diamond (2012) demonstrated that the important role of EFs is the inhibitory control that generates the self-control. The aspect assists individual to attain a great self-discipline to initiate with tasks despite distractions and temptation to give up. This involves implicit encouragement that drive people to get started on the activities without the presence of distraction. For this reason, EFs have such a prominent influence on motivate people to initiate with the tasks. People with strong EFs are skilled in time management, plan making, stay organise and task focused (Low, 2020). They appear to attain an excellent task initiation habit in getting material organised and critically distinguish in planning for their future event as well as estimating when and how to initiate with the tasks. In contrast, people with deficit EFs are appeared to have difficulty in completing task, prioritise tasks and poor time management. Therefore, in Wood et al.[grammar?] (2002) study in which EF measure were used with an adult ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) sample. [grammar?] They found that adults with ADHD demonstrates subtle impairments on select measures of attention and executive functions and complex information processing. To illustrate, EFs are such crucial skills for people mental and physical health in establish success in school and in life, and cognitive, social, and psychological development.

What are the challenges with task initiation?Edit

[Provide more detail]


Self-efficacy refers to a person's belief in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal. It encompasses a person's confidence in themselves to control their behaviour, exert an influence over their environment, and stay motivated in initiate with tasks and complete goals (Cherry, 2022). Self-efficacy is an important construct that plays a substantial role in motivation, cognition, and achievement behaviours (Bandura, 1999). However, low self-efficacy has been found as a challenge for people to start the task, which people with efficacy are likely to perceived task as difficult accountability. Perceived task difficulty was assumed to be an antecedent of efficacy beliefs and individuals would use it to form their efficacy beliefs (Li et al. 2007). Hence, self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1999) stated that what we believe about ourselves strongly influences our task choice, level of effort, persistence, and resilience, and how we subsequently perform.

For example: Ben is a bartender, he has 3 years experience in the industry. He think that he is not quality enough to make complicated cocktails. Ben does not believe in his ability, Sam perceived making making cocktail as difficulty a task. For this reason, people with low self-efficiency are more likely to be afraid of doing their tasks, avoiding, postponing, and give them up soon (Hayat et al. 2020).


Figure 4. Procrastination[Provide more detail]

Procrastination is the voluntary irrational delay of an intended course of action (Gao et al., 2021). Procrastination is not simply delaying the completion of a task but also contains an element of irrationality, in which people put off tasks in spite of the belief that doing so is not in their best interest.

Psychological factorsEdit

Procrastination has been positively linked with the depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and poor task initiation habits, which 20-25% of adult are chronic procrastinations (Ferrari & Diaz-Morales, 2014). In addition, a study on academic of the procrastination in undergraduate students Klassen et al. (2007), they found that high levels of procrastination are related to students’ poor low self-esteem and poor self-regulation skills. For this reason, individuals with anxiety, depression are likely to experiences difficulties in task initiation. They feel anxious about the task result which they generate self-doubt about their ability to complete tasks as well as makes them perceived task as difficult errands.

For example: Jenna find it hard to start on her statistic assignment which is due in next 3 weeks. Jenna is not good at math, she was stressed and worried about the assignment because she doubted that she would perform it well. In addition, studies estimate that almost all university students engage in procrastination once in a while, while 75% consider themselves habitual procrastinators (Steel, 2007). Therefore, people with poor mental health are likely to delay the task till the deadline.For example, Sam has been experience stressed. He has an assignment due in a months time. However, he delays working on an assignment until right before its deadline because he was anxious and stressed about the assignment, even though he know that it would be better for him to start earlier, Sam is procrastinating.


Studies regarding procrastination indicate that people with procrastination are easily distracted by more interesting or fun activities (Moonaghi, 2017). Rather than initiates with tasks people with a tendency to procrastinate are most likely to prioritise fun and pleasant activities. Steel (2007) demonstrated that the reason that people are easily distracted and replaced with fun activities is because of working on the task or project is annoying for them.

For example: Jonathan is assigned a project by his team leader. He think that the project is easy and he can just do a day before the deadline. Jonathan was asked by his friends to go out for the drink, which he passionately agreed. Jonathan is distracted and being taken away from his responsibility.

How to get started?Edit

[Provide more detail]


Figure 5. Planning for a project

Planning is a prospective self-regulatory strategy, a mental simulation of linking concrete responses to future situations (Sniehotta et al. 2005). The strategy provides Template:Fe people the detail strategies, detail of action implementation for coping with unforeseen obstacles. Using the strategy, people can form an active mental representation of the task goal and make the situational target cues more easily accessible and critical situations more easily detectable. In addition, plans are further divided into two sub-constructs which are action plan (AP) and coping plan (CP) (Leventhal et al.1965).

Action planningEdit

Action plan (AP) specify where, when and how a goal will be implemented which helps someone to plan the specific action they will take to being the task (Bailey, 2019). APs has been known a reminder for people maintain the act (in terms of time and place) and planning contributes to task initiation, even when self-regulatory skills and memory capacity are low (Reinward et al. 2016)[grammar?]. The skill provides individuals with a sense of direction that motivate them to start the task in a confidence manner.

Reinward et al. (2016) tested the quality of AP and fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption. They found that participants who had a high risk perception generated more APs for FV consumption[explain?], which they might be more interested in relevant information about how to change their health behaviour and might therefore generate APs. For this reason, individuals with efficient action plan are dedicated and ambitious about their tasks. They crucially plan their task in a detailed, categorical and optimism manner, in which allows them to naturally train their brain to be prepared to starts on tasks when they procure a clear vision of their task purpose.

Case study:

Kim is in her last year of college. She is not good at math because she does not like science subjects in general. In her year 11, Kim did not perform well on her math subject. Kim has been informed by her math teacher that if she wanted to get a good ATAR, she need to score higher in the final math exams. Kim think that this is her last year of college and she does not want to score lower ATAR as well. Therefore, Kim thinks [grammar?] that in order for her to score higher in the exam, she ought to critically plan about her study for the math exam.

The table below is an example of Kim's plan use 3 big of questions for her exams preparation.

WHEN I am going to start my math revision for exam tomorrow.
WHERE I am going to study at library with my friends.
HOW I am going to revise my math homework process from week 1 to the present week and practice on advanced questions from the textbook.

Coping planningEdit

Coping planning (CP) is a barrier-focused self-regulation strategy. It represents a mental link between anticipated risk situations and suitable coping responses (Sniehotta et al. 2005). For example: If I wanted to go biking but I am tired, I won't let myself stop, but I would bike a bit slower. Coping planning provides people with a strong sense of concentration in the present of distraction. Therefore, Gollwizter (1999) described CP as "preceding how to best escape these unwanted influences on behaviour". Individuals can act on their intentions even in situations in which barriers and obstacles constrain intended actions or evoke contra-intentional behaviour.

Time managementEdit

Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. The skill has been widely known as one of the aspects that assists people to efficiently getting started on the tasks. People habitually manage their time in a categorical manner for the purpose of planning, tracking, and documenting activities (Tu & Soman, 2014). For this reason, individuals with proficient time management can critically divide and prioritise their task into numerous orders, which assist them to attain greater sense of perception, judgement, motivation and choices.

For example: Lisa has 3 essays in 2 weeks. She carefully ranked her assignment and divided her time in categorical manner, such as Monday to Wednesday she works on assignment A, Thursday to Saturday she works on assignment B and Sunday to Monday she works on assignment C. Therefore, research by Bond and Feather 1988 showed that people are more likely to engage in task when they grasp about their time structure and task's purpose. For this reason, efficient time management is such an important skill for people to engage in task initiation. The skill assist[grammar?] people to generate better optimism about the future, establish more efficient engagement habits, and less depression and hopelessness.


Task initiation is such as important skill for people to embrace to accomplish their need and goal. The skill also assist people to establish a better skill in task initiation habit, time management, and plan making. In addition, task initiation helps people to foster a greater sense of self-esteem, self-determination and self-efficacy which are the essential for them to succeed in their everyday life. However, there are various factors that are perceived as a challenge for people to initiate in task, which decrease their ability to get thing done. For exampleː distraction and procrastination. Even though there are challenges in task initiation, people can still initiate in their task by generating better time management and planning, which effectively helps them in getting started on their desired task. For this reason, the hope for those who have read this chapter is that they have gained insight about how to overcome the challenges in getting started on a task.

Task-home messages:
  • It is okay to procrastinate as long as you obtain a clear vision about your goals.
  • Always believe in yourself when engage[grammar?] in a task.
  • Always plan before you initiate in task, this help give you clear vision about the errand.
  • You are allowed to feel sad and stress[grammar?] but remember to always pick yourself up after those dark and difficult moment.

See alsoEdit


Bandura. (1999). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy., 13(2).

Bailey, R. R. (2019). Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 13(6), 615–618.

Bond, M. J., & Feather, N. (1988). Some Correlates of Structure and Purpose in the Use of Time. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 321.

Collins, A., & Koechlin, E. (2012). Reasoning, learning, and creativity: frontal lobe function and human decision-making. PLoS biology, 10(3),

Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual review of psychology, 64, 135.

Ferrari, J. R., & Díaz-Morales, J. F. (2014). Procrastination and mental health coping: A brief report related to students. Individual differences research, 12(1), 8-11.

Gao, K., Zhang, R., Xu, T., Zhou, F., & Feng, T. (2021). The effect of conscientiousness on procrastination: The interaction between the self‐control and motivation neural pathways. Human Brain Mapping, 42(6), 1829–1844.

Gollwitzer. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist., 54(7).

Hayat, A, A., Shater, K., Amini, M., Shokrpour. N. (2020). Relationships between academic self-efficacy, learning-related emotions, and metacognitive learning strategies with academic performance in medical students: a structural equation model. BMC Medical Education., 20(1).

Ivancevich, J., Konopaske, R., & Matteson, M. T. (2008). Organizational Behaviours and Management (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Klassen, M, R., Krawchuk, L. L., & Rajani, S. (2008). Academic procrastination of undergraduates: Low self-efficacy to self-regulate predicts higher levels of procrastination. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33(4), 915–931.

Leventhal, H., Singer, R., & Jones, S. (1965). Effects of fear and specificity of recommendation upon attitudes and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2(1), 20–29.

Li, W., Lee, A., & Solmon, M. (2007). The role of perceptions of task difficulty in relation to self-perceptions of ability, intrinsic value, attainment value, and performance. European Physical Education Review, 13(3), 301–318.

Low, K. (2020). what is executive function. Verywell mind. Retrieved 1 October 2022, from

Mcleod, S. (2018). Maslow’s hierarchy of need. Retrieved 25 September 2022, from

Moonaghi, K, H., & Beydokhti, K, H. (2002). Academic procrastination and its characteristics: A Narrative Review. Future of medical education journal, 7(2), 43-50.

Steel. (2007). The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 65–94.

Sniehotta, Schwarzer, R., Scholz, U., & Schüz, B. (2005). Action planning and coping planning for long-term lifestyle change: theory and assessment. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35(4), 565–576. Bandura. (1999). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy., 13(2).

Tu, P., & Soman, D. (2014). The categorization of time and its impact on task initiation. The Journal of Consumer Research, 41(3), 810–822.

Woods, S. P., Lovejoy, D. W. & Ball, J. D. (2002). Neuropsychological characteristics of adults with ADHD: a comprehensive review of initial studies. The Clinical Neuropsychologist 16, 12–34.

External linksEdit