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I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

5 Beat Summer Procrastination Tips for Teachers and Teens

 5 Beat procrastination tips for teachers and teens

Have you been to your local supply chain store lately?

OMG. Teacher’s. Worst. Nightmare.

What - My brain is screaming - It’s back to school season already?!?!

Back to school clothes. Back to school accessories. Back to school devices. Back to school supplies. Back to school Louis Vuitton pencils and Chanel pencil cases. Are you kidding me? It’s still July!

Anxiety sets in. I frantically search my cargo shorts’ pockets, pull the phone out, and carefully count the days ‘til I have to report for duty. Turns out, “back to the grind” begins in 15 days. No sweat. I exhale.

Wait! Is that in like two weeks?

What?!?!

When?!?!

How?!?!

The adrenaline is back. I spent my summer writing because I liked it during the day and watching too many Netflix shows for far too long into the night. Reading, camping, grilling, and growing tomatoes while fighting chipmunks occupied my time. I haven’t even watched that many LeBron James memes or World Cup highlights videos.

Why does this happen every single year?

Why am I such an anxious freak at the beginning of each year even after doing it 15 times before?

But wait – my rational brain says - You have three weeks and this time it will be different. You will prepare. You will be ready. You will not procrastinate.  

No sweat. I only have to complete the following list items before day one: Paint tables with whiteboard paint, decorate my chemistry room, order chemistry supplies, fix the broken legs on armchairs and the couch, prepare a presentation for the open house, fix broken Chromebooks, learn the new learning management system our district is using this year because the previous three are not enough, figure out what chemistry topics I can get rid of in favor of more projects and skills instruction, figure out these projects, decorate my engineering room, get the broken PCs fixed, get new software licenses, clean up the robotics kit parts still spread around the room from last year (did I mention I am a procrastinator?), order more kit parts and other consumables (but first figure out what is needed), get the new 3D printer operational, plan 3-5 initial lessons that use 3D printing, plan at least the first week of instruction, send copies to the district copy center for printing, and what seems like a hundred other things I am forgetting at the moment.

“The list” is the villain. It’s too much for our brains to juggle so they shut down. To avoid brain pain, we procrastinate. However, with the right approach we can achieve.

Here are my 5 tips for procrastinators:

1. Chunk the project into a series of smaller achievable steps.

This will prevent your brain from becoming overwhelmed.

For example, “Paint tables with whiteboard paint” involves (1) begging the principal, (2) finding a cheap online supplier, (3) ordering via the school treasurer, (4) washing the tables, (5) covering the floors, (6) priming the tables, (7) first paint coat, and (8) second coat.

2. Write down a plan of action.

Plan ahead for work sessions and brain breaks. Write down what you will work on during each session and then reward yourself with a 5-minute break doing something you like. Then, get back to it!

Example: Work - Beg the principal, find a supplier, order. Break - catch up with a colleague. Work - cover floors and wash tables. Break – grab more coffee. Work. Break. Optional – blast heavy metal music while at it.

3. Follow your plan.

Work in short, uninterrupted chunks of time. Set a timer to 25 minutes and work on one small chunk of the bigger project.

4. Start with the most pleasurable task.

This will motivate you to keep going due to a release of dopamine.

My principal has always been supportive of my wild ideas, so this is easy.

5. Plan for and deal with as many distractions as possible before you begin working.

Examples: Clear your work area, put your phone in airplane mode, tell everyone around what you are doing and ask not to be disturbed, close your door and put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on it etc.

The tips work both for teachers and their students. They work during spring, summer, autumn, and winter so use them anytime you want to "get to it tomorrow."

And if you teach or parent teens, you know one or two or a hundred who major in Procrastination Sciences. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and get started on those tables. Or do you think I should start tomorrow?


Just a quick reminder that Crush School Student Guide, my new learning how to learn book for teens, is now available on Amazon.

You can buy it here.

And if you already purchased one or simply value the work I do, you can help me get the word out about the Crush School Student Guide to other teachers and parents of teens.

Here are the 3 easy ways you can help:

  1. Simply tell others who can benefit from the book about it - teachers who need lessons to teach study skills and parents of teens.
  2. Tweet. Super easy - just click: Share on Twitter below.
  3. Share on Facebook. Easy. Click on Share on Facebook below and Copy/Paste this text: Check out this book to help teach teens how to crush it in high school. Free Bonuses Inside.
  4. Do all three! You will have my gratitude forever :)

You have the power to change lives. Use it often so they can change the world.