Thanksgiving Break for the Chronic Procrastinator

Here is Account Associate Lisa DeBone's tips for Thanksgiving break... I wonder how she did on these lists of hers? ;)

Rewind: It’s the first day of Thanksgiving break, and we at GVSU are finally getting a relief from the daily grind. Isn’t it great that Thanksgiving falls right in that point of the semester when it seems all of the due dates are looming?

If you’re like me, you’re thinking “Awesome, I have five days in a row without class. I’m going to get so. much. done.”

And if you’re like me, Sunday night will pop up out of nowhere and you will have gotten a lot of things out of the way. Like Thanksgiving leftovers from the fridge and a few seasons of New Girl.

Shoot. What happened?

Usually I make a to-do list. I love making lists. I think through all of the things that I need to get done, or just want to get done. I color-code, number, re-organize these lists until I’ve spent enough time listing to feel productive and I give myself a break. Woo hoo now I’ll know exactly what to do when it’s time to hit the ground running. Next episode of New Girl won’t hurt though, and I have plenty of time to get started on that stuff later.

You can probably tell how far that has gotten me in the past. However, I have come a long way in the effort to kick this habit. And here are a few ways that work for me.

Get over the list

Yes, I do still make myself lists, and I probably still spend too much time doing so, but now I consciously limit my time writing out the plan. I have to remind myself that planning is only beneficial if the doing actually takes place.  So what I have found to be better is giving myself themes. “Ok I’m just going to focus on this one class right now,” or “The next hour will be devoted to professional development stuff.”

If I have an entire list in front of me, I usually get overwhelmed by all the to-dos and start bouncing around all of them, working a little bit here and there and not actually getting any one thing done. So while it’s important to make the list, it’s also important to set it aside so it doesn’t become too much of a distraction.

Oxygenate your blood

Occasionally when I’ve gotten something done and I’m feeling pretty good, I let myself relax, check Facebook, watch a YouTube video or two… or five… which leads to forty-five minutes later and all of a sudden I’m feeling lazy and there’s always tomorrow, right? This happens more than I care to admit.

That being said, it is still crucial to take brain breaks while trying to tackle the workload. Instead of browsing the internet, go for a walk or do some push-ups and jumping jacks. Getting your blood flowing and releasing endorphins will not only give your brain a break from what you’ve been working on, it will also prepare you for the next chunk of work.

“The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” –Theodore Roosevelt

I’m sure when Teddy shared this piece of wisdom he didn’t have to-do lists in mind. But I think it’s still applicable. The hardest part about getting started on anything is getting over the idea that it has to be perfect. I can’t tell you how many times I started this blog and erased it and started over. And it’s definitely not perfect. When I start to think about a task and I “just don’t feel like doing it right now,” it’s usually that I don’t want it to be anything less than perfect so it’s easier to just put it off. And that gets us nowhere. So break it down into smaller chunks, take a breath, and start.

Alright, fellow procrastinators, let’s come back from Thanksgiving not being able to call each other that anymore. Ready, BREAK.

(**Disclaimer: none of these suggestions are to be used on the day of Thanksgiving. Enjoy your families and relax!)

-Lisa