Friday, March 3, 2017

#SOL17 On Projects and Procrastination 3/31

2017 is the tenth year of the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers, but it is my first time participating. The goal is to write and post a "slice of life" story every day during the month of March. (I will still be posting book reviews but a little less frequently.)

Many classrooms are also participating in the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge. My seventh graders will be joining in a very limited form (writing 10 posts over the 10 class periods we have after March 7th when our previous unit wraps up). We'd love to connect with other middle schoolers via Kidblog (drop me a line at katie at to connect).

Slice of Life: On Projects and Procrastination

I am fairly certain that everyone survives through a healthy dose of procrastination. Personally I usually find it a productive way to get things done. Deadlines inspire motivation inspire (perhaps) the fear necessary to kick yourself into gear.

I am such an old pro at procrastination (har, har), that I even wrote a paper about it in high school. It was titled "I'll Think of One Eventually" and was an accounting of the many unfinished projects and to do list items that haunted my daily life. Some of them (like painting over the bright pink tulip border in my bedroom) eventually came to fruition, while others did not. But a big part of those things that did eventually get done was the aspect of accountability or a deadline, knowing that for some reason beyond just myself, I needed to get something done.

Rather than focus on the negative side of it (procrastination), I chose to put a more positive look on it and recognize that accountability inspires action and productivity. Back when I participated in 365 Project (a daily photography challenge), knowing that other people were looking at and commenting on my images helped spur me to get off the couch, drag out my camera, and try something new.

Sometimes that something new was a photo walk or an exploration of a new photography technique or idea I hadn't tried before (above: light painting the words "brown out" after losing power in a heat wave one July). And sometimes that something new was taking a quick snapshot of my shoe or a bowl of Skittles and calling it a day.

I learned so much about both myself and my camera through the discipline of daily photography, that I kept at it well past my first 365 days, eventually reaching more than 1,000 before stepping back to give myself time for other things (including a photography blog and then later this teaching blog).

One of the big reasons I decided to finally jump in to the Slice of Life Story Challenge is to give myself that pressure, those deadlines, that accountability to motivate myself to do more writing, more reflecting, and more capturing of the small but meaningful bits of my everyday. Sure, "doing it for myself" ought to be enough, but we all know that it is easier to let ourselves down that to let anyone else know. So, thanks for keeping me going.

What are your favorite strategies for "forcing" yourself into positive action?

(Click here to read my previous Slice of Life Challenge posts.)


  1. I always tell my writing students to reframe procrastination and call it percolation. I do think most projects need more marinating time than we tend to want to give them. But I also agree with you that having a structure and a system for accountability in place makes it ever so much easier to get the work done! Daily challenges are one of my favorite ways to force myself to get things done.

    1. "Percolation," that's perfect! I'm really curious to see how my slimmed down SOLC gets my seventh graders writing and growing too.

    2. ❤ "percolation"! Yes! As for systems and structures -- research "procrastination" (yes, to procrastinate), I came across "pre-crastination" or starting and finishing right away without percolation.

      Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate,

  2. I am glad you are slicing this month! For me, once I write it in my bullet journal, it gets done. I hate to leave things not checked off. I'm a little OCD that way. :)

  3. I find that I set constraints for myself as an artist--limit the medium and the time and that gets me going. I love that your share how taking photographs of the ordinary, etc. revealed something about yourself. I imagine the scope of that project opened a of ways of knowing how you see and what counts as art, etc.

  4. Have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? I highly recommend. Your post made me think of the book! I love photographs. In October, I took a photo every day and wrote a haiku for it. It was a special project!

  5. I set deadlines and goals for myself, otherwise I would get nothing done! I am glad you are slicing! My third graders are slicing too- I only gave one day of class time to it- the other 30 slices they have to do from home, but it is optional. About half are really committed.

  6. hahaha... we're definitely having a GMTA moment. Last night, after submitting my Day 3 -- and 3rd post in a row -- at 10:58 pm, I started a post on procrastination. It's in drafts. Don't smirk. I made a list too.


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