Education | Excellence in Action: Practical Ways to Overcome Procrastination |


From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Procrastination comes to us all. And sometimes, we don’t have enough time. Today, we unpack how we overcome procrastination.. However, learning to say no is also part of the equation. So is making time to get work done. We also have to be realistic and know the things we just can’t do as teachers since our schedules are already so full. This show is for anyone, especially educators, who has looming tasks and is struggling to focus to get them done.

We also talk about the value of the systems of extensive lesson planning and why using those systems sometimes makes us better in our everyday teaching in the classroom.

YouTube Video

This week’s guest

Author of The Freelance Educator: Practical Advice for Starting Your Educational Consulting Business, Tinashe Blanchet is a former high school math teacher with over 20 years of experience in education and teacher training. She has traveled around the United States to train thousands of teachers on using technology to enhance their instruction. Tinashe has built a strong reputation as a skilled communicator and tech-savvy educator and has presented at local, state, national, and international education conferences and events, including ISTE and NCTM.  With a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, Tinashe has served as a non-profit founder and director, college instructor and independent educational consultant.  She is now the numeracy specialist and product specialist for Equatio at Texthelp, a company that creates an award-winning suite of products that helps millions of people read, write and research with confidence worldwide. Tinashe is also an Albert Hamilton Collins Fellow at Auburn University, working towards earning her Ph.D. in mathematics education. Blog: Linked In:

🎙️ Show Notes

Resources Mentioned:


Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy: Discusses the importance of tackling your most significant, most daunting task first to increase productivity.“Hidden Potential” by Adam Grant: Explains how teaching character skills like proactivity and perseverance can lead to better outcomes than just teaching business skills.“Slow Productivity” by Cal Newport: Advocates for a more deliberate approach to work, allowing for deep work and minimizing burnout by not overloading schedules.


Google Tasks: Used by Tinashe for breaking down tasks and scheduling.Desmos: An online tool for creating interactive mathematics lessons.Pear Deck and Nearpod: Tools for making educational presentations more interactive.

Actionable Tips:

Divide Large Tasks: Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to make progress more achievable.Prioritize Tasks: Start with the most challenging tasks first. This approach not only clears significant hurdles early in the day but also boosts motivation and productivity.Use Digital Tools for Planning: Implement tools like Google Tasks for detailed planning and reminders to stay on track.Set Realistic Deadlines: Assign deadlines to tasks and plan to complete them before the actual due date to ensure they are completed on time.Educate on Time Management: Especially in educational settings, teaching both students and educators effective time management and planning techniques can significantly enhance learning and teaching efficiency.

📝 Transcript

I used AI in either Premiere Pro or Riverside to help with this transcript. I did proofread it. If you see mistakes, just contact me and let me know. YouTube autotranscripts are not pre-viewed. Thank you!


Vicki Davis (00:00)
I’m so excited today to have my friend, Tinashe Blanchet on the show. She is a former high school math teacher She has been a college instructor, educational consultant, but now she works for TextHelp and the EquatIO product, she is at Auburn University getting her PhD.

this summer, she’s going to present at the International Math Congress in Australia. Now, Tinashe, but we’re not talking about math. We’re actually going to talk about a really important topic, procrastination. a lot of people are struggling with this right now, right?

Tinashe Blanchet (00:34)
Yes. honestly, I think a lot of people don’t think that it’s a problem, I can think of at least three people right off the top of my head. Some of my close friends who are professionals, educators who think that procrastination is totally fine. And, you know, I’ve heard people say,

I have to wait until the last minute so that I can feel inspired, But I’m really at a point in my career, where I just don’t want to procrastinate anymore. So I’m really actively working on it.

Vicki Davis (01:06)
you study procrastination, successful people procrastinate the right things and tackle the right things, But procrastination can hit all of us. Like we know we have something we need to do. And for me, when I know I have something I need to do,

I like to split it down into smaller tasks I have a laundry basket. I don’t want to fold. Yesterday I folded five things out of the basket. This morning I folded five things out of the basket. how do you tackle procrastination?

Tinashe Blanchet (01:35)
Well, that’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot how do you face overwhelming So as an educator, a lot of times just planning a lesson.

can be a really overwhelming task. I’m not a classroom teacher right now, but as you mentioned, I’m currently working on my PhD in math education at I’m taking my classes, there are times where I have to teach lessons. And so I know that I have a lesson that I need to teach, rather than doing what I used to do in my backsliding days, which is the night before, you know, scribble in into that lesson.

template, whatever I’m required to do, I’m really, using Google tasks to say, okay, let me break this down into pieces. And so the first piece would be to take like whatever lesson. So usually when you’re teaching a lesson, it’s coming from somewhere, right? It’s coming from a curriculum, it’s coming from a textbook. And so just giving myself time, like maybe a few weeks before I need to teach the lesson to sit down and just read what’s been presented to me and annotate it.

So I was looking at a lesson the other day and I realized, oh, this will be really cool with Desmos, It would be really great for me to design the Desmos Classroom Activity. Now that’s not the first idea I had. The first idea was I just need to make something interactive. So I was thinking maybe Pear Deck or Nearpod or something like that. But then because I had weeks to prepare for this lesson,

It gave me time to realize like to have that eureka moment and say, Ooh, I think I’m going to use Desmos and then actually have time to design a custom Desmos activity. Procrastination can really rob you of the time that you need to like prepare for things.

Vicki Davis (03:15)
I’ve got a couple of big presentations coming up in the next month or so, and I’ve already drafted the outline and I kind of go back and add things to the outline. I like Tiago Forte’s building your second brain methodology, which basically means that once I have a task, I build a notebook for it. And as I grab things, I throw that into that notebook. So when I sit down with that notebook, everything’s kind of already together and I’m already thinking on it. I think in the age of AI,

we can’t underestimate the importance of the human thought process and the sooner we can start thinking on whatever that is that we have due the better off and the better product is going to be in the more creative because that’s something unique that we let’s talk about,

How do you make yourself do what you don’t want to do?

Tinashe Blanchet (04:04)
before the podcast started, we were talking about a book that I just recently read called Eat That Brian Tracy. when I tell my friends about this book, they’re like, what does that mean? Eat that frog. And so he talks about in the book, this idea that if you got up in the morning and you ate a live

That would be a horrible experience, but at least you would know that’s probably the worst thing that you would have to do that So that’s where the eat that frog metaphor comes from. And so that’s something that I have really started doing is the thing that I know I’m probably going to procrastinate on. Just go ahead and do If it’s something that I can do quickly, just knock it out.

Vicki Davis (04:30)
Mm -hmm.

Tinashe Blanchet (04:44)
Or if it’s something that I can’t do quickly, then at least take the time to break it down into those subtasks so that you have a plan moving forward. And I try to put dates to it. I try to look at my calendar and say, OK, how long is it going to take me to get this done? And so that has really helped me to get more, on top of the things that I need to be doing.

Vicki Davis (05:07)
Well, and I’ve read before as I’ve tried to help students with procrastination that in some ways, some people can become adrenaline junkies with procrastination and they get used to that adrenaline hit of pulling that all nighter or whatever.

So you reach a point where that adrenaline is just not going to get you through the excellent work that you need to do.

How can we talk to others about helping them understand the importance of tackling those big jobs, eating those big frogs?

Tinashe Blanchet (05:35)
I think I just got to a point where I’m too old to be, pulling all nighters or being stressed out. you hit on it with the word excellent, we don’t realize that when we don’t give ourselves enough time to accomplish a task, we’re not doing our best work.

that’s actually something that one of my college professors told me when I was working on my masters, Because I was still procrastinating in my master’s program. And this was back in 09. I remember my major professor telling me at the time, Tinashe once you get to a point where you stop procrastinating, you’re going to be amazed at what you can

you’re not really tapping into your full potential, when you’re not giving yourself enough time. And that’s the way I would put it. every year I set like a manifestation goal for myself, like the word of the year. And so I knew this year,

Vicki Davis (06:22)
Mm -hmm.

Tinashe Blanchet (06:25)
that I wanted to defeat procrastination. And I realized that the opposite of procrastination is preparation, And so that has been kind of my mantra to myself is how can I be prepared? I believe strongly in focusing my energy and my attention on attracting what I want and not what I don’t want.

Vicki Davis (06:33)

Tinashe Blanchet (06:45)
So every day, I don’t think, don’t procrastinate. I think, how can I prepare? What can I prepare for today? And if that’s your constant mindset, how can I be prepared? I think even having that conversation with students, So I think if we reframe it in that way, that may help folks make that jump to realize, huh.

Vicki Davis (06:45)
Mm -hmm.

Tinashe Blanchet (07:06)
Maybe procrastinating isn’t working for me.

Vicki Davis (07:09)
There’s a fantastic book. I’m only on chapter two called hidden potential by Adam Grant. And in this book, he’s really talking about what are the things that if you teach people that they actually improve their performance. And they took two sets of entrepreneurs and one group, they spent a week teaching them business skills. The other group, they spent a week teaching them proactivity

creativity, perseverance, tackling issues, head on which he calls character skills. within three months, the ones that learned those skills were more profitable than those who just learned about business.

And he makes this argument that when we teach people to be proactive, which can be done at any age, we teach people proactivity, and we teach them to hit issues head on, what goes with that is greater accomplishment, greater peace, greater, a lot of things.

let me ask you this, Tinashe, what are you already seeing because you’ve been hitting your procrastination head on in terms of benefits to you as a person?

Tinashe Blanchet (08:16)
first of all, my grades. My grades are looking good right now and I know that that’s a direct result of me being more proactive with my work. one of the reasons why I decided to make preparation my goal in January is because I got a B, And you know, in graduate school, a B is like,

Vicki Davis (08:34)

Tinashe Blanchet (08:38)
You know, so when I got a B in the fall, I had to really look myself in the mirror you know, sometimes things like that will happen and you’re like with your pitchfork and you’re like, this is a grave injustice. It wasn’t that at all. I knew, I knew that procrastination earned me that B, I think from an educator standpoint,

especially working on a terminal degree, I know that I’m gonna be using what I learned to teach others. And so I’m asking myself at this point in my career, am I being the kind of student that I would expect my students to because how can I tell my students these are my expectations, grade them accordingly, knowing full well that when I was a student, I wasn’t giving it my,

full effort. And that’s challenging. It’s really challenging because I still have a full -time job. I still have my kids. I still have a life, So for me, it’s still even in the midst of all of that, I feel like, when folks say I’m too busy, I don’t have enough time, that’s an even more of a reason for you to get really disciplined about how you manage your time and how you get things done because it just adds stress on top of stress.

Vicki Davis (09:24)
Mm -hmm.

Tinashe Blanchet (09:48)
when you’re not on top of And I certainly don’t want to say that like I’ve got it all figured I’m calling myself a recovering procrastinator. every day I have to remind myself, okay, let’s look at the to -do list. What can you knock out?

now that I’m actually tracking things instead of keeping them in my head, even when I say Oh, I don’t have time to do this today. now, like if something is due on the first, Then I’m trying to get it done at least by like the 15th or the 20th. So the 15th or the 20th rolls around and I’m like, Oh, I don’t have time to do this. I can put it off.

Vicki Davis (10:04)

Tinashe Blanchet (10:25)
but I’m still ahead of the game. now that I’m holding myself to a higher standard of getting things done earlier, even when it gets to be a lot, I can still say, okay, okay, I can manage a full -time student, another thing that I’ve realized is that I have to give myself time. So I was looking at my days at work and

So I was able this semester to take every other Tuesday off. And that’s my day that I work on school. And I think that’s the other thing a lot of times we don’t do is we don’t give ourselves that space. now I still have to do schoolwork on Saturdays. Sunday is my day. I don’t want to do any work for anybody on Sundays. But Saturday, I do my schoolwork.

Vicki Davis (10:58)

Tinashe Blanchet (11:09)
and every other Tuesday is like my catch up day. it’s not just about piling on the work, it’s also about managing it more and being realistic about how much time you need to do things,

Vicki Davis (11:17)

And say a no to something so you can say yes to others. Another great book I’m right in the middle of reading. It’s Cal Newport’s Slow Productivity. he argues that we are trying to do too much and we’re not letting ourselves get in the flow state. so it’s better if you designate a day like just like you’re doing Tinashe, where you say this day is my PhD day.

there’s just ways that we can schedule ourselves because here’s the thing we want to be a human being, not a human doing.

when we’re just doing all the time, we’re not ever being. if we’ve all learned anything, it’s that relationships are important and getting outside is important and go into a concert and doing all these things with our families and making those memories with your kids, these things are important and we have to make time for those, that’s something you can’t procrastinate. You can’t procrastinate your children because they’re going to be up and gone

Tinashe Blanchet (11:50)


Vicki Davis (12:16)
before you know it,

Tinashe Blanchet (12:17)
thinking about this from an educator standpoint,

I have worked with teachers for years and the main issue that teachers have is not having enough time, And so when you say to an educator, you should stop procrastinating and they’re like, really? Walk a mile in my shoes. Right. Right.

Vicki Davis (12:33)
Yeah, it’s just seriously like like you show me when I have the time to do this. Yep.

Tinashe Blanchet (12:39)
I would say there was this article I was reading the other day for class. It’s called Thinking Through a Lesson. And it’s actually a protocol. It’s called TTLP. And you take a task and break it Think it all the way through. Think about all the questions that you’re gonna ask. Think about all of the ways that students would solve it, the incorrect ways that they would solve

if you’ve ever taken an education course, like even in undergrad, they’ll give you this long, like three page lesson plan template. And you’re thinking to yourself, I don’t have time. I’m not going to do this every day. So what’s the point? A lot of times we go into schools and they’re not expecting that. They’re just expecting a little quick bulleted list. What are you going to do? And so one of my favorite quotes from that article says this, many teachers first reaction to the TTLP may be this.

It’s so overwhelming. No one could use this to plan lessons every day. It was never intended that a teacher would write out answers to all these questions every day. Rather, teachers have used the TTLP periodically and collaboratively to prepare lessons so that over time, a repertoire of carefully designed lessons grows.

when I train teachers whether it’s new technology or new protocols to use. And the first thing they think is this is going to take a lot of time. And my response to that has always been nobody’s saying you have to do this every day. Right. But when you do it, even if you do it once or twice, that careful deep planning is going to change the way you even when you have to write a really quick lesson plan. Yes.

Vicki Davis (14:11)
Yeah, it changes you as the human. Yeah.

Tinashe Blanchet (14:15)
it’s worthwhile to, even if it’s, once a month, once a quarter to, really commit yourself to deeply, deeply planning. So whether it’s the TTLP or it’s that lesson plan template that you got when you were in undergrad or grad school or, whatever it is, anytime you have an opportunity to really deeply plan something.

it’s gonna have an impact

Vicki Davis (14:40)
The topic is procrastination. I hope that all of you listening have gotten some techniques, some tips, not only to help you as you deal with the very human problem of procrastination, but also how to rise to excellence and become more proactive

So her name is Tinashe Blanchet. We’ve known each other for quite some time. Thanks for coming on the show, Tinashe.

Tinashe Blanchet (15:00)
Thanks for having me, I appreciate it and appreciate the work that you’ve been doing all these years.


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The post Excellence in Action: Practical Ways to Overcome Procrastination appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

 From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter
Procrastination comes to us all. And sometimes, we don’t have enough time. Today, we unpack how we…
The post Excellence in Action: Practical Ways to Overcome Procrastination appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow! All Grades, All Subjects, Monday Motivation, Productivity, Teachers Your Ultimate Destination for Beauty Products, Viral News, and Trendy Videos

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