The Lesson Deb Sarah Learned About Procrastination From Her Little Brother

My little brother (well, he’s not so little now–he’s four years younger than me, which makes him 28), has had a lifelong eating tradition that has helped him get through many a meal he didn’t like. His trick? Beginning when he was a toddler, he’d eat the food on his plate that he least liked. So when green beans were served? Yup, he started there. Nowadays, if you have him over for dinner, you can always tell which food he thinks is least appetizing by where he first sets his fork.

But, my baby brother’s eating habit also works for the rest of life too, and I’ve started to adapt it in my life. I can procrastinate with the best of them, but life is so packed now (kids, magazine work, fiction deadlines) that procrastination comes with a cost, so (sleep, missed deadlines, fussy kids–you name it). I’m much happier when I take charge of the chaos, which is where my brother’s trick comes in. I’m a huge list-maker, so every night before I go to bed, I make a list of things I need to do the following day. The next morning, I tackle the list based on the things I’m most stressed/worried/anxious about. It’s become the most effective way for me to a.) get things done, and b.) manage my stress.

Lots of people use this strategy–it’s by no means my invention (or my brother’s!), but I can’t speak highly enough of what it can do for life happiness. Sure, I still get sucked into Facebook, iTunes (did you know that you can download The Beatles songs now?!), Twitter, etc., etc., but I’ve made a habit of not putting off the annoying tasks for too long. They have a way to grow into little monsters that haunt you.

Remember, when you’re procrastinating, eat your green beans first!

xo, Sarah

P.S. Just for fun: Want to see photos of the advance reader copies of my book? I let my 1 and 3 year old check them out, and this is what happened

12 Replies to “The Lesson Deb Sarah Learned About Procrastination From Her Little Brother”

  1. When I was teaching, I remember reading a study that found that with homework, girls were more likely to do the easier, less time-consuming tasks first, and boys were more likely to do the harder projects first. There were negatives to both sides – girls had less energy when dealing with the more complex work, but boys got frustrated after working on the tough things and were more likely to ditch the easier tasks afterward.

    I do totally support list-making – it helps me sleep better at night and then I have a plan for my day. I’ll have to try the green beans system next!

  2. My brother and I didn’t like green beans, either, so we decided to cut them into small pieces and swallow them like pills. That worked well until my brother cut his too big and hurked all over the table.

    We didn’t have to eat green beans after that.


  3. Hmmm… I do the same thing with food. However, I do *not* carry it further — the stuff I hate to do still gets shoved as far back as possible — until deadline or catastrophe looms….

    My husband, bless his pointy little head, is just disgustingly self-disciplined. He can literally force himself to sit down and actually DO IT RIGHT NOW, whether he wants to or not.

    Talk about hurking — that’s me in the background.

    I am getting a bit better about shoving some stuff off on him, knowing it will get done.

    Oh, yes, and did I mention he’s not fat either, he bikes to and from work (6 mi each way, each day). Rain or shine. Only icy bikepath and/or Rhine over its banks will prevent him from his daily exercise.

    Man, now that I look at that, what am I doing with this guy??? Oh, yeah, I remember: I’m the techie…

  4. Re: the skittles, when I was a kid, and Froot Loops only came in 3 colors, my sister and I would wake up to find only yellow and orange Loops. No red, though we’d had a full complement of colors the day before. Next morning? Only orange Loops. Turned out my mom liked Froot Loops as a late night snack, but would eat them by color, starting with her favorite reds, and working her way down to the oranges.

    She left the prize inside tho, so that was good.

  5. Elise, funny about your mom and the Froot Loops. Oddly, this made me remember that I loved red Lifesavers as a kid. Only the red ones! xoxo

  6. I do that too, eat the most unappetizing food first that is. It’s a great idea to apply it to your daily life.

    Congrats on the ARC’s, your kids look adorable.

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