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Hemingway on Procrastination

Procrastination is a common obstacle. It’s a phenomenon that does not discriminate, affecting tasks from essay writing to complex problem-solving in mathematics or science. The root of procrastination often lies not in laziness, but in a lack of clear direction or overwhelming task size. It’s usually a problem with starting a problem, not finishing one. As we have discussed in other posts, the key to beating procrastination is making the initial stage easier. By decreasing the activation energy required, students are more likely to start the task. When students get started, finishing is actually quite easy.

Beating procrastination is central to our unique Executive Function curriculum. We believe that every student has the ability to thrive within and beyond the classroom, they just need the right tools. Organization, time management, learning skills, and impression management are the four pillars of student success. For plaguing problems like procrastination, utilizing the four pillars is crucial. Borrowing from a few different pillars, the Hemingway Bridge is a simple tool to beat procrastination.

Integrating the Hemingway Bridge with Other EF Skills

The concept of the Hemingway Bridge, inspired by the famous author Ernest Hemingway, offers a practical solution to the pervasive issue of procrastination. Hemingway’s approach was unique in its simplicity and effectiveness. He never ended a writing session without knowing what he would write next. This method of leaving a clear, actionable step for the next session can be a game-changer for students across various disciplines.

Ernest Hemingway developed the Hemingway Bridge out of necessity. Renowned for his distinct writing style, Hemingway was also known for his disciplined approach to writing. He adopted this strategy not only to maintain creative momentum, but also to mitigate the challenges of writer’s block. Hemingway famously said, ‘The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next.’ By ensuring he never ended a session at a dead end, Hemingway could always start the next day with clear direction and purpose. This approach allowed him to harness his current state of mind and ideas, effectively bridging the gap between sessions.

The Hemingway Bridge aligns perfectly with several key themes in SAOTG’s core Executive Function curriculum. It encourages students to break down daunting tasks into manageable steps, promoting a methodical approach to tackling academic challenges.

Firstly, it teaches the importance of planning ahead, both in terms of time and the sequence of tasks. By identifying what comes next, students are essentially laying out a roadmap for their future selves, reducing the cognitive load when they resume work. This kind of forward-thinking is crucial in developing effective study habits and time management skills.

Secondly, the Hemingway Bridge fosters momentum in academic work. The hardest part of any task is often starting, and by having a clear next step, students can easily pick up the pace without losing precious time. This momentum is vital in maintaining a consistent work ethic and avoiding the pitfalls of procrastination.

Lastly, this strategy helps in dividing complex tasks into simpler, more achievable steps. By focusing on the immediate next action, students can avoid feeling overwhelmed by the scale of their projects. This piecemeal approach makes even the most daunting tasks approachable and less intimidating.

How Students Can Use This Tool

Applying the Hemingway Bridge in academic settings extends beyond writing essays or stories. It is equally effective in planning for a science project, outlining a history assignment, or even preparing for cumulative exams. The principle is straightforward: always conclude your study session by defining the next step. This approach ensures that when you return to your task, you’re not lost at sea but have a clear direction to sail towards.

The versatility of the Hemingway Bridge lies in its applicability to a wide range of academic scenarios. For instance, in mathematics, a student might end a study session by solving half of a problem, leaving the rest for the next session. This creates a starting point that is both familiar and challenging, inviting immediate engagement upon return.

In the sciences, especially during experiments or research projects, students can jot down the next step in their experimental process or a hypothesis they plan to test. This clarity propels them into action, making the resumption of work less daunting.

Similarly, for projects in subjects like history or literature, ending a session with a partially developed argument or a question to explore next time provides a clear and immediate focus for the next study session.

Closing Thoughts

The Hemingway Bridge is more than just a tool for overcoming procrastination; it’s a bridge to consistent academic success. It encapsulates the essence of SAOTG’s Executive Function curriculum by fostering organization, strategic planning, and effective time management. This simple yet powerful approach not only aids in the immediate completion of tasks but also cultivates lifelong skills that are crucial in the academic and professional worlds.

By adopting the Hemingway Bridge, students can transform the way they approach their academic work. It shifts the focus from being overwhelmed by the enormity of tasks to taking control through clear, actionable steps. This shift is pivotal in building confidence, enhancing productivity, and fostering a positive attitude towards learning and problem-solving.

At SAOTG, our mission is to equip students with the tools and skills they need to thrive. Whether through our blog resources or one-on-one academic coaching, we are committed to guiding students in implementing effective EF strategies.

If you’re ready to tackle procrastination and enhance your learning experience, explore our blog for more insights or reach out for personalized academic coaching.

Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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