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Pet Ways to Ease Stress
with Jessica Loftus, Ph.D. & Jack Murray

Ease Back-to-School Stress: Stop Procrastinating 101

I live with a college student who procrastinates. He keeps me awake when he pulls all-nighters to finish his research papers. What’s a kitty to do? I know — I will write a blog post on how to stop procrastinating. Maybe he’ll read it.

Jumping right into my project, I set my sights on my goal. After sipping some cool water from my water dish, I carry my cuddly fleece blanket clenched between my teeth and snuggle into my favorite corner in the bedroom, ready to write.

Then the self-defeating thoughts begin. What does a kitty know about writing a blog post? How many words does it have to be?  How do I start?  How will I know when I am done?  I push these thoughts out of my mind as I write down my post title – Stop Procrastinating 101.

Soon, however, my mind wanders. I daydream about Fido, the neighborhood alley cat, challenging me to a duel. In my fantasy, my claws sink into his neck. Yowling and hissing, we scratch ourselves into a frenzy.

I force my focus back onto my writing.  What are my main points?  A naughty thought about Penelope invades my mind. Oh Penelope, the loveliest cat to grace this planet with her tantalizing cat walk.  She barely knows I exist.

With a startle, my reverie is disturbed by my college student returning from class. Lunch time! I hope he pours me a saucer of rich cream. Instead, he scoops me a bowl of stale, dry cat food.

Yuck!  So, I sneak into the pantry where the kitty treats are stored.  After devouring “a few.” I settle into my favorite cozy box and take a snooze. Come on! I need to be well rested to write a brilliant blog post.

Abruptly, I am awakened by a familiar scratching sound like a . . . mouse. “No mouses are allowed in my house.  I will not have it!” After I let out a few hisses and growls, the mouse retreats under the wall.  That will teach him. I finally try to pen a few lines, but my fury at the mouse distracts me.

Suddenly I realized I hadn’t written a single word about procrastination. My procrastination prevented me from writing about procrastination.                                                                                                        

Well, there were a lot of distractions, I rationalized. Kitties need to eat and sleep. Nobody helps me.  I need to be motivated.  My first draft must be perfect.  Writing is boring . . .  and there is always tomorrow.

A few tomorrows later, I still haven’t written anything. Time to visit my “purrchologist,” a human counselor who is fluent in Meow and specializes in feline issues. I explain that I need to stop procrastinating, so I can write a blog post on how to stop procrastinating to help a college student to stop procrastinating. After listening carefully to my situation, she assures me that procrastination is a common problem for both cats and humans.

Then the purrchologist suggests a few tips on how to stop procrastinating on my blog post.

  1. Figure out when you are most productive (e.g., afternoon or late night), and work then.
  2. Try the five-minute rule. Pursue a task for five minutes. If it seems too unbearable to continue, then stop. Try again later.
  3. Spend five minutes researching your topic – just get information.
  4. Spend five minutes organizing your work into manageable chunks. (e.g., read a page, write a paragraph).
  5. If you get stuck, spend five minutes brainstorming who to ask for help, then spend five minutes sending a follow up text, call or email.
  6. When writing, spend five minutes just jotting down the first thoughts that come to mind. Remind yourself you can always edit later.
  7. Each day spend five minutes on some part of your blog post. Eventually, all the five-minute sessions will add up, and sometimes, you might even work longer than five minutes.

After my session with the purrchologist, my mood seems a bit more hopeful. So, I try the five-minute rule later that evening. The first minute is tough, and it’s tempting to give up, but I keep at it for the remaining four minutes. Soon, I notice that nearly 15 minutes have passed, and my outline is complete. I even start thinking about writing a book – Why Cats are Smarter than Humans.


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Ease Back-to-School Stress: Stop Procrastinating 101

Jessica Loftus

Jessica Loftus has worked as a licensed clinical psychologist and national certified career counselor for more than 20 years. She currently offers counseling sessions via telehealth in Illinois. Her website,, outlines steps for making a career decision. details. See her retired blog, "Pet Ways to Ease Stress,"

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APA Reference
Loftus, J. (2018). Ease Back-to-School Stress: Stop Procrastinating 101. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Aug 2018
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