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.
- Figure out when you are most productive (e.g., afternoon or late night), and work then.
- Try the five-minute rule. Pursue a task for five minutes. If it seems too unbearable to continue, then stop. Try again later.
- Spend five minutes researching your topic – just get information.
- Spend five minutes organizing your work into manageable chunks. (e.g., read a page, write a paragraph).
- 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.
- When writing, spend five minutes just jotting down the first thoughts that come to mind. Remind yourself you can always edit later.
- 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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