I’ve had more than one client recently worry about their inability to get down to their writing. (You are not alone.)
This is not a minor problem. It can lead you to question your ability to do the work you are doing and to question your own identity. If you aren’t an academic and a writer, who are you?
Procrastination is neither a congenital defect nor a moral failing.
You are not lazy.
You do not lack a work ethic.
Procrastination is a clue.
What do you know about cats? Even if you don’t have cats, I’m hoping you’ve seen enough cat pictures on the internet to know that they have a tendency to demand attention. I have one sitting on my lap right now.
If a cat wants attention she will jump right up and sit on your keyboard or the book you are reading. This one on my lap will put her paws on my chest (digging her claws in to hold on) and poke her nose in my face.
It is impossible to work while she is doing this.
However, if I give her a little bit of my undivided attention she will then curl up and go to sleep. She makes a nice wrist rest. My partner has a cat nest his desk for her.
Important tasks and projects are like the cat on the keyboard
If you are not giving a project you really deep-down think is important the attention it deserves, it will stop you from working on the other stuff.
The key here is that you really deep-down think it is important. Not what you are supposed to think is important. Not what your colleagues think is important. What YOU think is important.
Procrastination is a clue that there is something that needs more attention.
Your metaphorical cat on the keyboard may be a project you are passionate about that you know (or fear) academic colleagues won’t value. Or, a different method of doing generative writing that seems more efficient. Or, it may be other tasks on your to do list that object to being considered less important. Or, …there are lots of possibilities.
If you can figure out what your cat-on-the-keyboard is, you can make a metaphorical cat nest for it on your desk.
- Have you scheduled time to work on the project you are passionate about?
- Have you scheduled time for the items on your to do list?
- Have you tried that “crazy” way of writing?
You don’t necessarily have to do the more important things first, but you do need to plan time to work on them. And actually work on them.
This isn’t the only thing procrastination can be telling you. In future posts, I will talk about other things the clue of procrastination might be pointing to.
Sometimes it takes some experimentation to figure out what the problem is.
Try things. Make notes. Evaluate. Try something else.
And don’t forget that I can help you tease out some of these issues. A 1-hour coaching session ($175) can clarify what the cat is and set up some initial experiments. We can then follow that up with weekly e-mail support ($75/month) to encourage your new ways of working, commiserate when necessary, re-evaluate and adjust, and just generally keep you on track.