About five months ago a new family member came to live with us—a stray cat that we have since named Longfellow. We refer to him as our “foster son,” but the reality is that he adopted us. Though we tried for months to find him a good home (other than ours), he made it quite clear that he would be staying.
I’m trying to train him up to be my administrative assistant, but I’m not so sure that’s working…
As it turns out, Longfellow is quite well-behaved when he is indoors but tends to get into fights with other cats when he is outside. We have now managed to get him onto a schedule that keeps him healthy, happy, and less prone to injury by in part keeping him indoors overnight. He’s not always happy about staying in, but it seems to really help his overall quality of life.
At first, instilling the schedule was hard, and to be honest, we all had some commitment issues. I have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with schedules, in that I do like to have one in place for my work life, but at the same time I admit that I really enjoy breaking it! After a while I start to feel trapped by a rigid schedule, even if it involves things I enjoy doing, like composing, and will divert the plan of action for a little while before eventually getting back on track. It’s not so much a lack of discipline—I still get the same things done in the allotted amount of time—as it is the glee, and the occasional creative spark that a dose of spontaneity can bring to a daily routine.
However, the current mix of work, composing deadlines, and other assorted responsibilities have required me to kick in a pretty structured map of the weeks and months ahead (as in, there is not really a lot of room for schedule breakage), and much to my surprise it’s a far more positive experience than I expected. Rather than feeling trapped, I find that I’m accomplishing more things in less time, my focus is better during the times when I’m really working, and I finish my days feeling weirdly satisfied. Another side effect of sticking to this program is that I don’t feel as if I’m working all the time. It’s possible to turn it off now and then, which helps when one is in for a long haul. Apparently there is scientific research that proves this is a really good thing.
Our new friend Longfellow is actually being rather helpful with this regimen, in that he is as reliable as any alarm clock (especially when it comes to his mealtimes), and my efforts to keep him on track are also keeping me on track. Like him, I am now on a fairly disciplined routine that has improved my quality of life, and is helping me to be more productive.
Chalk up another win for the composer-cat continuum!