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Mark Gorkin, LICSWMark Gorkin, LICSW
A Blog about reducing Stress in our lives.

Defining and Defeating Procrastination

Mark Gorkin, LCSW ("The Stress Doc") Updated: Sep 12th 2013

Am I the only one who, when facing a tiring project or a difficult report, suddenly has the urge to vacuum the living room? You know what I'm talking about - the "P"-word: Procrastination.

person buried under papers on deskWe put off or ignore doing so many things. Why?

It's not just being tired, lazy, bored, or forgetful. We often procrastinate because we're anxious or angry about something:

Am I up to the task? Or
Why was I chosen for this task? (Said with a "feeling picked on" tone.)

And procrastination is effective because it works: I get caught up in vacuuming; my mind shuts down about the report writing. But the gnawing in the gut eventually returns, until I break the avoidance cycle.

Before providing some tips, consider the words of the ancient Roman poet, Horace: To begin is to be half done. Dare to know - start! (Growing up, my mother would "motivate" me with this quote. And you wonder why I'm such an expert on stress, guilt, and neurosis.)

Here are three "take home" tips for defeating "Procrastination."

1. Courageously sit. For thirty seconds, have the courage to sit with your antsy or angry feelings. Don't just tune out. If still not ready to get down to work, go ahead…distract yourself.

An ex-smoker developed a similar plan. At first, when trying to quit, despite her craving, she waited 5-10 minutes before lighting up. After ten minutes, if still needing that cigarette, she would have one. Over time, she didn't need one!

2. Start small. Personally, as a writer, sometimes I just can't start writing; I'm not ready. But I will make an outline or list bullet points…and then walk away from the keyboard. However, there's a small crack in the overwhelming task or project. Now it's easier to get back in the writer's saddle.

3. Seek support. Finally, if all else fails, find someone who will encourage or bug you - that's right - a "Designated Nagger." Just don't choose your partner or mother-in-law; they're probably doing this already…without much success!

Just remember…Practice Safe Stress!


Video of Blog Post

Richard Fraser, head of FighterFish Productions and I have put together a 2.5 minute video of this blog. This video takes a different approach, away from a talking head, with "natural," serene, and evocative visuals as well as engaging and thought-provoking voiceovers/words that reinforce the concise yet powerful message.


Mark Gorkin, LCSW (

Mark Gorkin, the Stress Doc ™, acclaimed Keynote and Kickoff Speaker, Webinar Presenter, Retreat Leader and Motivational Humorist, is the author of Practice Safe Stress and The Four Faces of Anger. A former Stress & Violence Prevention consultant for the US Postal Service, the Doc leads highly interactive, innovative and inspiring programs for corporations and government agencies, including the US Military, on stress resiliency/burnout prevention through humor, change and conflict management, generational communication, and 3 "R" -- Responsible, Resilient & Risk-Taking -- leadership-partnership team building. Email for his popular free newsletter & info on speaking programs. Check out his popular website -- -- called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). Stress Doc Mantra: "Think out of the box, perform outside the curve (the Bell Curve) and be out-rage-ous!"

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