by The "Stress Doc"
Mark Gorkin, LICSW

Can you relate to this couplet from one of my "Shrink Raps"?

Deadlines, deadlines all that aggravation Whew...You only have time for procrastination!

When it comes to procrastination, most of us are quick to acknowledge the problem and, of course, are slow to do something about it. What's needed is an inspiring guide to break the chains of putting things off, mental paralysis, missing due dates, diversionary dusting, hiding out in the bathroom, along with CNN and remote control compulsion or AOL addiction. You have been shackled by fear, shame, rigid perfectionism, and overt or covert temper tantrums way too long. So forthwith..."The Sermon on the Mental Block." ("The Sermon from the Mental Ward" may come next week.) Believers...There can be life after deadlines! Here are "The Stress Doc's Seven Guiding Principles and Strategies for "Emancipation Procrastination."

1. You Must Be Tortured and Made to Acknowledge Your Sins. Trust me...I know procrastination. When I was up late with homework or an overdue book report, I had a mother who would thrash me with a quote from the ancient Roman poet, Horace: "To begin is to be half done. Dare to know - start!" (And you wonder why I'm such an expert on stress, guilt, and neurosis.) What's worse, she was right. And now I'd rather do almost anything in a timely manner than let her, or her voice in my head, have the last word. (Just kidding, mom. ;-)

2. Counteract the Micromanager. Try this strategy for disarming an overbearing mother, spouse, colleague or boss. It's a subtle ploy: choose a "designated nagger." Now your antagonist is doing your bidding. Clever, eh?

3. Discover the 80/20 Principle. 80% of our results are achieved by 20% of our activities. The implication is clear: you can drop or ignore 4/5 of what you are doing without feeling guilty.

4. Be Out to Lunch. Liberation from procrastination means recognizing mental exhaustion; what I call having a case of the "brainstrain." Give your mind permission to take the tactical taxi retreat: sit or walk around all day with an "off duty" sign on your head.

5. Pursue Productive Procrastination. In the face of undesignated nagging, the proper retort is: "I beg your pardon. I am on an existential journey. I'm exploring and embracing my 'creative doubt.'" Remember, we often need an "incubation vacation" to hatch a new perspective.

6. Wield a "Stress Doc" Affirmational Aphorism. "A time for waste is not a waste of time." (Now whether reading this column is a time waster...) And finally,

7. Practice The Basic Law of Safe Stress. "Do know your limits and don't limit your 'no's!" Amen.


Mark Gorkin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, speaker, trainer and "Online Psychohumorist," known throughout the web, AOL, and the nation as "The Stress Doc." Specialty areas: organizational change and conflict, team building, creativity and humor. (1616 18th Street, NW #312, Washington, DC 20009-2530, (202) 232-8662).


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