By David Parker, 

Procrastination, like poverty is relative. But so is completion, delay being the achilles heel of achievement. We all do it in some measure. When I was in active addiction I had a roll of linoleum flooring up against a lounge wall for 12 years not laid down. I was going to do it, never did and gave it away in the end. Leaving a bill close to payment date is another example of deliberate delay. Bit of a buzz that one and easy to do, as living on the edge can still resonate. The word procrastination was never part of my vernacular in using, though once explained I got the gist “oh you mean lazy, putting off and avoiding, doesn’t everyone?”. 

When reality forced me to view a chronic hepatitis B diagnosis in 1981 it took me 14 months later to get one day clean in October 1982. The penny finally dropped and I’m gratefully 38 years clean & sober. Last year I had an unexpected triple heart bypass and suddenly couldn’t work for 6 months. Not part of my plan, but I discovered yet again, there is a difference between unable to do anything, waiting, pacing yourself, delaying activity or thinking lazy. Unfortunately I contracted Covid-19 in March this year, had a tough time and now manage long covid symptoms, without pressure on myself to complete. The body certainly knows the score. It speaks. At first exhaustion aided the art of doing nothing, watching box sets and seeing dust gather, but the 4 month UK national lockdown also created space to stop, review and refresh, aside from spiritual opportunity. 

In order to avoid overwhelm I needed to get the action engine going again in small steps. Overwhelm is the real fear, that ‘eating an elephant’ analogy, so I have learnt to hold a tidy space around me. Years of physical illness in recovery, has placed these simple clean up actions vital to keep on top. But small steps in action was the key in the past and so it is today.

I always make the bed, never leave it dishevelled, it leads to mental inertia, especially in lockdown. Avoid a dishwasher, wash everything by hand. I once asked in a recovery meeting what serenity was, and someone threw me a tea-towel and said “you will find it in a washing up bowl – I’m washing – you’re wiping.” Advice given I still use today.  Like solutions to depression, action is more beneficial than thoughts. That’s the real baseline – actions activate the brain and releases ‘should, would, could guilt’. Just get on with it and use that energy for another task to follow. Don’t wait till it feels uncomfortable.

Stalling is easy to manifest without relapsing on drugs or behaviours. I know many with 10 – 15 – 20 years recovery under belts wandering in the wilderness, stuck like toffee, now the early battles are over. Motivation based on fear worked early on, not so now. Learning to embrace serenity, and to intuitively know what to do are acquired arts. Surrender, seek help, don’t project. Continue to do the work without focussing on outcome. Early stuff is still valuable. How can I assist clients to fix themselves if I don’t practice it myself? Back to basics. Call someone, Get food in, start cooking again, read books that were piling up unread after purchase. The time is NOW.

In the 70’s, as a functioning addict, I was a 16 hour day workaholic designer, client needs came first, always directed by demands and deadlines around me, not aware it led to approval addiction and codependency. That had to change and it did, but operating without a deadline, left to my own devices, was the hardest lesson. I didn’t know how to utilise myself without outside direction. So I eventually changed career and trained to be a Somatic Breathworker in 1988 and still run a practice today, focusing mainly on creative industries, rattling with addictions. 

So if you also hold clients with blocked brains Julia Cameron’s 1992 ‘The Artist’s Way’ still carries weight and musician Sheila Chandra’s recent 2017 book ‘Organising for Creative People’ is pragmatic, inspirational and something to check out for yourself, creating marketing you always meant to do. 

Dr Piers Steel’s website,, and his best-selling book ‘The Procrastination Equation’ is useful to those with delayed attention plus it offers structures for different procrastinating types to amend. I also give Andrea Perry’s book Isn’t It About Time? . . How to stop putting things off . . . to clients as homework. But nothing except the client or yourself can get you reading them. So staying alert with daily gusto for the challenges of next year is the mantra of hope for 2021 but make the bed first.

Keywords; procrastination, recovery, covid

The article was first published in Recovery Plus, the leading UK/European journal on how to recover from addiction, and how to guide people there.

David Parker has over 30 years experience as a Somatic Breathworker, Relationship Recovery Coach & Trainer leading Residential’s, Seminars and Workshops in the UK, Australia, South America, Morocco, Canada, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Austria, Estonia, Spain and Goa in India, focussing on Codependency Recovery & Breathwork. He lives in Central London. More details at