The core of my work is the idea that procrastination, blocks, and other forms of underproductivity are symptoms of disempowerment. Disempowerment means you’re not missing anything you need to be productive: you’re just separated from, or have lost access to, that which you have–i.e., your strengths, skills, talents and energy. (Laziness, lack of discipline, lack of commitment, and other supposed deficiencies are all symptoms of the disempowerment, not causes, so please don’t focus on them.) All my work is devoted to helping people locate and remedy the disempowering forces in their work and life so that they can reclaim their joyful productivity.
My other major contribution has been to characterize perfectionism as a complex phenomenon consisting of (to date) eighteen symptoms, some of which are listed here.
Finally, I’ve been able to design solutions to both procrastination and perfectionism that are uniquely targeted and effective. Please visit the Coaching and Workshops sections of this Website to see how I can help you or your team get more productive.
I’m author of Productivity is Power: 5 Liberating Practices for College Students, The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer’s Block, and The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way. I help people increase their productivity in writing and other areas, and have taught productivity and time-management classes at top writing, business, educational, arts, and community organizations. For my testimonials and a list of places I’ve taught, click here. And see my core syllabus here.
My articles have appeared in Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Fortune, Future Buzz, Time Management Ninja, Tomorrow’s Professor, Authors Helping Authors, The Thesis Whisperer, and numerous other publications; and I’ve been cited in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company, and elsewhere. I am also a former blogger for Balloon-Juice.com, a leading political blog.
I currently hold an appointment as an Academic Productivity Projects Specialist at Kalamazoo College, where I give workshops and provide individual consultation to students, faculty, and staff.
During a prior career as a technology journalist and consultant, my articles appeared in Wired, Working Woman, Inc. Technology, and elsewhere; I was also interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. I’ve also appeared as a guest on CBS-TV News, WBAI, WBUR and other broadcasts.
From 2001 – 2012 I worked as a business coach and microlender at two nonprofit agencies in Boston, roles in which I helped hundreds of people from all backgrounds start and grow businesses in fields including art, technology, personal services, professional services, manufacturing, distribution, and retail. It was in the course of this work that I became acutely aware of the forces that hold so many talented, energetic, ambitious, and visionary people back, and it was this awareness that catalyzed my current mission.
I’m a vegan, free software advocate, and lover of life, dogs, and social justice in all its forms. I’m also a former foster mom of four teenage Sudanese refugees (a.k.a., “Lost Boys”), now all adult and living independently. And I’m a living kidney donor. If you’re a current or prospective vegan, free software advocate, foster parent, or kidney donor, email me and I will support you however I can.
When I was a kid, I mainly wanted to do two things: write and help. And I find that, as an adult, the more time I devote to these activities the happier I am. I’m a classic “late bloomer” who didn’t start coming into my own, professionally or personally, until I was well into my forties, and so I understand first-hand the despair that comes from feeling like you’re not living up to your potential. But I now know what I didn’t know then: that blocks are often easily overcome once you stop blaming yourself for being “lazy” or “undisciplined” and start looking for the real roots of the problem. And so, my main message to others is often, “relax, it’s gonna be fine.”
I believe deeply in the power of perseverance, the amazing possibilities of reinvention, and the benefits of living consciously. Life can be difficult, but it is always deeply fascinating.
I was born in the Bronx, spent time in Ithaca, NY, and Boston, MA, and now live in Kalamazoo, MI. My partner, Jan Tobochnik, is a physics professor at wonderful Kalamazoo College.
I hope you enjoy your time on this site, and invite your comments and questions.