My older brother and me

He Beat My Brother with a Spade While I Did My Engineering Job

What underlies procrastination?

Duncan Riach
10 min readSep 5, 2021


I’ve struggled with procrastination all my life and now my 18-year-old son is struggling with it too. I was on the phone with him for five hours yesterday, loving every second of our time together, but wishing I could help him. I don’t know how to help him.

I have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and I don’t know how to help him. I’m a successful principal engineer at a world-leading technology company, and I don’t know how to help him. I don’t really understand what the problem is. I don’t even know if there is a problem.

Maybe he’s just beating himself up. Maybe he’s just burned out. Maybe what he calls procrastination is just taking a fucking break, being a child, letting himself chill out, taking it easy. After all, he recently finished his A level examinations and he’s about to go to Cambridge to study engineering.

This has gotten me thinking a lot about procrastination, how it shows up in my life, and how I deal with it. The problem is that there are so many possible layers to it. I think it might be related to unintegrated traumas, but it takes time to integrate traumas, so I can’t give him a quick fix for that. I think he would benefit from more therapy, from doing the Wim Hof Method everyday, with its pranayama and deliberate cold exposure, or from more sessions with a coach who utilizes Marin NLP.

I’m supposed to be an expert on this. I recently wrote How I Integrated My Trauma and Kilimanjaro, Ketamine, and Crying partly for him. I remember telling him that everything I write is ultimately for him. I’m writing to him now, hoping that I can guide him, but even I don’t really know how I got here. How can the blind lead the blind?

After he told me on the phone about how he avoids what he’s supposed to do, and after he asked me if it gets better after the hormones of adolescence, I told him about a big struggle I had when he was around three and I was around 31.

My manager at the time seemed to be very early in his career as a leader and still had much to learn about motivating people. Because of having to deal with an urgent and important personal issue, I had gotten a week behind on a project plan. Each week…



Duncan Riach

Top Writer. Self-Revealing. Mental Health. Success. Fulfillment. Flow. MS Engineering/Technology. PhD Psychology.