When I was 12 my teacher wrote in my report, 'Inclined to procrastinate'.
The next day she asked, 'Do you know what procrastinate means?'
'Did you look it up?'
'I meant to', I said, 'I didn't get around to it.'
There's a simple cure if you are inclined to procrastinate. (I'm indebted to Professor Robert Cialdini for this one. He mentions it in his latest book Pre-suasion.)
Here we go.
Make a start, even a small first step. (How useful is that?)
Here's the bit that matters
Leave the task part way through.
Writing a report? Write for a few minutes, then leave a sentence half-finished.
Most of us can't stand something incomplete. That's why mysteries and even questions are so motivating.
Start small. Nothing ambitious, but a start. Need to weed the garden? Get out the wheelbarrow and put a couple of weeds in it. Leave it there, prominent, in the way.
Why make just a small start?
Knowing that the first step will only take a few minutes helps to erode that feeling that the task is too much of a burden to do right away. If you are swept away by a burst of enthusiasm once you've started, go with the flow.
'But I don't care about incomplete tasks'
Perhaps you have a half-built deck at home, or the monthly report and newsletter you started a week ago are still in draft form and that's not keeping you awake either.
The solution? Just willpower. Set aside the time and make it happen - all of it.
If I come across an easier, less obvious solution I'll let you know right away.
No, really I will.