When I was 12 my teacher wrote in my report, 'Inclined to procrastinate'.

The next day she asked, 'Do you know what procrastinate means?'

'Er...No.'

'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.