I'm among the most disciplined people I know, but when it comes to avoiding procrastination I know one person who's even better than I: my wife. She delays nothing. Even when it seems like she might be, it's only because she's getting a long series of other things done first. She's been gifted (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with an inability to leave any open items floating around in her brain. I'm far more tolerant of open items, so not quite as fast to close them as she. As a result, I sometimes have to rely on specific strategies to complete tasks, where she need only rely on a powerful inner drive to clear her "mental inbox."
When discussing procrastination, of course, we're only talking about tasks we don't want to complete. Tasks we enjoy doing are in fact often hard not to do. (We don't struggle with ourselves to do them because we like doing them, so those tasks aren't the ones for which we need anti-procrastination strategies.) But regarding tasks we don't really want to do, we need to establish a set of rules that we follow automatically—as habits rather than conscious choices (allowing ourselves to choose whether or not to follow a rule requires willpower, which actually turns out to be a far less powerful mental force than the force of habit):
I use these strategies all the time and find they mostly work. When they don't, I ask myself if perhaps I've simply lost my drive. We all have days like that. Sometimes, in fact, I need to allow myself to procrastinate to regain my energy and enthusiasm. Especially when driving myself hard many days or weeks in row, I often need a break. If so, I take it with a promise to myself to return to my important tasks once I'm refreshed. I have an enormous capacity for hard work, but if I don't recognize when I'm getting burned out and take a long enough break to re-energize, I don't just get tired. I get resentful. And that's just not a good place to be. It is, in fact, a major procrastination inducer.
Dr. Lickerman's book The Undefeated Mind will be published in late 2012.