Posponing an unpleasant activity is certainly not uncommon. We know that it would be good to tackle a matter, but we still don't do it: Why? Well, simply because it's exhausting! And there is still time. This is where the so-called Parkinson's Law[1] applies:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

So we always need as much time as we have available. This can be reassuring information, but when it comes to scientific work, quality inevitably suffers from the oft-followed motto:

"I have a motivation problem until I have a time problem."

The advantage of problems, which the majority has regularly, is that there are usually so some people, who already thought about it and offer solution beginnings.

So Rolf Dobelli [2] recommends in his book "The art of acting clearly" in his chapter on procrastination:

  • Set goals and communicate them to as many as possible and
  • Provide for balance and relaxation in order to be able to muster the energy for conscientious work on the important tasks.

In the end, what counts is not how long we actually sat on a task, but how we use our time, which we took and in which we are also rested enough to deliver the required performance.

What seems interesting to me is the approach of promising a trusted person a certain - seemingly high - amount of money - if the goal is not met.
As long as it is possible to monitor goal compliance without another person, no one else needs to be involved. For those who tend to give up in such matters, it is possible to communicate the goals to another person.

It is not necessary to apply the principle to whole days, but it is possible to set partial goals. For this purpose, you can divide the amount of money as you wish. The only important thing is that the incentive is maintained. A goal diary is then kept for a certain period of time and the respective amount is due for each non-observance.

The "penalty" then consists of something that is already meaningful, but which one did not intend to do anyway, such as buying a new book or something similar. Possible are charitable donations or ethically more sustainable purchase s than we might otherwise make out of convenience (I'm not naming any companies;-)).

An example for a denomination would be e.g. 1 Euro per subgoal. A possible subgoal would be something like: Summarize the 5-page paper X within 30 minutes (completely fictitious!). If the 30 minutes are exceeded, the Euro is due. In a week with 7 not reached subgoals there are 7 Euro on the penalty account and after some time a value is reached which allows a donation or an ethically justifiable order or purchase.
 These are some examples, which can be modified.

An additional approach is elaborated in [3] : Sometimes it can be useful to follow your procrastination tendency (if everything else is settled:-)) to even deal with much more valuable tasks requiring creativity and a high intrinsic motivation.
I wish everyone success in finding their personal anti-procrastination strategy!

[1] Parkinson’s Law, The Economist, 19.11.1955

[2] Dobelli, R.- Die Kunst des klugen Handelns : 52 Irrwege, die Sie besser anderen überlassen München : Hanser, 2012

[3]Lobo, Sascha, and Kathrin Passig. "Dinge geregelt kriegen." Reinbek: Rororo (2009).