Michael Craig Miller, M.D.

Senior Editor, Mental Health Publishing, Harvard Health Publishing

One way I procrastinate is to read articles on procrastination. There is quite a good, short, helpful one in this week’s issue of Nature.

The authors, who consult to academics in Adelaide, Australia, point out that motivation rarely leads to action. Paradoxically, action leads to motivation.

Their concise article is “Waiting for the motivation fairy.”

(The article does appear to be open to those who do not subscribe to Nature.)


  1. Jael

    Hello Dr. Miller,

    Really great article. I enjoyed reading it.
    I stay motivated and energized when working toward my goals.

    [URL removed by moderator]

  2. Patrick

    I tend to procrastinate as well its something I’m attempting to eliminate from my life.

    If I’m going to procrastinate it may as well be in a productive manner like reading an article.


    Patrick Jones Smith

  3. Patrick

    Great article Dr. Miller. I enjoyed the article thank you very much.


    Patrick Jones Smith

  4. Motivational Speaker Rene Godefroy

    This is very interesting Doctor Miller. I have a point that I cove in my presentation that is called “Fake it until you make it.” It’s exactly what the authors refer to. Motion creates emotions.

    Yes, the notion of faking it until you make it may sound trite. However, it works like magic. I have tried it several times and noticed measurable results. If one fakes excitement for a short time, he or she will feel excited.

    Sometimes we don’t feel like doing something. But the moment we act as if, somehow we find momentum. Simply put, we can improve attitudes and behaviors by acting as if… As Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out, “Do the things you fear and the death of fear is certain.” As you can see, action alone can cure fears.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

  5. Duddy

    Thank you for that link to a wonderful article!

    I’m a counselor and behavior consultant who’s recently figured out how to stop procrastinating on most high-procrastination tasks. It’s as simple as it is counter intuitive; – so much so, that I think we need to get an academic debate going on here.

    The “procrastination free living” strategy is behavior analytic at it’s core. It applies the same evidence-based behavior change principals that are used to cure mild to moderate clinical depression more effectively than medication. (see CBT component analysis and activation-therapy)

    It’s the same motivational harnessing and transference process that “cures” many cases of autism, resulting in social and academic normalization for so many kids.

    Procrastination, apart from it’s life-interfering or life-harming qualities, is defined as avoiding the high-procrastination task, in favor of motivated-activity. In some cases there’s anxiety-based, or sadness based action-paralysis.

    The secret to overcoming procrastination is to transfer motivation for the things we love to do and do every day over to the the things we don’t like doing and avoid. That we, we can actually start to “like” doing what we avoid as much as the activities we love doing and do often.

    In behavior analytic terms, effectively ending procrastination is about the positive reinforcement of successive approximations of a healthy replacement to the high-procrastination behavior.

    If it can “cure” depression and autism, it can “cure” procrastination!

    I look forward to your response,
    – Duddy

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