There are some many posts I would like to reply to, that I feel all too familiar with myself, so I decided to write a little intro first.
I have had problems with both starting off and finishing work ever since in started to get serious in school, around the age of 8 or whatever. Like all of you, this has not passed by without consequences. Fortunately I have started to pay attention to the negative patterns and avoid volunteering for the kind of tasks that will never get done. To continue on a (relatively) happy tone, I have recently hit the brick wall in a couple of areas which means my procrastination has been exposed and I have had to pick up the pieces and follow through with real work. It is very relieving that I am almost done shaking these monkies off my back, although I did have to crash and burn first.
I have been close to serious trouble, but fortunately I usually just do that last-minute panic dash to the finish line.
Let me give you a prediction of mine; once the pharmaceutical industry comes up with something to help alleviate procrastination, there will be tests to define your procrastinator pattern and you will have a procrastination diagnosis so you can have medication. It is really amazing how similar we all behave, yet most people think we are lazy (or very skilled but too busy to get stuff done!).
I am a typical "impossible perfectionist" procrastinators - setting goals that are just extreme perfection. I set goals and demands for my work that are unachievable. This sometimes appeals to other people, who are then disappointed in me when I never get started at all. I also undertake many tasks at once, then start on the fun ones and skip the rest because I haven't got the time. Then the fun wears off and I have to find something new. I have had fun with countless study methodologies and time management systems that looked really neat, but it displaces all my time to do real work - I just try out the systems.
The positive thing is that I am learning more about myself and how I make mistakes, and I try to correct them and improve myself. GTD is really a good system for me, and when I have the right determination and will-power it helps me plan my work well. I think the trick is that GTD forces me to break down the assignment into realistic chunks and I lack a natural ability to break down work into subtasks and setting realistic goals. Allens "Natural Planning Model" is great, I have seen so many people and projects work contrary to this logic and fail.
Until someone else invents a diagnosis for procrastination, I think we should start using the term anyway. It is very helpful to have a "procrastination syndrom" to fight, rather than being a person who by nature is slow, lazy and ignorant of other peoples time. If it is just a personality trait, you can't really stop it, can you? Externalizing the problem and fighting it is possible in my experience. I'm looking forward to learning more about my procrastination and correcting it together with the rest of you guys.