Procrastination is a basic human impulse, but anxiety about it as a serious problem seems to have emerged in the early modern era. The term itself (derived from a Latin word meaning ‘to put off for tomorrow’) entered the English language in the sixteenth century, and, by the eighteenth, Samuel Johnson was describing it as ‘one of the general weaknesses’ that ‘prevail to a greater or less degree in every mind,’ and lamenting the tendency in himself: ‘I could not forbear to reproach myself for having so long neglected what was unavoidably to be done, and of which every moment’s idleness increased the difficulty.’ And the problem seems to be getting worse all the time. According to Piers Steel, a business professor at the University of Calgary, the percentage of people who admitted to difficulties with procrastination quadrupled between 1978 and 2002. In that light, it’s possible to see procrastination as the quintessential modern problem.