Of course, graduation day doesn't signal freedom from the hooks of procrastination. Most adults still live and work in what Steel terms "motivationally toxic" environments. And, he adds, that toxicity has been rising steadily with the tide of technology: New communications tools put us in touch with the office as well as with the latest sports scores. New game systems come along, demanding our attention with their persistent and compelling presence. Various e-mail accounts beckon us like the mythical Sirens, using an electronic ping instead of a song to lure us onto the ever-waiting rocky shore of wasted time.

The last big-time zap hit when the Internet went high speed and the BlackBerry became a communications necessity. It's comparable to someone on a diet having a magic spoon of ice cream always floating around his or her face, says the procrastination guru.

"You're working in the same environment," he says. "At the flip of your wrist, there's YouTube, chat rooms, jokes, humor - whatever's your poison, it's all out there. It's all available. That's not a good idea."

Steel's law: "We procrastinate when temptations become more easily available."

An industrial psychologist, Steel says you can also reduce the condition to a simple formula. To figure the Utility (U), which Steel describes as preference for a course of action for accomplishing a task, take your Expectancy (E), which refers to the odds or chances of an outcome occurring, and multiply it by Value (V), which refers to how rewarding that outcome is. Your denominator, Gamma (G), refers to the subject's sensitivity to delay. The larger G is, the greater the sensitivity. Gamma is multiplied by Delay (D), which indicates how long, on average, one must wait to receive the payout.

So, U = (E x V) / (G x D).