I admit it. I'm a last-minute Christmas shopper. Some of my friends have their shopping under control in October, but I usually need the pressure of the impending deadline in order to inspire my gift-buying creativity.
In fact, with most creative activities I can't even really come up with an idea unless I have a date and time by which the project must be done. So how did I manage to write my dissertation so efficiently? (It took 1 year to write.) Artificial deadlines. I decided what semester I wanted to graduate, found the deadlines for that semester, and projected backward, giving myself deadlines for each chapter. I was a little bit behind schedule most of the way, but that gave me the pressure I needed to get the job done.
I really envy people who have no trouble working ahead and can finish all kinds of undertakings—even with no deadline.