There's no shortage of procrastination cures out there, but few of them come with the sort of detailed instructions that make them easy to put into practice. Be kind to yourself, suggest psychologists, for instance. Which sounds nice, but if that were simple to do, most of the nation's therapists would be out of business.

Try breaking the task down into itty-bitty, totally non-threatening action steps, says another common piece of advice. That also makes a ton of sense, but we all know the human mind is hard to control. You can tell yourself you're only going to write 200 words to get started on that book project, but your brain often does an end run around your intentions, paralyzing you with visions of savage critics and blown deadlines nonetheless. Suddenly, you're looking at cat pictures yet again.

Is there any foolproof way to corral your guilt, perfectionism, and fear of failure and just get on with pursuing your dreams? Yes, responds founder and leadership coach Tony Stubblebine, and it's both dead simple and super quick. All you need to do is strengthen your focus, and all you need to do that is this super simple meditation. Here it is, in his own words:

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Start counting your breath. Shoot to count 50 breaths. That's 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Your mind is going to wander. When it does, make a mental note of what you caught yourself thinking about. This is important: Make that note as a complete and grammatically correct sentence that begins, "I am aware that {fill in the blank}." [E.g., "I am aware that I'm thinking about what to eat for lunch" or "I am aware that I'm drafting an email responding to a complaint."]
  4. When you are done noting the distracting thought, return to counting your breath at the place where you left off.

How could something so utterly straightforward be effective? Stubblebine explains that many of us are controlled by subconscious thoughts and worries. This meditation, by forcing us to articulate them in proper English, surfaces them, so they either lose their power (if they're silly) or can be confronted (if they're substantive).

"Having awoken your rational brain, you have the opportunity to bring your focus back to what you rationally want to be focusing on. In meditation, that's your breath. In work, that's your current task," he writes on Better Humans. Or in other words, you train your focus in meditation so that you can avoid paralysis (and kitten pictures) when you're back at your desk.

And before you go dismissing this post out of hand, thinking that meditation has to be difficult to be effective, bear in mind that many other experts stress just how little time and effort is needed for the practice to start making a difference in your life. Sure, more commitment will pay even higher dividends, but if you're just looking to break through whatever emotional barrier is keeping you from tackling your to-do list, something this simple really can work.

Give this meditation a try and let us know if you notice any benefits in the comments.