My Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus doesn’t list an antonym for “procrastination,” but according to Roget’s Super Thesaurus, the opposite is “get cracking.” I like it – not procrastination – but Roget’s choice of opposites.

It would not be news to anyone who was ever my student that I don’t like procrastination. I might give a short assignment for the next class period, but most assignments got a generous notice. I even had one student who told me the reason she was not able to complete her project was because I assigned it too far ahead of time. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Their claims for a computer breakdown the night before, just as they had started an assignment that they’d had for three weeks, brought my question, “And you waited to start this assignment last night because. . .?” Sympathy on my part was sorely lacking.

Lest you think I held this standard only for my students, papers were graded and returned promptly. Grading old papers was about as appealing as eating a cold hamburger covered with congealed grease. I hate procrastination not just in others, but for myself.  

This has carried over into my writing life. As the experienced writer among some novices, I once helped lead the conference for the coming year. One of the items I emphasized was how to plan so there was no panic at the deadline. I must have approached this rather seriously since one of them asked, “Have you ever missed a deadline?”

I answered, “Well, I had a manuscript due the week that Hurricane Katrina –” Laughter drowned out the rest of my response. That remains my only late manuscript, and it was emailed from the public library before our electrical power was returned.

This week I’ve come to an additional reason to be glad that procrastination is not in my nature. I have a nearly finished project due by the end of January that has required me to dig in the Ezra Jack Keats Archives in the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. Fortunately, I've had more than a week left in the month. If I’ve run into a rabbit I’d like to chase, I’ve gone right down its hole and enjoyed myself. When I’ve looked for a particular spread in a box of paintings for one of his books, as long as I was there, I’ve enjoy the art for the other pages as well.

The old true saying is that procrastination is the thief of time. Conversely, if one “gets cracking,” there’s time to relish the research.