The Opposite of Procrastination

Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions. For example, a person is procrastinating if they have a week to finish an assignment, but they delay getting started until right before the deadline for no good reason.

There are various types of procrastination, which are characterized by different causes and patterns of behavior. However, the following are the key traits that generally characterize procrastination:

  • It involves an unnecessary delay.
  • The delay generally leads to negative outcomes, in terms of factors such as the procrastinator’s performance or emotional wellbeing, and these negative outcomes can generally be predicted in advance. As such, procrastination is considered to be a maladaptive behavior, rather than an adaptive one.
  • The delay is often—but not always—unintentional, meaning that it occurs despite the procrastinator’s intent to do things earlier.

Accordingly, there are three types of behaviors that can be considered the opposite of procrastination:

  • Precrastination. Precrastination involves rushing to work on or complete tasks too early, even when doing so is expected to lead to issues such as reduced efficiency and worse outcomes. As such, precrastination can be considered the opposite of procrastination, since while both behaviors are maladaptive (i.e., generally lead to negative outcomes), procrastination involves doing things too late, whereas precrastination involves doing things too early, so they involve opposite behavioral patterns.
  • Purposeful delay. Purposeful delay is the act of strategically postponing decisions or actions, in a way that is expected to lead to positive outcomes. As such, purposeful delay can be considered the opposite of procrastination, since while both involve a delay, procrastination is maladaptive (i.e., generally leads to negative outcomes) and often unintentional, whereas purposeful delay is adaptive (i.e., generally leads to positive outcomes) and always intentional, so they involve opposite causes and lead to opposite outcomes.
  • Promptness. Promptness is the quality of doing things without delay or at the appropriate time. As such, promptness can be considered to be the opposite of procrastination, since while procrastination involves a delay, promptness generally does not, so they involve opposite behavioral patterns, and these behaviors generally also lead to opposite outcomes, with procrastination generally leading to negative outcomes, and promptness generally leading to positive ones.

In addition, other terms are sometimes used to describe these and similar concepts.

This includes terms that have been informally derived from the term “procrastination”, and most notably antecrastination, which is sometimes used in place of “precrastination”, and anticrastination/concrastination, which are sometimes used in place of “promptness”, though these terms are all rarely used.

This also includes other terms that are sometimes used to refer to the concepts that are considered the opposite of procrastination, or to similar concepts. For example, in the case of “purposeful delay”, this includes terms such as strategic delay, wise delay, and functional delay, while in the case of “promptness”, this includes terms such as timeliness and punctuality.

Furthermore, the distinctions between these terms are sometimes unclear. Most notably, when promptness involves an intentional delay that’s expected to lead to positive outcomes, it can be considered the same as purposeful delay, though both are considered the opposite of procrastination regardless.

Finally, other terms can sometimes be used to describe the opposite of specific types of procrastination. For example, if someone procrastinates by constantly delaying making decisions (i.e., by being indecisive), then decisiveness could be considered the opposite of that. Similarly, if someone procrastinates by being passive or slow to respond to issues, then traits such as proactiveness, readiness, and alacrity could be considered the opposite of that.

In summary, there are three main behaviors that can be considered the opposite of procrastination: precrastination (doing things too early), purposeful delay (delaying things intentionally for good reasons, in a way that’s expected to lead to positive outcomes), and promptness (doing things without delay or at the appropriate time).

Since procrastination can lead to various issues, if you suffer from procrastination yourself then you should learn what causes it and how you can overcome it.