Do Not Put Off Til Tomorrow That Which You Can Do Today

My driveway is in serious need of pressure washing. The need is so serious that my homeowners association has sent me a nasty-gram telling me that if I do not pressure wash the driveway by tomorrow, the association will refer the matter to its attorneys. Yikes.

I have no desire to have to deal with lawyers (or their fees) over a matter as mundane as pressure washing. So why am I typing on my computer when I should be out working on my driveway? Well, I did set aside today and tomorrow for pressure washing. I even bought a new Troy-Bilt pressure washer with a Briggs and Stratton engine so that I could get the driveway looking great. Moreover, I actually went outside this morning and pressure washed for 45 minutes.

Then the pressure washer stopped working. The engine became quiet. The water stopped shooting out of the hose. An eerie calm descended on my front yard. Despite all of my non-mechanically minded efforts, I could not get the pressure washer to work again. It was dead.

I tried to call the technical support at Briggs and Stratton and spent 30 minutes on hold listening to bad music with an occasional voice over letting me know that I would have to wait for more than 10 minutes before my call would be taken. I finally gave up and left a message, which still has not been returned.

Four hours after I started, my driveway still needs to be power washed and I will need to humbly seek the forbearance of my subdivision (which will annoy me since so many of my neighbors have gotten away with worse violations). More importantly, I may now need to hire someone to pressure wash my driveway and that will cost me more than the purchase price of my seemingly worthless pressure washer.

Machines break. I know that, and that is why I am so annoyed with myself. If I had not left my pressure washing to the last minute, this morning’s fiasco would not have been anything more than a bump in the road. Because I left it to the last minute, however, my inability to get my pressure washing completed is going to cost me both time and money because I am going to have to rush to find another way to get my driveway cleaned quickly. If I had made the time a month ago to clean my driveway, I would have had plenty of time to get my pressure washer to work and to complete the job before tomorrow.

How often do we do this in our daily lives? The car does not sound quite right but we don’t bother to take into the shop right away. The seam has started to come undone but we do not fix it right away. Food in our refrigerator should be eaten before it goes past its freshness date, but we choose to eat other things.

Ben Franklin reminded his readers that they should not “put off until tomorrow that which can be done today.” There is wisdom in Ben’s words. It applies to how we take care of our bodies and it applies to how we take care of the things that we own.

Every time we fail to maintain the things that we own, we depreciate them faster than is necessary. If we fail to change the oil in our car when we should, the car will break down faster than it should. If we don’t attend to a small leak in our pipes, bigger leaks will necessarily follow. If we do not force ourselves to be responsible and to take care of the things that we own, our things will breakdown faster and either become useless or harder to maintain.

If we all stop procrastinating, we will have fewer emergency purchases to make when our things break or when we reach deadlines for things to be done. If we all stop procrastinating, we will spend less because our belongings will last longer. It’s as simple as that.

How have you cost yourself by procrastinating? What is the biggest mistake that you have made in putting off a project only to see the project become much more expensive because of the delay? Perhaps you do not procrastinate. How then do you stay organized so that you can get everything done?

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11 Responses to Do Not Put Off Til Tomorrow That Which You Can Do Today

  1. savannahzmomma1 says:

    Late fees, for one! Another was filing for divorce. I went for years without child support. If I’d filed for legal separation, at least, I could have had that. He started paying the moment a third party got involved. Until then, it was up to me to pay all debts and all child support by myself. I was scared to move, and sat in analysis paralysis for 2 years. Cost me a good 7200, I figure. Sometimes, though, you gotta forgive yourself. My motto this last year and a half has been, “Do the scariest thing FIRST.” What a great change in life it has been.

  2. Mike says:

    That is one reason why I will never live in an area that has a homeowners association.

  3. You’re so right. And the funny thing is, we procrastinate about a lot of things an then, when we finally get around to doing them, they don’t take nearly as long as we’d imagined they would.

    The upshot is, just do it.

  4. Ann says:

    Uh, David, have you considered going to somewhere like Home Depot, picking up a gallon or two of industrial strength cleaner and a long handled, rough brush like the type used to clean brick, scrubbing the driveway and just rinsing it off with a hose? LOL

    I’m one of those super annoying people who, if I have a deadline, I schedule backwards so that I have plenty of time to complete a project on time. I also ALWAYS get my oil changed at 3 months and do maintenance on things when it should be done.

    That being said, I had a tough time knuckling under and starting a serious diet and I’m working towards stopping smoking early in 2009. Procrastination? Being heavy and smoking probably haven’t been the best things for me, but, even now, I’m not doing these things out of eleventh hour medical necessity. There are certain things in life where you need to be ready to be effective.

    I moved into my house to start my new life roughly 3 years ago. One of the things that needed to be done was to get a website set up. I did work with 2 designers but they were abysmal failures. It irritated me and I started to gear up to do it myself, but my mom got sick. Light bulb! The time wasn’t right because I was meant to have the time to spend with my mom and then handle her estate and chances are pretty good that I wouldn’t have had the time to do that, if I was wrapped up in my new business.

    I decided to take this year to do things around my house and really think about what I want my business to be like. I let a number of things stew in the back of my mind and realized that I needed to adjust my approach to a number of things, if I want to continue to be happy with what I’m doing. Somehow, I think that this winter, when I find a web designer, everything is going to run smoothly.

    Oh! I’m wrong. There is one thing I procrastinate on — housecleaning! LOL But, then again, I’ve never heard of a case of death by dust bunny either. It’s just not high on my list and the house gets spit polished about 3 times a year, so it doesn’t suffer.

    Procrastination is only a problem when it’s taken to excess and interferes with your life. Maybe I’m just old enough that I’ve learned to recognize when that might happen and take steps to avoid it.

  5. Dr. Sardonic says:

    Pressure-wash your driveway? I’ve never even heard of pressure-washing a driveway. OK, honestly? I’ve never heard of washing a driveway. Isn’t that what rain is for? Who washes their driveway? I can’t imagine even Carson Kressley washing his freaking driveway.

  6. David G. Mitchell says:

    For those of you keeping track, the pressure washing is now done and I am very tired!

  7. Gail says:

    I can’t imagine living anywhere that tells me I have to clean my driveway! Same with places that outlaw clothes lines. Do these home owner associations want the world to think that the folks who live there don’t get dirty or have cars that drip a bit? Oh wait a minute, I bet you also have to put your car in the garage too. It all seems so silly and to threaten to sic lawyers on you is incredibly petty. Find a way to move and find a place that lets you be your frugal self.

  8. Adam says:

    Thomas Jefferson said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today,” not Ben Franklin.

  9. David G. Mitchell says:

    The quote has actually been attribued to many. Even before Ben or Tom, for example, William Cosgrove said: “Defer not till tomorrow to be wise, tomorrow’s sun to thee may never rise.” attributes the following to Ben: “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”

    I am sure Tom may have borrowed from one of his predecessors.

  10. Albert Rogers says:

    Aha! as a devout procrastinator, I note a flaw in Cosgrove’s logic.

    I’ll endorse the idea of acquiring wisdom as early as feasible, but as for doing something tedious today and waking up dead tomorrow, clearly I could have spent my last day better.

  11. Ken says:

    If you bought your pressure washer at place like COSTCO, HOME DEPOT or LOWES, you cound have return the broken one and got yourself a new one to finish your work. PS. I do not work for any of them.

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