Why does a stitch in time save nine?

A stitch in time saves nine. Even if you do not sew, you will know the meaning of this old saying. It is probably just one of many that you learned as a child. By now, you have heard it so many times, that you no longer remember when you learned it. It is very interesting how so many of our morals and values are guided by little sayings that we learned far back in our early childhood. They tell us we learn 90 percent of our values and morals before we are six years old. Did you ever think you were learning about time management before you were six years old?

In some ways, this saying about time tells us more about planning than all the project management courses we may take later in our lives. It is simple and memorable. It has meaning and relevance because we can all relate to the idea of prevention before a cure is needed. We also all realize that once a problem has occurred it is more difficult to deal with. The time to deal with problems is before they occur. But doing this requires good timing and planning ahead for emergencies and contingencies. If you were practicing this little homily when you were six years old, you were doing contingency planning and you probably could not even spell the word contingency.

The question is “Do we still practice it?” Is it always good advice? Are there exceptions to this pithy piece of wisdom? If you were ever in the Boy Scouts, you would be familiar with the motto “Be prepared.” But how can you be prepared for all possible emergencies? How can you be prepared if you do not take the time or have the time to think ahead? It is not always easy to “Be prepared.” One secret is not to wait until the last minute to plan. Start a list of what you will need long before you will need it. You will be surprised at how the list will grow. I can guarantee you that my students who wait until the last minute to do their assignments or papers are always the ones who do the poorest job or have the most excuses why they could not get the paper in on time. “The snow came, my computer crashed, the baby was delivered, the dog ran away, and I was sick.” These things happen to each of us every day. But if they happen on the day the project or work is due, you now have a problem.

Do you wait until the last minute or do you think ahead about what you need? Are you chronically dealing with emergencies? Do you plan ahead or wait until the deadline draws near? Where would a stitch in your life save you nine today?

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