Is there enough time to go back and do it over?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jimmy Smith
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Safety Office
In today's fast-paced world we all feel pressure related to time. At any one time we are all tackling projects, tasks and other obligations in both our professional and personal lives that place demands on the precious hours and minutes in our 24-hour day. Add in the time we want to spend with family, friends and personal interests and very quickly every minute of the day plus some is spoken for. We employ a number of strategies to manage these obligations such as prioritization, delegation or simply ignoring the requirement to make time elsewhere in our lives. But, what if we could give ourselves another strategy to reclaim some of our precious time?

Jack Bergman is credited on the website, Quotationsbook, with the quote "There's never enough time to do it right, but there's always enough time to do it over." I find this quote rings true in so many aspects of my life. 

It seems counterproductive not to shave time when challenged by a timeline or lengthy project, more often than not, it pays big dividends to do it right the first time. The best lessons in life are learned through trial and error. Let's take a look at a couple of situations from my life where I wish I had applied Jack Bergman's quote.

As a middle school student, I remember working on my science fair project. I picked out an experiment, formulated a hypothesis and then tested it over a couple of weeks. Once the science part of the project was complete, I put together the display board with my results. 

Being proud of what I had accomplished, I asked my mother what she thought about it. She was supportive of the effort I had put into the project and results I had achieved. However, she pointed out the title and subtitles on the display board were unkempt and not characteristic of the hard work I had put into the project. She was right. I hadn't taken the time to properly line up the title and subtitles because I was tired of working on my project and cut that corner in the interest of saving time. I ended up reallocating time from the remainder of my weekend and probably some sleep to fix the display. It would have been better to have done it right the first time! 

As a DIY husband and dad I was planting flowers in the flowerbeds around our house. I had just gone to the local hardware store and purchased the flowers and mulch to add the Martha Stewart touch to the outside of my home. I started digging in the beds and realized they were full of sandy soil that might not support my plants. I looked at my watch -- it was nearing sunset -- and realized I could stop and purchase some potting soil to help the plants survive or I could plant the flowers now and hope they flourished. I chose the latter and it cost me both time and money. A week and a half later I was back at my local hardware store purchasing replacement flowers along with potting soil and spending another afternoon planting the same flowerbed. It would have been better to have done it right the first time! 

It is always tempting to save time by cutting a few corners, but cutting corners often results in repetition of the task and a net loss of time. We have all made these same errors I've previously described, but it wasn't until I heard the quote by Jack Bergman and started applying it in my life that I felt like I quit spinning my wheels. 

I challenge you next time you feel rushed to ask yourself "Why is there never enough time to do it right, but there's always enough time to do it over." Maybe you won't find yourself experiencing déjà vu.