The Book of Good Living: Solve It Once

BGL copySomething I used to do all too often was to have a recurring problem that I feebly failed to solve. And I know I’m not the only one.

“I put my glasses down somewhere and now I can’t find them.”

“Darn it, locked my keys in my car again. Third time this month.”

“I forgot to pay the phone bill again and they cut me off. Again.”

Most of us do it. Each time, we’re forced to deal with the small emergency that results, in a way that costs time, annoyance, and even money.

The worst cost is that you feel like such an idiot each time. (Typically, generous friends are glad to pitch in and point out that you ARE an idiot.)

But there really is an easy way to deal with them. I call it “Solve It Once.”

The Solve It Once strategy is just this:

  1. Figure out some foolproof way to keep from having the thing happen the next time.
  2. Start doing it that way now.
  3. Never do it different.

Keep losing your glasses? Decide on where to put them – say a particular spot on your desk – so that you’ll always be able to find them. Never put them anywhere else.

Lock your keys in your car? Before you lock your car door, visually verify that your keys are either in your hand or in your pocket. Never do it any other way.

Or: Go down to the dealer and have a spare key made. Put it in your purse or billfold or pocket. Never leave the house without it.

Forget to pay the phone bill? The day the bill comes in the mail, sit down and write out a check, slip it into the envelope, slap a stamp on it and put it where you won’t forget to mail it. Never vary from the practice.

Or: Put all received bills in one specific tray on your desk. Pay them ALL each Tuesday, whether due or not. Never change the habit.

The power of Solve It Once is that the solution quickly moves from the conscious part of your brain to the unconscious, making it automatic, painless and easy.

Best of all, you’ll never lose your glasses again. Or lock your keys in your car. Or …

  • The Eh’theist

    I’ve done this over the years for a number of things (work and home) where it would be a big mess to go back and fix a mistake (like leaving the oven on and going away for the weekend or not getting funding requests in well ahead of a deadline while juggling other work) but I never had a name for it. Now that you’ve given me one, I can apply it to more situations. Thanks.