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Our Closet Door and the Compounding Effect of Procrastination

Posted on August 12, 2015

For the past few months, Kat and I have been diligently prepping our home to be put up for sale. We’ve been hard at work inside painting walls, touching up trim, and outside ripping out ivy, laying down mulch, planting flowers, and power washing the driveway, sidewalk and the house. Improving our house has taken years, but we’ve made a ton of progress in just this summer alone.

One of the items on our long laundry list was to fix the closet door. This is not just any closet door. It’s the main closet door that everyone sees as they come into our comfy (read: small) home. This closet door has a history. 3 years ago, when we had unlimited time (calculated in comparison to the free time we have now), we took on a project to replace the original door. It had somehow acquired a doggie-door-sized hole. I won’t say if it was caused from playing soccer in the house.

We bought a standard white door from Home Depot. It came with a single hole for the door knob. We thought that it would be an easy project to install the standard door. Wrong. Our standard door did not fit a standard door frame for a house built in 1956. Oh well, we adapted it. We rented an electric wood planer, carried the door outside to the patio and shaved it down a little. Then we carried it back in, and tested if it fit. It took about 20 back and forth trips before it fit snugly in the frame. Sure the door was unevenly shaved thanks to yours truly, but I convinced myself that no one would notice. Then we installed the hinges and the door knob, and voila, we had a brand new closet door.

Looking back, it was one of those DIY projects that proved to be a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It began with the right mix of optimism and naivety, “We can do this. All we need are a door and some tools.” This optimism eventually morphed into immense frustration and impatience, “What did we get ourselves into? Why is this taking so long?” The rollercoaster ride culminated with a sense of accomplishment and relief, “The blood, sweat and wood shavings were all worth it. I’m so happy this is over.”

However, it wasn’t long before our (read: my) shoddy craftsmanship reared its ugly head. Eventually, the screws in the bottom hinge loosened to the point where the door was hanging willy nilly. I promised myself (read: Kat) that I would fix it post haste. Fast forward 3 years, and we had grown to accept the broken door as part of our house much like the creaky hardwood floorboards. We had even worked out an effective workaround to close the door. Lift the door from the doorknob at angle of 45 degrees counter-clockwise while closing to perfectly align the hinge with the hinge mortise.

It only took the self-imposed deadline of putting our house up for sale to motivate me to fix the door. A problem that had existed for years, took a couple plastic anchors, a screw driver and 5 minutes to solve.

Our ordeal with the closet door is a clear example of how procrastination has a compounding effect. That is, a problem will exist orders of magnitude longer than it takes to fix. If we use our adventure with the closet door as an example, the problem festered for 3 years or 1,577,847 minutes. That is 31,5569 times longer than it took me to fix.

Don’t let your problems get to the point of festering. Create a sense of urgency to solve them by setting a deadline. It’s amazing what you can accomplish once you do so.

About

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Hi, I'm Don Pottinger.

I love building things with computers. At 10 years old, I wrote my first program using BASIC. I built my first computer when I was 12 years old. I studied Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. Now, I'm a full-stack software developer and entrepreneur passionate about building rich web and mobile apps. My weapons of choice are Ruby, Javascript, and Objective-C.

I live in Atlanta with my amazing wife and son. For fun, I play too much soccer and follow my favorite soccer clubs, FC Barcelona and Arsenal F.C.

My CV so far

  • Chief Technology Officer at Kevy (2014 - Present)
  • Co-founder and Head of Technical Development of Body Boss Fitness (2010 - Present)
  • Co-founder and Head of Technical Development of Kickdrop (2014)
  • Resident Nerd, Full-stack Developer and Backend Team Manager at Big Nerd Ranch (2012 - 2014)
  • IT and Management Consultant for Accenture and Slalom Consulting (2008 - 2012)
  • Graduate of Georgia Tech with BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2008)

My Recent Projects

Facts About Me

  • I was born in Jamaica and raised in the United States.
  • I speak English, Spanish and Jamaican Patois.
  • I love to travel. So far, I've visited Peru, Argentina, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Canada, Jamaica, Hawaii, Mexico and England.