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We’re only human, and most humans like to put off things until they absolutely have to be done. I asked some heating professionals what they’ve been procrastinating about lately. Here’s a short list of things they think are best left for tomorrow. Or next month. Or forever.

Cleaning the van? A contractor friend said, “Cleaning the van is a thankless job because as soon as I’m done, I have to start all over again. It’s like painting a bridge. There’s no end to it. Whenever I’ve tried to clean my van, I begin with removing stuff I haven’t used for a very long time. I’m hoping this will free up some much-needed space so out it goes. But then I find I need that part on my next call. So I shake my head and put it back into the van, along with a bunch more of the same part because I figure there may be something going on with that particular thing. If I needed it once, I’ll probably need it again very soon. But guess what? As soon as I put it back into the van, I find I never need it again. Until I take it out of the van. It’s crazy.”

That ever happen to you?

You’re nodding, right?

And smiling.

That’s one reason to procrastinate.

That pile of stuff on your desk? We go to the tradeshows, and they give us product literature so we know all about what’s new and what’s old, but still out there. We put that literature in the bag they give us and bring it all back to the office. The phone rings, so we toss the bag filled with product literature on top of the other bags we’ve brought back from other tradeshows over the years. Pretty soon, your desk is looking like your van. The funny thing is you probably know exactly what’s in that pile and you’re able to get at it whenever you need it, which isn’t often, but you never can tell.

So procrastinate.

A plus here is most of the manufacturers stopped printing paper literature in favor of handing us a flash drive with all their product information. We rarely plug those flash drives into our computers because no one has time for that. We just toss them into that bowl over there by the blunt pencils. The plus is should we ever need to download something from the internet, we can erase what’s on the manufacturer’s flash drive and use that for our storage. This saves us a few bucks, but it’s best if you never mention this to the manufacturers.

Your drawers? I’m talking about the ones in your desk. You’ve been meaning to straighten those out for so long, but you’re afraid that when you do, you’re going to find your baby clothes down at the bottom. It’s best to keep putting this task off. Just keep stuffing those draws until they get stuck closed. Problem solved!

Bookwork? “I’m not a fan of doing bookwork,” a contractor friend told me. “Tools are far more fun to have in my hands.” Most of the professionals I talk to feel the same way. They want to be in the field and not behind their piled-high desk. They’ll put off the bookwork and then worry about the lack of cash flow because they put off the bookwork. Which brings us to this truth: If the bills don’t go out, the bucks don’t come in.

If you’re this way and you’re still in business, you’ve probably found someone who can do the bookwork for you while you’re out turning wrenches. That’s a good thing. Bookwork and procrastination don’t belong in the same sentence.

Your annual physical? I once asked a contractor friend who wasn’t looking well if he went for a yearly physical. He told me he felt fine. I mentioned that a lot of the stuff that can slow us down (or kill us) has a way of sneaking up on us. You feel fine and then you don’t.

“I don’t want some doctor telling me something I don’t want to hear,” he said. “I have no time for that. Got too much going on right now.”

“A lot of the bad stuff is preventable if you know about it soon enough,” I said.

“Stop being so negative,” he said. “I don’t want to hear it. And I’d rather not know if something is wrong with me. When your number is up it’s up. That’s it. I have no time for doctors.”

I think about him a lot. He was a good guy.

A will? “My last will and testament is 50 years old,” a heating professional told me. “It instructs the executor to liquidate all my assets and put the funds into a trust to pay for raising my son, who is now 53 years old. How’s that for procrastination?”

Having an up-to-date will is something that many people put off. Who wants to think about dying? But a will is really about living. And here I’m talking about the loved ones at your funeral. They’re going to be grieving you and this is not a good time to have them searching for a lawyer who can figure out what you wanted to do with your estate.

I have a friend who lost his tradesman father a few years after his mother passed. His dad left no will. He did leave money in a number of bank accounts and property in several states, however. The various states took over. It took my friend seven years to get it all straightened out. His lawyer made out okay, though. Very okay.

If you don’t have an up-to-date will, but you do have people you love, please stop procrastinating and just get it done.

New tools? I asked my friends in the trade if they procrastinate about buying new tools. One said, “Are you kidding? That would be like procrastinating on that cold beer that’s calling to you from the fridge after a long day at work.”

Another said, “I only put off buying a new tool if I really can’t afford it at the time. But that’s not always true. I’ve been known to buy tools on speculation. I figure I can use it sometime down the road. I guess that makes me a half-procrastinator.”

Another said, “I think of buying tools as investing in myself. When I put them to good use, the rate of return is far better than any other legal investment I can make. That’s my excuse. And besides, I just like tools!”

And I like that.

Another heating pro told me he buys new tools, “But they somehow all wind up in my son’s truck and then get left down some customer’s basement.”

I’m not sure there’s a cure for that.

That vacation? We vacationed regularly before I retired, and we have no regrets about any of those trips. The daughters, all now grown and married with children, still talk about those sweet trips we made. No regrets at all.

I have always believed that what you don’t spend on vacations you’re going to spend on doctors. And that applies to any age. Vacations are like good tools. They may seem like an expense at first, but they really are an investment.

Don’t procrastinate making sweet memories. Invest in them. You’ll treasure them when you’re old like me.

That’s a promise.


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