The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.


The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining. – John F. Kennedy

As you can imagine, a tiny leak when the roof was there would be a big problem if you were repairing it in a rainstorm.

A tiny leak in the roof  would be a big problem if you were repairing it in a rainstorm.

What does that mean? While this quote is listed as unsourced at WikiQuote (the 9th entry in their “Unsourced” section), it is still widely held that he said something like this. If so, the quote probably goes back to a saying from antiquity, regarding when to fix a roof, and the wisdom (or lack thereof) in waiting until it is raining again before getting busy.

This quote is talking about a leaky roof. Fixing a roof usually requires a portion of the roof to be taken off, a proper repair done, and then have the roof reassembled. Whether it’s an ancient thatched roof, a medieval roof of slate, or a modern roof of tile or shingles, you will get a lot more leaks in a rainstorm while a roof is being fixed than when it’s not.

That is the primary message of the quote, fixing a leak is best done when the weather is good, rather than when it is not. Ideally, you would begin the work of fixing the roof as soon after the leak was found as the weather would support. The first sunny day would be ideal.

This statement is being used to remind us that we should fix what is broken as soon as possible. Waiting for the next rainstorm and trying to fix it then is a little late, as well as ill-advised.

Why is timeliness of action important?  
To me, this quote is about doing things in a timely manner. It’s too easy to say “I’ll get to that later.” The next thing you know it’s raining again. Then you have to suffer through the leaks and the damage they cause, and try to remember once the sun is shining again.

There are lots of things going on in our lives, and many of us live an interrupt-driven life. By that, I mean we run from emergency to emergency, rarely having time to plan for the future. The problem is that some of these emergencies, like a leaky roof, cannot be fixed while they are an emergency, and are often eclipsed once they cease to be an immediate problem.

By dealing with the roof in a timely manner, it’s not an emergency the next time there is rain. Similarly, nearly anything can become an emergency if ignored for a sufficiently long time. The amount of effort required to deal with the issue rarely goes down with time. The point is that if you wait until it’s an emergency, it will take far longer than if you had dealt with it in a timely manner.

Where can I apply this in my life?
I’ve known people who run businesses in both the timely manner and others who run theirs in the emergency manner. Guess which ones are more stressed and get less useful work done? The same, unfortunately, goes for people and the running of their lives.

Those who wait for something to become an emergency before dealing with it often find themselves buried in these tasks. However, they would have taken but the smallest fraction of time, effort, and cost if they had been addressed in a timely manner.

In this manner, those who complain that they never have time to do it right the first time always seem to find the time to do it a second or even third time. That makes no sense to me, at least not now. How about you, do you lack the time to take care of the issues while they’re still small, or are you too busy?

Think back to school. When the end of a grading period approached, there were lots of projects, papers, and studying to do. Those who were timely in their work, finished some of the work weeks ago, and were just putting the finishing touches on the rest of what they had left to do.

Others, who were waiting for emergencies to emerge, wasted a great deal of time in the weeks leading up to the end, and then found themselves going crazy trying to get everything done before the deadline. My son is learning this lesson the hard way, as did his father before him.  8′(

Grab some paper and make a list of all the emergencies in your life. What absolutely has to be done right this moment, or the world will end (metaphorically, of course)? Now take a moment and remember what these problems looked like when they first came to your attention.

Take a few seconds to estimate how much time, effort, money, or other resources it would have taken to deal with it when it was small, before it was an emergency. Doesn’t that look like a bargain compared to what you’re facing now?

Think for a few moments, and start writing down all the little things in your life you think might turn into emergencies down the road, if left unattended. Include what you think it would take to deal with them now, and what it would take to deal with them after they become emergencies.

No one can guarantee you a smooth road. But it’s easy to make the road rougher than is necessary. Just wait for the little problems to grow large. I believe it is far better to take care of them in a timely manner. Do you agree?

From: Twitter, @iheartquotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn110220.html
Photo by Ctd 2005

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in action, common sense, habits, procrastination, time, work and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.

  1. SK says:

    This is a Brilliant Explanation. This will help to stop doing things in HARD ways.

    • philosiblog says:

      It will help those who will listen. This saying, and ones like it, go back for decades, centuries, and perhaps even longer. Some people still chose to do it the hard way, by choice, or by failing to make a choice.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts.

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