Creature of habit

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You’ve learned a lot about me in the last month that I’ve been doing this blog. Now, I’d like to learn some things about you. I’ll start by telling you something else about me.

We all have regular shop habits. Some involve safety procedures, some the music we like to listen to while we work, some what we like to do with scraps, and on and on. I have several. Got to have my Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi, whichever’s on sale that week). Got to have my satellite radio tuned to my favorite station (usually the ’40s or ’50s decades, or maybe one of the jazz stations, or maybe I’ll bring up Radio Margaritaville on my computer and route it to the shop). Got to slap the little magnet sign on the front door that says “In garage shop; can’t hear doorbell.” Those are all harmless shop habits.

I also have a very, very bad shop habit. As I work, I naturally grab one tool or another as needed, just as you do. Each time I do, the routine is exactly the same – I realize the need, stop what I’m doing, go to where the tool is, come back to my work and use the tool. Then the bad habit part: I set the tool down wherever I happen to be. The problem is that in the course of a few hours in the shop, I may do this 20 or 30 times. Nothing is put away; it’s all still setting where I laid it after using it. If I’m working more than, say, four hours at a time I’ll usually need one or more of those tools again, but of course they’re not where they belong since I never put them back and I have to go looking for them. Sure, I have more than one screwdriver, but after a couple hours I’ve managed to use all of them. Ditto my tape measures. Inevitably, everything I do starts to take longer because I’m always looking for stuff. It’s a vicious circle. The longer I work, the more things are not put away, the less I can find.

And that’s not the worst part of this bad habit. The longer this goes on, not only can I not find a particular tool I need at a given moment, but my entire shop becomes steadily more cluttered. Work surfaces disappear; I’m knocking stuff over; things get buried under other things. Harsh language ensues.

When I’m spending the whole day in the shop, I literally have to make myself stop every two hours or so and gather all those things and start putting them away. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to find anything, wouldn’t be able to move, and nothing would get done. Of course, the cycle then starts all over again.

OK, that’s my worst habit. What’s yours?

Till next time,

A.J.

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