A Stitch in Time – Part 2

Learn to spot small problems before they become big problems.

Last time I wrote about the importance of spotting small issues before they become big issues. In this episode I’m going to ask… how?

Be Vigilant for the Signs of Problems

Most of us tend to tackle problems only when we happen to notice them. The difficulty with this approach is that it is easily to miss something in its early stages, and only discover it when it becomes a major issue. Rather than leaving things to chance, it makes sense to actively look for warning signs and address any issues before they get bigger.

Pick Your Battles

Of course, you don’t want to waste time and effort obsessively checking and re-checking every area of your life, but if you prioritise the most important areas of your life, you can save yourself a whole lot of trouble down the line.
Areas on which you might want to focus include:

  • Your spiritual health
  • Your physical health
  • Your relationships
  • The tools of your trade
  • Your finances
  • Your home
  • Your car

Establish Norms

Unless you know what “normal” looks like, it may be difficult to spot a problem developing. Make it easy to spot potential issues by making a note of the way things should be.

Some suggestions on how to do this:

  • Establish rules. e.g. nothing on the sofa except cushions (or your backside).
  • Set standards. e.g. minimum funds in your bank account.
  • Take photos.
  • Take measurements. e.g. your weight, blood pressure, heart rate, waist line.
  • Make notes.

Develop Monitoring Routines

The most effective way to detect and deal with small problems is to develop routines that will help you spot them and deal with them.

Monitor Your Physical Health

  • Go for regular check-ups with your:
    • Optician
    • Dentist
    • Doctor
  • Listen to your body

Monitor Your Spiritual Health

  • Think about whether your lifestyle aligns with your values
  • Listen to your conscience

Monitor Your Car’s Condition

  • Have your car MOT’d and serviced annually

Monitor Your Home’s Condition

  • Go outside and look at the condition of your roof, gutters etc.

Monitor Your Financial Health

  • Check your bank balance

Undertake Preventative Maintenance

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way to preventing small problems becoming big ones.

Maintain Your Spiritual Health

  • Take time to pray and meditate daily

Maintain Your Car’s Condition

  • Have your car serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendation

Maintain Your Home’s Condition

  • Have your central heating boiler serviced annually

Tackle Problems Quickly

Clearly, it is best to deal with problems when you first notice them, and sometimes you can deal with them as soon as you see them.But let’s be honest: it isn’t always possible. In that case, you need to:
  • make a note of the issues
  • prioritise them
  • decide how you will deal with them
  • decide when you will deal with them

If issues have grown to any size, you may not be able to take them on all at once, but rather to take steps to reduce the problem until it is eliminated.

You might decide to:

Tackle Relationship Debt

Keep “short accounts” with people:

  • Seek forgiveness from those you have wronged
  • Forgive those who have wronged you

Tackle Organizational Debt

  • Repair broken things
  • Clean dirty things
  • Tidy up messy things

Tackle Financial Debt

  • Pay off debts as quickly as possible


You don’t have to let big problems creep up on you. Small actions can prevent big problems. By keeping your eyes open, spotting problems early and doing something about them quickly you can often avert crisis and prevent disaster.


  • Original image U.S. National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commins; modified for use on this site.

A Stitch in Time – Part 1

A Stitch in Time Saves…

Have you noticed how small problems tend to get bigger the longer you don’t deal with them?

A Stitch in Time Saves NineTraditional Proverb

See the Problem

Neglecting a small problem often creates a bigger problem:

  • Leave something on the sofa, soon the sofa is full of clutter.
  • Interest accumulates on a small debt.
  • A neglected friend becomes just a mere acquaintance.
  • A small scratch on your car becomes a rusty mess.
  • A small leak leads to redecoration.
  • A few insects become an infestation.
  • An unkind word can become a feud.
  • A single dandelion becomes a lawn of weeds.
  • A little white lie leads to a whopper.
  • When a small wound become infected, a limb can be lost.
  • A small mole becomes a life-threatening cancer.
  • An occasional indulgence becomes a destructive habit.

Understand the Problem

There are many processes underlying this principle. Here are just a few of them:

  • Agents reproduce after their own kind:
    • Debt creates debt.
    • Weeds and pests reproduce.
    • Hurting people hurt people.
  • Destructive agents exploit small weaknesses.
  • When issuesare neglected, you create a new “normal”:
    • You reinforce poor habits
    • You set an example for others to follow
    • You become familiar with the problem, so you don’t see it any more

Solve the Problem

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.Song of Songs 2:15

To stop a small problem fro becoming a big problem, you need to:

  1. See the the problem when it is small.
  2. Deal with it before it becomes a big problem.

Further Reading