Be Patient and Apply the Blue Tape, My Son

Snapchat has become my social media platform (@BrettCohrs if you want to connect).

I follow a fellow over there named Ramon. He’s a flooring contractor. Recently, he took us with him (via his phone) to one of his projects, right before he was going to stain a hardwood floor he was working on.

He walked around two or three huge rooms, showing how he had used that blue painter’s tape to protect the baseboards before staining.  Then he showed the stairs and all the tape at top, bottom, around the stairs so that he could stain the stairs. He must have used like 5 rolls of that blue tape!

He joked, “You gotta be patient to put out so much tape.”

I told him that taping that much would have driven me crazy.

He wrote back (in a very Zen-like manner, I assumed), “You just need a little patience”

And I thought about when I have painted rooms and started taping around moldings and floorboards and how I always get to that point when I throw the tape down the hall and just start painting. Because, you know, I’ll just ‘be careful.’

Lo and behold, painting near the taped parts of the room went a lot quicker than painting near the areas I did not tape. Surprise, surprise!

In addition to speed, I also was a lot more accurate when I painted around the taped area.  If you come to my house and see random dots of color over near the edge of my white ceiling, you’ll know I didn’t tape there.

Fact is, prep work not only makes future work go faster, it also makes it more (though not fully) predictable. It also makes future work delegate-able.  You have a system, you can pass off the job to someone else.  Taping a room would make it easier for me to release someone else to do the painting.

At some point, you’ll have to be patient (or frustrated if you choose to be frustrated when your work takes you longer than you’d like).

You can be patient up front and prep and plan and systematize, and later work more quickly or even delegate the job off to someone else.


Or you can just punt all the prep and hope to muscle or skill your way through whatever task you have in front of you.

How does this apply to living simply in the suburbs? I’d love you to leave a comment and tell me, but here are a couple hints.

You love woodworking, so you get some woodworking magazines or you’re a Pinterest fan and troll Pinterest for cool projects to learn and work on.  You study. You work on your craft.

Maybe it’s golf. You take lessons. You hit the range. You slowly pull that handicap down from 25 to 20 to 15 and so on.

What about your role as a parent? A spouse?

Do you prep or do you wing it? Do you study where to lay down the tape? Do you have any idea what your goals are outside of making sure they’re ‘good kids’ or that you and your spouse ‘get along ok’?

In my humble opinion, we too often don’t work on the stuff that matters the most. We don’t do the front end work that might make the back end work a little easier. We don’t take the time when they’re elementary aged and then somehow think we’ll be able to conjure up good communication with a 14 year old (heck, all the solid elementary school parenting in the world might not even help).

Being intentional. Thinking through what we hope to have as an outcome for any particular project (not to demean parenting or marriage by calling them ‘projects). Planning and prepping and systemetizing where we can (yes… making a system out of weekly chores or date nights or biz planning) are all ways we can lay the tape on the baseboards.

Apply the idea as you will. But be patient and apply the blue tape.

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