Just In Time vs. Just In Case

I don’t normally read O Magazine, but while I was stuck waiting for a doctor recently my only options for reading material were O Magazine or the emergency exit procedures posted on the door, so I opted for the magazine. The issue contained a very interesting article about how your outlook can affect your life.

The idea comes from different models of car making – one model, called Just In Time, operates without a lot of stockpiling, on the theory that you can be more efficient if you just buy components as you need them. The other model, called Just In Case, stockpiles all the parts that might be needed in the future, regardless of if they are needed at the moment.

If you’re interested in how this idea can be applied to life, you can read the article, but the part that stuck out to me was that the author mentioned people who start applying Just In Time thinking in their business lives often lost weight. It occurred to me that maybe I’ve been inadvertently doing that. My approach to pregnancy and nursing has been that I’ll just eat when I’m hungry. Interestingly, I find I don’t overeat much now, because I’m not worried about being hungry later. If I’m hungry, I’ll just eat then. I don’t think of food or treats as scarce anymore so I don’t stockpile them on my hips.

Another analogy is Cadbury Creme Eggs. In the past, you could only find this candy at Easter. It’s one of my favorites, so when I would see Cadbury Eggs at Easter on sale three for a dollar, I’d get six because I didn’t know when I’d see them again. Nowadays you can find Cadbury Eggs any time under different guises – Cadbury Christmas Eggs, Cadbury Halloween Eggs, Cadbury Secretary’s Day Eggs (just kidding!) so I no longer buy them very often. If I want one, I buy one, but if I don’t want one, I can pass them by knowing they will be around whenever.

Sometimes it’s smart to stockpile – if apples are on sale, it’s wise to buy them and can or freeze applesauce or whatnot, and if you see shorts that will fit your kid next summer on sale for a dollar, it’s smart to buy them now instead of waiting until spring when you’ll spend $14.99 for the same shorts. That said, there’s a line somewhere between being prudent and hoarding. It’s probably a line that varies from family to family, but it’s worth considering carefully.

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