A quote from an article in Inc stood out for me as being a metaphor for much more than the closure of a product line, which was the subject. Jason Fried, co-founder of 37 Signals writes about closing Sortfolio: “Sortfolio may be profitable, but it’s far less profitable than our other products. As a result, it gets far less of our attention. And given the way things are going, it’ll get even less TLC in the future. Sortfolio is standing still. And anything that’s standing still is atrophying”.
David Allen never recommended this (as far as I know) but as well as my to-do list, and my someday-maybe list, I have a ‘things I’m not doing’. It hurts to put ideas to one side that you know you won’t ever have the time or energy to do, or which won’t ever be as important as what you’re working on now. Economists and sociologist tell us that one of the worst habits we have as humans is emphasising ‘sunk cost’. That’s the time and energy and money you’ve spent on something already. You look at a project and think, I’ve spent a month on it, I should follow it through.
Instead, we need to be better at focusing on our priorities. We need to say, ‘I’ve spent a month on it and it’s not working. I’m done with it’. David Allen did recommend a periodic of your priorities and how your to-do’s fit into them. Moving them to a ‘things I’m not doing’ list, is an easier way of removing them from active duty rather than killing them altogether.