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Imagine every task you had on your to do list, cost $5 per month. This would fundamentally change how you viewed them.

Working on 10 tasks 10% each month would still mean you’re paying $5 per month for all of them for the whole time for 10 months until they’re all complete.

However if you work on just one task and complete it per month, your costs drop $5/month, each month for 10 months. Which means your total costs go down at a minimum of $5 every month. And anyone in business knows it would probably go down much more than $5 every month because of other compound and hidden costs.

So in the same way, completing one task at a time would allow you to stop “paying” for the task each month. This would compound each month you complete a task, until you’re paying $0 per month (assuming you don’t add any more tasks).

In the same way, even though we may not be paying $?/month for an unfinished task, as Sebastian Marshall and many others have pointed out, we are paying for it. Either cognitively, or practically in unfinished client work etc.

I put together a simple spreadsheet showing the differences between these two methods of thinking, and how expensive this gets over time. You can check it out below.