Pet Projects, and Killing Your Darlings
6 min read

Pet Projects, and Killing Your Darlings

Issue #35: Sunk Cost Fallacy, Productivity for the Glory of God, Bob Kauflin on Busyness & Burnout, Protect Your Attention, Take Better Breaks, and more.
Pet Projects, and Killing Your Darlings

Hello stewards!

Got another piping hot edition of the Roundup for you today, but wanted to begin with something a little different than usual.

From time to time, I like to give a behind-the-scenes into my journey of transforming Redeeming Productivity from a hobby into my full-time job.

Today I want to share a difficult decision I recently made and what it taught me about the importance of staying focused on your goals.

Pet Projects, and Killing Your Darlings

Often attributed to William Faulkner, "Kill your darlings" is a common piece of advice you hear from seasoned writers.

The idea is that if you want to produce really good prose, you have to be willing to eliminate the unnecessary stuff. Even if you absolutely loved that sentence, if it doesn't keep the plot moving, cut it.

That expression, however, applies to more than just writing. Anyone pursuing a goal must be willing to kill their darlings.

Whether you're trying to lose weight, grow in holiness, write a novel, or start a business, goals require disciplined focus and the removal of all encumbrances.

The author of Hebrews talks about the necessity of focus in the pursuit of sanctification.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" – Hebrews 12:1

The reason that the running analogy works for holiness is that all know pursuing goals requires single-mindedness. It requires us to be ruthless about what we give our time and attention to.

In both spiritual development and personal productivity, to succeed we have to be willing to kill the darlings that weigh us down.

Be they sinful or benign, darlings are those distractions we love. The trouble is, darlings are much easier to spot in other people than in ourselves. I mean, who hasn't had a boss who has blindly thrown money and man-hours at a pet project that everyone else knew was doomed to fail?

All of us can become fixated on something tangential to our true goal, and be blinded to how our holding onto that thing is actually preventing us from reaching our objective.

My Pet Project

I recently realized that when it came to Redeeming Productivity the darling I needed to kill was the video version of my podcast.

The reasons?

  1. Nobody watches it
  2. It takes a massive amount of my time to produce it each week
  3. And it's plainly not helping me reach my goals.

I mean look at these numbers:

Untitled
Of those 128 views on my latest podcast video, more than half didn't make it past the first 30 seconds!

And this isn't a "give it time" situation. I've been making these videos weekly for over a year.

I'm not complaining. It's mega boring to watch a dude staring at the camera and talk to you for 30 minutes (even a guy as charming as myself 😄). I know that. I've always known that. None of this is a surprise to me. I've known for a long time this isn't working. Yet, I have persisted in making these videos.

Even though stopping these videos is such an obvious decision on paper, I have hemmed and hawed over this literally for months.

But why?

Why We Let the Darlings Live

Now that I've finally made the decision to stop doing a video version of the show, I've gained some objectivity on the matter.

At the end of the day, I think my persistence with doing the video podcast despite the time commitment and lack of results comes down to two things:

  1. I really enjoyed making the videos
  2. The Sunk Cost Fallacy

I liked making the videos. It was fun. And it felt productive to spend all that time editing the videos. But by making these podcast videos that no one was watching I've been spending time I could have been investing into things like writing articles or books, this newsletter, other YouTube videos, or our Redeeming Productivity Academy community—things that actually are serving people and pushing me closer to my goals.

This is what happens when you transition a hobby into a business. What might be fun as a hobby can destroy a business. Because the difference between a hobby and a business is that hobbies don't require accounting.

Sunk Cost Fallacy. The other reason I kept it up so long is I felt like I'd put too much time into it to quit. I had to keep going or admit that time had been wasted.

Here's how Decision Lab defines Sunk Cost Fallacy:

"The Sunk Cost Fallacy describes our tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort, or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits."

It's hard to admit that something you've invested in isn't working. But at the end of the day, the price of keeping it up is the cost of focus. And that's a price I'm unwilling to keep paying. I only have so much time in the week, and I have to double down on what's working and cut the things that aren't.

I have to kill my darlings.

So, for the foreseeable future, you won't be seeing my beautiful face yapping at you on the podcast. You'll just have to listen instead.

I do plan to keep making other kinds of YouTube videos, and hopefully this decision helps free me up to do more of that!

What About You?

  • What's your darling you need to kill? What's the thing you are relentlessly doing week after week that's just tangential enough to your goal to justify but deep down you know isn't working?
  • What opportunities are you giving up by continuing to give your time, energy, and focus to that thing?

✨ Redeeming Productivity

The Podcast Returns!

This coming Monday the Redeeming Productivity podcast will be returning for season 3.

Make sure you're subscribed so you don't miss an episode!

Get Your Morning Routine in Order

If your goal is to become more productive, the best place to start is by assessing your morning routine. I created POWER Mornings to help Christians get a handle on creating a Christ-honoring plan for beginning the day.

🧑‍💻The Roundup

Productivity for the Glory of God (5 mins)

Excellent insights on work and calling, including some great quotes from John Calvin, Abraham Kuyper, and some other rando whose name is not worthy of being set alongside those two.

"Adding more Bible classes meant more Bible study, class preparation, and grading. I needed to squeeze more productivity out of my life, but I had a problem: disorganization. I could no longer afford to simply 'keep my head above water.' I realized that I needed to attack life head-on, rather than allow it to hit me."

(Official TheoBro)

Busyness and Burnout (29 mins)

Appreciated this conversation between Bob Kauflin and David Zimmer. They talk about how busyness and a desire to be productive can wreak havoc in the lives of worship leaders. The principles apply broadly to any believer.

(Sound Plus Doctrine / Sovereign Grace Music)

A Pastor Embraces Slowness (1 min)

Recently, I heard Cal Newport say that the people who contact him most about his books Deep Work and Digital Minimalism are pastors. Here's one such account.

"Following an adage she first heard in seminary, she scheduled only two-thirds of her available work hours, leaving time free to handle pastoral emergencies, and enabling, more generally, margin surrounding her daily activities."

(Cal Newport)

Protect Your Attention Like It's Your Most Valuable Resource (Because It Is) (3 mins)

"You can say all about what matters to you, but until you allocate your resources to align with it, nothing will happen."

(Dean Yeong)

Research Reveals How to Take a Better Break (6 mins)

We all know it's important to take breaks from our work, but it's also important what you do during your breaks.

"In order to resist the onset of boredom and self-interruption at work, Gazzaley and Rosen suggest we avoid our smartphones and instead take breaks that restore the part of the brain we use to keep focused on our goals."

(Nir Eyal and Chelsea Robertson)

⌛️That’s All for this Week

I love meeting readers! Hit reply to send me a message.

I'll see you next week.

– Reagan