October 16th, 2020

Scope Creep by Stealth - Friday Notes 120

One insidious way that your time and attention gets stolen is scope creep by stealth. It starts with agreeing to a call to talk about something you're interested in. Then they ask for a headshot and bio from you since they'll be publishing the talk. Next they want to have a pre-call, which is likely going to be longer than the call you agreed to. That pre-call is to check the technology and go over talking points so that you're not starting cold.

You do the call, then get many reminder emails to share the content across your social platforms. Maybe you even get an exit survey to see how you feel about the whole situation.

At the end of it the thirty-minute call occupied at least five hours of your brain space. This is time you couldn't do your deep focused work. Time you will never get back, and the return on that call is never measurable. Sometimes they're awesome, sometimes they're duds but you never know which one you're in for.

If you want to keep content coming you have two ways to support it. First, join me on Patreon. Second, take my TickTick course on SkillShare. I also have courses coming on Time Blocking, Things 3, and eCommerce Basics for store owners. It will be a busy final quarter of the year.

Past vs Current You

I'm sure I've said this before, but past Curtis is an asshole. He made agreements to stuff that future Curtis has to fulfill. Future Curtis has no more time. So, maintaining the theme for the last few weeks, here are some rules I work to live by.

1. Past Me is an Ass

Since I acknowledge past me was an asshole that overcommitted my schedule, I refuse to stick to commitments just because past me agreed to them. In the scenario above, I'll send over the bio and headshot but when they let me know about an hour long pre-call I just say no. If the hour long pre-call was in the original agreement I would have said no anyway.

2. I'm allowed to lie

When I say no to the pre-call, I don't have to be super nice and accommodating about it. I feel free to lie. Sure my whole schedule is full...the truth is I nothing on my schedule is immovable, I just don't want to do the pre-call, so I'm unwilling to move my reading time or the time I have scheduled to floss.

Don't feel bound to offer some conciliatory time. You're just being nice and you don't have to be nice.

3. I'm Okay with Missing Things

Okay, but what if the whole call is off because I won't do the pre-call? Eh, 99% of the time it's not a big deal. I would have said no if they asked for 5 hours of my time unpaid, so why would I keep saying yes and falling into sunk cost fallacy. I admit to being very lucky here that I rarely fall for sunk cost fallacy. I don't worry about the time already invested. If I don't want to commit to said thing in the future, I'll drop it.

But People Will Be Mad

Uh, maybe and why on earth do you care?

Is it your spouse or your kids or some friend you'll see weekly for the rest of your life who will hold a grudge? First, drop said friend they are not your friend if they're going to hold a grudge like that. Second, it sounds like a problem for the other people to deal with.

The whole thing with scope creep by stealth is that people know that you're much less likely to say no once you've said yes.

There is an interesting study that asked people to put a small yard sign for the political party they were affiliated with on their lawn. Then a few weeks later researchers came back and asked to put a massive sign on the lawn. If you had said yes to the small sign, you were way more likely to say yes to the big sign. If you didn't say yes to the small sign, you figure the big sign was comically huge and you didn't want it on your lawn.

That's the insidiousness of scope creep by stealth. You agree to something small, and then realize you gave your kids away as you kept upping the ante. Don't fall into this trap. Don't be bound by past you. Feel free to lie. You're not going to miss out on much. Don't worry much if someone gets mad that sounds like their problem.

I Shipped

Monday I showed off two newer graph layouts in Obsidian that made it so much more useful to me. Both of these updates make it much easier to narrow down the content you're looking at.

Wednesday I shipped a quick video on short notice because I was pretty proud of a Shortcut using Back Tap to add ideas to my Zettelkasten system in 1Writer.

Today I'm looking at Reclaimed by Andy Steiger. Reclaimed is a book on Christian Apologetics. Andy makes some good points, but I think he takes the easy "christian" way out with some arguments. Check out the review for my recommendation.