As I emphasized a few times before: Wasting time is one of worst enemies of productivity.
Today I want to talk about the “sunk cost fallacy”. This term is often used with financial decisions, but it can be applied to decisions how to spend your time, too.
Long story told short, “sunk costs” are costs which have already been spend and cannot be recovered. Most people regularly take sunk costs into account with their decisions, even if this doesn’t make sense from a rational point of view.
An example: One week ago you bought a nonrefundable ticket for a movie playing tonight. Just now a friend with a good taste in movies tells you the movie isn’t very good. Normally you can rely on his assessment, so if you wouldn’t already have the ticket, you sure wouldn’t go. But now you already have (and paid for!) the ticket. Will you go?
Most people would decide to go anyway, since they wouldn’t want to waste the money they already spend. This is what is called the “sunk cost fallacy”. The thing is that you will throw good money after the bad, because there will be additional costs to get to the cinema and so on.
The rational decision would be to just stay at home. The money for the ticket is already “sunk” and watching a bad movie will not change anything about it. But this is a hard thing to do, because we all have a strong aversions against losses (in this case having paid money for nothing).
But sunk costs can’t only occur as financial costs, sunk costs can also appear in form of spent time.
So you already spent many hours with this book which – after a thrilling start – gets more and more boring!? Chances are high you will finish the book anyway, since the invested time would have been wasted otherwise.
You are stuck in a relationship which turned unloving over time? Maybe you only stick with it because of all the time you already invested…
Take a good look at all the things you spend your time with. If you find any you only carry on for “sunk cost”-reasons: quit them! Instead of finishing a boring book you should start to read an interesting one: