Choose an idea to put away. Don’t look at it again for at least six months. This prompt is particularly useful if you’re struggling with developing an idea; get out of your own way and let time do the work for you by archiving it.
The late Intel chief Andy Grove writes of a simple rule in High Output Management: “All production flows have a basic characteristic: the material becomes more valuable as it moves through the process.” That’s because more time and energy have been spent on the material to make it a final product.
One implication of this idea is the earlier you stop working on something, the fewer resources you waste. For example, if I’m coming up with a pitch, a quick Google search could tell me if someone else has written about the thing I want to write about. If someone has, in exactly the way I wanted to write about it, then I can easily shelve the idea in its current state, as it’s not acceptable to me. If I didn’t come across the prior coverage until later in my process, I’d have to give up the idea after hours spent researching and writing (which has happened before).
Sometimes, a challenging idea may be worth producing. But it takes clear discernment and deliberation to decide if that’s the case. A safer strategy could be to simply shelve the idea, and revisit it again in six months—perhaps time will be your ally and your subconscious mind will conceive of a new way to reframe your idea.
There is no right way to choose an idea to put away, or to pick back up. Just choose!