Get Things Done by Closing a Few Doors

Although choice is generally seen as a positive thing, the New York Times examines how and why closing a few doors can help you take major steps toward moving forward with projects and getting things done. The article begins with a look at a third century B.C. Chinese general named Xiang Yu, who burned his troops' ships and destroyed much of their means of survival on arriving in enemy territory.

He explained this was to focus them on moving forward — a motivational speech that was not appreciated by many of the soldiers watching their retreat option go up in flames. But General Xiang Yu would be vindicated, both on the battlefield and in the annals of social science research.

According to researchers at MIT, "closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss"—even when that means keeping that door open is ultimately to your detriment. By allowing doors to close, your focus can more keenly home in on the tasks at hand and improve your focus and drive toward achieving those tasks. If you're a consummate ball-juggler, the article is a must-read. Once you do, let's hear your thoughts on options for getting things done in the comments.


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