Jason Fried

July 22, 2022

Binaries over priorities

Low, medium, high.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Must have, should have, could have, don't need.

These are various forms of priorities. People seem to love them.

I've always hated them. Especially when it comes to product development.

When it comes to choosing what to do, it's always binary for me.

Yes or no.

Now or not now.

Do or don’t.

What about maybe? Maybe is no (for now).

What about some grey area between now or later? Anything other than now rounds down to later. And low = no.

Being binary about what you choose to do brings clarity to what needs to be done.

You can always flip the bit between yes or no, or now or not now, but there's no middle ground. You're always free to reconsider what to do next once the yes/now plate is cleared. Or if you move something out of now, into not now, and free up a spot for something else.

Be definitive, know what you're getting yourself into, control scope by deciding yes or no. Maybe is a scope expander, a deadline wrecker, and an appeaser that ends up being a displeaser in the end.


About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.