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30 May

They settle it in Fight Club

Datum: 2024-05-30 11:06
Hands wrapped in boxing bandages are clenched together against a dark background.

A week ago, it hap­pened again, the thing that makes my work so enrich­ing — some­one told me about a bril­liant trick!

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

Halfway through one of my open cours­es in Stock­holm, Annette approached me and said:

I have to share some­thing with you. A cou­ple of years ago I had a job where I had to per­form tasks for a hand­ful of man­agers. They all asked me to help them with dif­fer­ent things and all of them felt that their task ought to be most impor­tant and have top pri­or­i­ty. What­ev­er I did, some­one (or a few peo­ple) thought that I should have pri­or­i­tized some­thing else instead. I felt con­stant­ly chased and inad­e­quate — even though I worked so hard to deliv­er every­thing I was asked to do.” 

Sound famil­iar?

I def­i­nite­ly rec­og­nize this sce­nario and predica­ment from many peo­ple I meet and help. There are many of us who have a lot of peo­ple telling them to do a lot of things first — all at the same time.

Let some­one else make the call

Annette con­tin­ued: So, I said to them: You have to set­tle this in Fight Club!’. Fight Club was a spread sheet I had cre­at­ed where I put all of the tasks I was asked to do in a long list. When I was about to do some­thing, I always per­formed the task that was at the top of the list first. I sim­ply let the boss­es bat­tle it out” and decide amongst them­selves in what order the tasks ought to be ranked and prioritized.”

The sto­ry does not tell if they set­tled it by tak­ing it out back”, but wasn’t this a bril­liant solu­tion? When there was not an obvi­ous, and pre­vi­ous­ly agreed upon, cri­te­ria for which task that was to be done first, Annette sim­ply sent the deci­sion up a lev­el” in the hier­ar­chy. This was the right thing to do since it is part of good lead­er­ship to assist employ­ees with pri­or­i­tiz­ing in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. Besides, the tasks came from upstairs” in the first place and it was thus only fair that she got some help rank­ing them by actu­al importance.

Do this

If you can iden­ti­fy with Annette’s sit­u­a­tion, and like me think that her solu­tion was ele­gant, make your own Fight Club.

  1. First choose where to put the club. It could be an excel sheet such as Annette’s, or in anoth­er sys­tem or ser­vice which your employ­ers have access to and where they can orga­nize and pri­or­i­tize amongst the tasks. Or per­haps you share a list in OneNote or a note-on-a-board type of tool such as Trel­lo or Microsoft Planner?
  2. Add all of the tasks onto the list just as you per­ceive it now and in the order you would pri­or­i­tize them if you were to choose what to do first yourself.
  3. Invite any man­agers or col­leagues who give you tasks to do and show or explain to them how this is sup­posed to work.
  4. Try the method for a cou­ple of weeks and then eval­u­ate it. Is there some­thing you can improve so that the process flows smoother?

No longer in the middle

If you cre­ate a Fight Club-solu­tion of some sort, you will no longer feel stuck in the mid­dle when your supe­ri­ors fight for your time. You no longer have to make the con­stant­ly dif­fi­cult deci­sions asso­ci­at­ed with pri­or­i­tiz­ing, but can instead be allowed to con­cen­trate and per­form the tasks you are asked to do with high qual­i­ty (which, at the end of the day, is most important).

What is your way?

Have you come up with a sim­i­lar solu­tion or solved a prob­lem like this in a total­ly dif­fer­ent, but clever, way? Feel free to share with me.

(Do you know why you should­n’t pri­or­i­tize accord­ing to dead­lines?)

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