Setting priorities: What to do, what to do?

Today is turning out to be one of those days when I have about fourteen fairly large-scale projects that I could be working on, all of which are important, but some of which may end up being a waste of time depending on factors beyond my control.


Of course, I never think good work is a waste of time – I always learn something from it – but when I’m pressed with competing demands I want to pick the items that will be most fruitful to work on and let the others go fallow, at least for a while.


By analogy, let me compare today’s workload with planting a garden.  If I want a salad, then I know that I need to plant spinach and broccoli (your salad would probably have something different).  If I want a fruit plate, I need to plant strawberries and grapes.  That’s fine, so long as I’m in control.  I can figure out which seeds to buy, how to prepare the soil, and all of that. 


But today’s situation is such that while I want a fruit plate down the road, I’m waiting to find out from someone else if I can have the fruit plate.  If I can’t have the fruit plate, then I will need to have planted the spinach and broccoli so that I’ll have something to eat in a few months.  I don’t know that I’ll need the salad plate down the road.  But the laws of the universe being what they are, if I don’t plant the spinach and broccoli, I will undoubtedly need them and regret not planting them.  So I have to plant everything and yet not really know if I’ll need everything, which makes it hard to be committed to a plan of action. 


Okay, maybe not the best metaphor I’ve ever come up with.  But you know what I mean*


Actually, a much simpler metaphor would be applying for jobs because a temporary position is coming to an end while waiting to hear if you got a scholarship to graduate school.  You can’t go to graduate school without the scholarship, and since your temp job is ending, you’d be an idiot not to try to find another job in case the whole grad school thing falls through. But you won’t need the job if you get admitted to grad school with the scholarship.  It’s hard to be committed to the job hunt under those circumstances, even though you know it’s in your own best interest to do it.


At any rate, I know I’m not the only one who, when confronted with this type of decision-making, spends three hours on Twitter (or writing blog posts) instead of doing any work whatsoever.


More tomorrow on how I figured out what to do today.



*for my friend Randy, who thinks my verbal tics are highly amusing.