Yodels were a favorite treat as a child. And I ate them reverently, almost ritualistically. First, I peeled off the outer layer of chocolate trying to keep the chocolate in one piece. Then I unrolled the cake to get easy access to the white frosting. Once the confection was adequately dismantled, I began the process of consuming it. I scraped off the cream and ate that first. Next, I ate the now unrolled cake. The chocolate frost was saved for last. My yodel eating methods persevered throughout my growing up years. They were the topic of a high school English class presentation.
Today, I mimic this ritual with a piece of frosted cake, no matter the flavor or shape. I eat the cake first and the frosting is savored at the end.
I use this same basic philosophy when prioritizing tasks or projects for work. Though there are now a few tweaks that have evolved with age.
When I have multiple competing tasks to accomplish, I save the best for last.
I am a list creator. I make multiple lists every day. When overwhelmed by competing project deadlines, I inevitably start with a list. Using a numbering system, I order the projects in reverse order, assuming similar degrees of priority and due dates. The numbers are first assigned to projects or tasks that are my least favorite and I work my way up with my number scheme to my favorite, saving that one for last.
My working theory is that when I am a fatigued, I am able to rally enough energy, cognitive power, creative thought, and motivation to focus on a task or project that I enjoy (e.g., writing my blog) more than one that I have to do just to get it done (e.g., creating a budget for a paying client).
As a side note, undoubtedly my list’s midpoint is a break – mental health and physical. A walk around the block, a half-hour on my antiquated stationary bike or a short power nap are essential elements on my daily list, especially on a list of competing project deadlines.