Blogging 101 tells us to write a catchy title. Let your fertile imagination run wild on the hard stuff. Now I am not talking about sex, or booze, or drugs, or even rock and roll. I am thinking about the unpleasant work.
I am planning a major national conference. I spend about 25% of my time each year producing the conference. I do it because I enjoy doing it, and to get even with some folks - but that is another story. Most of it is fun stuff, not necessarily easy, but pleasant. But there is one aspect of it that I dread. We do an open call for workshop proposals. After we have sorted out all of the proposals, and filled every available room in the meeting venue, for every available minute of the days, we have proposals that don't fit. Proposals that we have to turn down. And that duty falls to me. It is the nasty part of producing the conference. I am in my forth year of being responsible for this project. I have always put off sending the dreaded "sorry" messages until last. I hate sending them, people hate receiving them. I don't know if it is harder when the proposals are really good, or really bad; but the cuts have to be made. I try to be kind encouraging and supportive. It is the hardest part of the planning process.
This year I decided to do it differently. Once the cut was made, and everything that fit on the agenda was on the agenda, I sent the rejection emails first. It didn't make writing and sending them any easier, but the hard stuff is out of the way. The rest of the process is sending messages that make someone's day. The kind of messages I enjoy receiving and frankly are more fun to send. Because of schedule issues (a Conference in Boston were someone sent me the yes email - actually I sent me the yes email I was on the planning committee and selected myself to speak) the yes emails are going to go out 10 days after the "sorry" emails. I bumped into one of the people who had submitted a proposal, and told him, if you have not received a rejection, you made the agenda, I will get the confirmation emails out in a few days.
A simple message, do the hard stuff first. Get the thing you least want to do out of the way, then move on with the fun parts of the job.
Do you do the hard stuff first, or last?