Friday, May 05, 2017

Hard Stuff

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? 


  1. Sometimes, I'm smart enough to get the "hard stuff" out of the way. At other times, I procrastinate and then when I've finally done it, I say to myself, "I should have done that first."

  2. Anonymous5/05/2017

    It depends. Someone once told me the best way to organise my day was to do a bit of easy then a bit of hard and then a bit of easy again. It generally works but sometimes the hard stuff is time based so you just have to face it head on. Today I'm doing someone I hate - figure work, so I'm doing it first - hopefully I won't throw my pc out of the window.

  3. I try to get the easy stuff out of the way first so that I have more time to spend on the hard stuff. (ummmmm, hard stuff...yes, my mind went THERE!)

  4. I do the hard stuff first, because I'm lazy and once it's done I can take it easy.

  5. I agree it is best to do the hard stuff first but it doesn't feel easy when you are doing it.

  6. This is most sensible advice.
    Putting of the hard part first mars the mood and spoils the work of the other matters.
    Doing the hard stuff first is a great relief, and the rest feels all downhill afterwards.
    Whenever I feel a pang of avoidance I try to 180 and do that thing first.

  7. The blog are the best that is extremely useful to keep.
    I can share the ideas of the future as this is really what I was looking for,
    I am very comfortable and pleased to come here. Thank you very much.