Ben Gilman

Hungry monkeys

I’d like to share a neat analogy. This analogy frames managing your to-do list as akin to being responsible for a cage of hungry monkeys.

Every morning each of those monkeys needs your attention - you have three options:

Shoot the monkey

By doing the task you shoot the monkey (and get it off your back). Assuming there is no requirement for you to work on the disposal of the monkey corpse this is the easiest way to ensure that task goes away.

Feed the monkey

Finding some fruit to feed a particular monkey equates to doing just enough to keep the task away until tomorrow whether that’s writing a holding email or putting an empty bucket under the leak in the ceiling. Feeding monkeys isn’t the best course of action - monkey food costs money and you have to do it every day - better to shoot the monkey today and get the job done.

Give the monkey away

Maybe you know someone better equipped to feed the monkey, or better qualified to shoot it? If you’re determined to have less monkeys in the cage by tomorrow morning you can always resort to giving them away. Be warned, it might not make you popular - who wants a hungry monkey?

(No animals - primate or otherwise - were harmed in the writing of this blog post)

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