One piece of advice that I received from Hyrum Smith's works:
Always leave 30% of your day for "the unplanned."
This includes adding on 30% to the amount of time you THINK a task will take....
Also - I have found that I get more done by getting in one hour earlier than the rest of my co-workers (on average). This puts you in the "Proactive Mode" so that by the time they get in, they are "reacting" to the tasks & agendas for them that you have already set in motion.
I'm going to assume that since you are a subscriber to this Board you know the essentials of GtD Principles, and particularly, Processing. If you are planning out your day and things come up that interfere with your plan, it is possible that you are overplanning, because the things that come up can't be anticipated. It is also possible that planning doesn't work well when you have so many interruptions that you don't have the ability to ignore.
DA discusses the nature of work in pages 196 and 198. Basically, he stresses that if the system is set up properly you can make instant decisions and feel comfortable that the things you are deferring are in the hopper and won't get lost. I think that this is a really big everyday battle and, unfortunately, this important topic seems to be one of the more difficult ideas to internalize. There doesn't seem to be much discussion about it on this Board. Perhaps that section of the book will help you to feel more comfortable about the decisions that you (have to) make.
Also, you might try to "upward delegate" and ask your boss to decide which of your pressing tasks should be done first. (S)he can hardly blame you for not doing the things (s)he has agreed to defer.
My boss pays me too much to spend his time trying to figure how I should be using my time. I wouldnt like doing that if I were him either!
Sure, he provides guidance on what his priorities are and I'm smart enough to figure out what mine should be in order to align with his. The primary responsibility for how I prioritize my work is mine though. Becuase he's not telling me what to do next (prioritizing my workflow) doesnt mean he isnt prioritizing his!
When I start wanting to lean on him telling me what to do next I have a little 'heart to heart' with myself called "grow up"!
I think you missed the point of my post - which (in a nutshell) was:
No amount of money (large or small, lack or abundance of) is an excuse to justify us not being responsible for our actions (including the actions of the people we are responsible for), the consequences thereof, and choosing which actions to take, and which ones not to take, in any given "present moment"
Money is a dubious standard to judge the quality of anything by
The successful delegation of tasks is possible only when the "honest two-way relationship" exists between you and your Boss. I mean the Boss must provide ALL the information that you need to prioritize your tasks and you must inform him in advance about ALL risks and possible delays in your work. But the Boss expects that YOU will decide what to do next and that these decisions will be reasonable.
Maybe. But prioritizing and making the best use of time seem to go hand in hand to me.
The point is not whether he can or not - its whether or not he should. I pay people to figure out for themselves what to do next, I'm busy with my own next actions! I am responsible for them getting it done, but I'm not a babysitter. Like DA says, no one else can tell you what your projects and next actions are, you have to make it up and make it happen (paraphrase).
One problem is that people are people and the boss has pressures too and might not be as organized as you are. So if he is responding to external events, such as new requests from his own boss, he might not have a Waiting For list and might not be thinking of the priorities he has previously given you. I am sure many people have bosses for whom "everything is important" and there are also many people who put that pressure on themselves by not discussing it with their boss. I have seen situations where a casual comment between Vice-Presidents has cascaded into a huge departmental project with a half-day presentation 3 months later where the Vice President has no idea why such a fuss is being made out of a simple remark. Half of the battle is making sure your boss is clear about what he is asking for and not just passing down something vague in the hope that you will figure out the question he should have asked his boss before accepting the assignment.
The important thing with up-to-date lists is not to be able to tell the boss what you have done so far on a project (he probably only cares about results, not plans), but to be able to negotiate with him the priorities of all of the projects he has delegated to you. If the boss says:"you decide what to do first", you may be left in the same no-win situation as when your mother buys you 2 ties and when you wear one of them she says: "So, you don't like the other one?"
In this discussion we are presuming that there is one person who is your boss. In the corporate world most of the jobs have matrix reporting. This is true for finance jobs, where your have one straight line reporting and atleast couple of dotted line relationship.
At the end of the day even after negotiating with the various bosses on the priorites, you do leave all of them unsatisfied and sometimes complaining about something or the other. The only thing that one can do is warn them if there are chances of not meeting the deadlines, whether they like it or not.
Maybe I should explain my own position a little more. I am a web developer. I currently have around 20 development projects going on. I work with other employees on these projects, but I'm not a manager myself. Overall these 20 projects will take a few months to totally wrap up. New ones will obviously come onto my radar during that time. It is his responsiblity as my manager (by definition) to work with me to make sure that my projects are prioritized according to the organization's goals. If I knew what the priorities were then I wouldn't need a manager. For other people in other organizations this may not work, but at my level it is perfect.