Adversarial prioritization

Posted on April 11, 2018

A pretty common thing in your task tracker is that everything ends up either at the highest priority or otherwise completely ignored. I’m sure there’s some psychology or game theory aspects to it, but basically whatever you happen to be triaging at the moment always has an urgent feel to it, and the whole prioritization system ends up useless.

Here’s an idea: rather than you manually assigning an absolute high/middle/low priority tag to each of your thousands of tasks, your task-tracking system can pick two tasks, show them to you, and say “which one is more important?”. And then do that maybe ten times per day. Then the system can automatically derive not just arbitrary high/mid/low tags, but a full absolute ranking to the whole dataset. Clearly there can be conflicting answers or cycles or importances that change over time - but a sufficiently flexible system should be able to handle all of that quite well.