Maker’s Schedule versus Manager’s Schedules

Clive Thompson, who’s now trying to juggle his book tour with presumably actually doing newer work, steered me toward this gem from programmer Paul Graham. Feel free to substitute “writer” for maker throughout. I feel the maker’s pain.

One reason programmers dislike meetings so much is that they’re on a different type of schedule from other people. Meetings cost them more.

There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour.

When you use time that way, it’s merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you’re done.

Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting.

This is why I try to schedule nothing before 2 pm. Sad part: if I schedule something for 2 and am going well at 1.45, I’m in a world of regret and misery.

via Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.

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