Jeff Abbott recently called our attention to a very interesting analysis from Paul Graham about the difference between a maker’s and a manager’s schedule:
The manager’s schedule is 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.
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.
As a freelance writer, I’m obviously on the maker’s schedule, which is why the running project list I keep on my desk at all times is at least as important as the combination of paper planner and Outlook calendar I use to track phone calls and appointments. And I think Graham is totally right when he explains how poorly matched the two schedules are:
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.
Graham suggests that companies try to put managers on the maker’s schedule as much as possible, scheduling meetings at the end of the day and in “office hours”-like clusters. But Jeff raised another intriguing possibility for makers: what about a new kind of planner that broke the day down into larger chunks of time, say 2 to 3 or even 4 hours at a time? Would that be useful, or just confusing? Since that’s not the way I use my planner, I’m not really sure.
What do you think?