Communion Of Dreams

I’m a “maker”.
August 1, 2009, 12:43 pm
Filed under: Art, Society, Writing stuff

Wow – I *really* wish I had written this:

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. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.

For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.

There’s a lot more, but I have already excerpted more than I usually consider “fair use.” So go read the whole thing. Seriously, do so and you will understand people like me a whole lot better.

Because I am a “maker”. Whether it is the time I am writing – working on a book, or trying to come up with what I consider a worthwhile blog post, or creating content for this or that ‘project’ – or whether it is the time I am doing conservation work, I need at least a block of a half day in order to really accomplish anything. It takes a while to get sorted, situated, and settled enough so that my mind (and my hands, actually) has the necessary calm to be creative in the appropriate way.

Most people just do not understand this. They are used to living by “manager” time, even if they are not actual managers themselves. That’s because managers usually set the rules by which other people work. And naturally they set rules that they understand and are comfortable using themselves. So even if someone is not a manager themself, they have acclimated to living on manager time.

No wonder I hate meetings and interruptions so much. I cringe when someone calls and wants to “drop by” and talk with me about this or that. Yeah, it is necessary – even in my business, I need to function as a manager sometimes – but good lord, does it disrupt me, and ruin an otherwise productive block of time.

Huh. I wish I had written that. Because in writing something, I usually have to really think it through sufficiently to bring my thoughts to crystal clarity. And this would have helped me understand some vague notions I have had much more completely.

Jim Downey

(Via Freakonomics, where the discussion is also pretty damned good.)

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