Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Tue, 28 Jul 2009 11:51:07 GMT  <== Computers ==> 

Paul Graham - I can vouch for the veracity of this. Wish more managers understood it. A phone call that a programmer's manager thinks takes 5 minutes can easily cost him most of the rest of the morning. Getting your brain around a hard problem is hard. Once you've done it, you need uninterrupted time to convert it into code.

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.

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