Paul Graham on Schedules

Ahmed Musaad
Ahmed Musaad
Paul Graham on Schedules

While browsing Hacker News one morning, I stumbled upon an article written by Paul Graham on his website (Link). The article itself is a bit old (July 2009) but the information in it is valid and accurate until this day. The essay talks about the different schedules used by managers and makers (programmers, engineers, ..) and how the crossover between the two different types can harm productivity and efficiency.

” … 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.”

Paul Graham

I observe the effect described in the essay in my daily life. A meeting in the morning can ruin any chance of doing something productive before lunch, and the same thing goes for meetings after lunch, they reduce the possibility of completing bigger tasks in the afternoon. Before reading this essay, I never thought of the possibility it might be meetings that’s causing this disruption, but now I know.

I recommend you read the full essay and reflect upon it. You can also share it with your managers and colleagues to start a discussion on how meetings affect your team productivity. Here is the link to the essay (Link).

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