The Maker's Schedule, Restraint and Flow

A few years ago Paul Graham published a short essay “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule“. It described succinctly how, and perhaps more importantly why calendar entry driven task scheduling, and in particular meetings, cause issues for makers. And I include myself and many of my colleagues within that “makers” general collective term.

Both the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule are important, but resonate differently and don’t mix. When making, building, creating things, solving problems, interruptions are disastrous, for all the reasons that Paul explains.

On the other side, time management, the proper organisation of tasks and working out what work to do, and how, doesn’t come for free. Managers and makers alike need skills in these areas. In order to build these skills, each one of us needs to understand that the areas actually exist, first of all. Email, phone calls, interruptions, the almost endless todo list and prioritisation issues are all things that we need to manage. And I recognise that I need to manage those things better. I use the Pomodoro Technique on occasion, but that’s just one tool. I also need to learn restraint. I need to resist the temptation to say “yes”, and to allow myself to be interrupted. If I get it right, I will find myself in flow more often. And that’s the mode that makers – developers, in our context – work.

Since that original article on the Maker’s Schedule, I’ve come across many other great articles and videos, and I wanted to share a few of them with you here, as you may find them useful too.

Remember – saying “no”, creating situations where you’re less able to be interrupted, using task and time management techniques that work for you, that let you produce more (or less, but that’s the subject for another post), is what we should be doing. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because your project manager thinks and works in 1 hour chunks of time, you need to do as well. Of course, real life has a habit of getting in the way, but don’t let that stop us trying to be our best.

Further viewing & reading:

Scott Hanselman: It’s Not What You Read, It’s What You Ignore

Johnny Wu: Developer Productivity – The Art Of Saying “No”

Inbox Pause (great as an idea as well as this implementation)

The Pomodoro Technique