Paul Graham continues to be one of my favourite business writers – I estimate that I’ve been reading his essays for a decade now. In many ways, even without having met him, pg (and Hacker News, which he built and originally named Startup News) is a key influence in my enthusiasm for tech startups, capital raising, and expansive business thinking in general.
This tweet, which was retweeted into my stream today, was a very timely reminder of his great 2009 essay on the Maker’s Schedule v the Manager’s Schedule.
— Aaron Batalion (@abatalion) September 2, 2014
If you manage people … or even just work with people, this is a valuable read. In fact, if you’re time poor, my advice is to go and read the essay rather than my musings on it. pg’s premise is simple:
- Managers view time in hourly increments. You change what you’re doing every hour, and business is largely the process of filling the open slots in your calendar with the most important meetings or discussions you can have
- Makers (and here pg speaks about programmers and writers) view time in much larger chunks – at least half days and full days. This allows important tasks the time they need to be addressed properly
I live and breathe the Maker’s Schedule – so delivering my Coaching (half and full day blocks) and building my other companies (meetings in the morning; focused days afterwards) is massively energising. Indeed, one of the key tools I use is an annual Contextual Calendar which only allows me to schedule my time in half day increments – and I’m not surprised, because most of the strategy sessions I run with clients require creative “Making” time not quickfire “Managing” time. I’m also a writer, so I wonder if that’s relevant? Anyway, I think it’s important not to view this approach as “anti-meeting”. Meetings get a bad rap because they are useful tool poorly used – blaming the concept of a meeting for all those wasted hours is like blaming cars for accidents and spoons for making you fat. (You can quote me on that too – according to the Sydney Morning Herald I am a ‘meeting Olympian‘.)
Meetings are a valuable tool poorly applied. Blaming meetings for hours wasted is like blaming spoons for making you fat — Jacob Aldridge (@jacobaldridge) September 2, 2014
From a scheduling perspective then, there is nothing worse in my life than a single meeting at 3pm in the afternoon. I can’t explain it intellectually, but that one block of time can ruin my whole day’s productivity. It’s why, while I’m not a morning person (and I often work from dinner to 3am as pg discusses) you will often hear me proposing breakfast meetings or meetings “first thing in the morning – what does first thing mean for you”.
Having all my meetings over by lunchtime, especially the one hour meetings (as opposed to the longer coaching sessions I am paid to run) is my way of eating the frog.
Planning Sales meetings, as I’m doing right now with my upcoming new intake of clients, is the epitome of Manager’s Scheduling. It’s “meeting a dozen people for coffee when our diaries overlap in the next month”. I find it immensely fascinating and valuable when I’m in the meeting, and quite a struggle coordinating so many. Plus it’s a back and forth task – meaning even if I put aside a half-day to plan it doesn’t get resolved and returned messages dribble back to me for days afterwards.
Bless my assistant is all I can say, and if you are a Maker who also Manages some or all of the Sales function in your business then take my advice – hire a PA, an EA, or even a VA with diary management skills. In my case, I simply block half and full day chunks of time in my Outlook calendar as “Available for Meetings” and send the fabulous Kirsty details on the meetings I would like to arrange.
She, and the rest of my coaching delivery team who are also always keen to find time with me, have enough access to my diary that they can fill those slots as they see fit. Living on Manager’s time, they will always be able to find another hour here and there to make it happen. And I can conduct all of those meetings while still energetically living in a Maker space – attending a full day chunk of focused conversation.
So…What Does First Thing Mean For You?
A quick glance at my diary now reveals that I still have a handful of available meeting times over the next 3 weeks.
So if you’re in Brisbane, like coffee (or beer) and want to know how to create a step change in your business next year, drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m sure you’ll understand if Emma makes contact to book in a time that works for us both.
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