Categories | Getting Things Done | Implementation | Psychology of GTD
A Community Contribution from Erik Hanberg
There’s an idea I’ve read about when it comes to how different kinds of people schedule their day. It’s maker versus manager. Like me, many people work as both maker and manager.
Managers tend to schedule in one hour blocks. There’s usually not a question about whether or not there’s a meeting at 2:00; it’s a question of who that meeting is with.
Makers tend to think in half-day blocks, scheduling three, four, or more hours for a single task. Writing, coding, creative problem solving, etc., are all done best with a lot of hours put toward them all at once.
I’ve found the same tension in my own schedule as well. Some of my work makes perfect sense in hour-long segments. But some of it really needs to be in half-day chunks: building websites really requires at least two hours of solid attention to get anything significant accomplished, and often more.
I’ve gotten much better at scheduling meetings to give me the half-day chunks I want for coding or writing. Here are some of the ways I’ve balanced it:
- My first step is to try to pack the meetings together. If I have the choice, I’d rather have a 1:00 and then a 2:30 and then a 4:00 as opposed to a 10:00, 1:00, and 4:00, which leaves a lot of awkward space in the middle.
- I try to make busy days busier. If there are already three meetings on one day, there may as well be five. I’ll schedule more on that day to try to keep other days free.
- When there’s no avoiding having a lone meeting on a day, I’ll usually try to schedule it at the end of the day to give me the morning and early afternoon for work.
- I get up early. I’ve never been much of a morning person. I mean, I like mornings once I’m up, but I don’t like the getting up part. I’m actively working at changing that. An earlier start means more time.
- I still often look to nights and weekends for those 4-hour blocks of time. On a recent Saturday night I spent three hours developing out a shopping cart for a client. It’s not an ideal way to spend Saturday night, I suppose, but when things are going well and you’re making progress, there’s a certain flow that you get into, and it can be pretty enjoyable.
I think these steps have helped give me the open time I need to get projects done while balancing all the meetings I need to attend.
David Allen’s Getting Things Done system is great for getting work done during those unexpected times that will always develop. If you schedule yourself with maker vs. manager tasks in mind, you’ll keep those awkward times to a minimum. And you’ll find you can get more productive use from your day.