How to keep managers from stealing all your time.

Experts, do you need a modified makers schedule?

Why experts have a hard time getting things done at work

In an iconic post, Paul Graham of Y-combinator discussed why managers like short blocks of time to take meetings, and makers (coders) like long blocks of time to be creative. Their solution: office hours.

Almost every expert I know feels deficient in “makers time”. They complain about not being able to do their REAL work because management schedules too many meetings. Not enough time to do experiments, analyze data, read and write papers, etc. The solution Y-combinator found probably won’t work for those in traditional organizations.

There might still be hope for you. Here is my recommendation for getting maker’s time in a manager’s world.

How to arrange your calendar to get more time to focus.

  • Look out 3-4 weeks from now and schedule a 3 hr block.
  • Name it something professional. Not, “me time”.
  • Make it recurring for 8 weeks.
  • Be flexible, give it up if your boss or colleagues need it.
  • Track your success rate, and any important feedback you got from colleagues.
  • Did you keep it 25-50% of the time? That is better than 0%!

How to keep manager’s from stealing your focus time.

Don’t block every opening in your calendar hoping for some “makers time”. It will backfire on you. As someone who schedules many meetings a week, I always try first to find an open slot. If nothing is open, I schedule indiscriminately and force people to adjust.