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Building schedules through timeboxing

There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour. […]

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.

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule (Paul Graham)

I’m riding the fence between a manager’s schedule and a maker’s schedule through aggressive timeboxing. I block off my mornings for focused time (typically from 9am – 12pm) knowing that my afternoons will be chopped up by interruptions and meetings.

Whenever possible, I try to stack my meetings — often on a Tuesday or Thursday — so I can drop another block of “Get Stuff Done” time on my calendar for Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.

Colleagues who don’t understand timeboxing get confused — “why is your calendar fully booked?” — but it’s for a reason: to make sure there’s protected time to do the deep work.

My timeboxing estimates aren’t perfect. If a task takes longer to accomplish I’ll extend the time or add more time elsewhere in the week. But the exercise itself, of carving the hours out of my daily schedule, is incredibly useful.

By Andy

Andy McIlwain wrangles content and community programs at GoDaddy as a Senior Marketing Manager. He's helped folks work with the web since '08 as a community organizer, workshop instructor, web developer, and marketer. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.