I am after 8 pm Ursula K Le Guin

I think about routines so often and while I do benefit from a number of chores out of habits I perform every day (wake up, coffee, read, lunch, write, early dinner, work, sleep), I admit that once in a while we do deserve some sprinkles of varieties in our daily chores once in a while. I say this after coming back from catching up with my colleagues over coffee in the university, and carrying my laptop to work in a library freezing enough to give me hypothermia. I do my work in my home office all the time in perfect solitude, susceptible to cabin fever — and I am not sure I am fond of the idea of paying for a hot desk in a coworking space, so a nice change like this is always welcomed once in a while.

One of my colleagues was required to undergo an industry placement before graduating with his Ph.D. Like me, he was also planning to submit his thesis this year, so we can move forward with what’s next (but then we both thought, “but really, what’s next?”). I asked him if he’s been writing (the thesis) at the same time. He said, he could not. Labwork took most of his entire day and by the end of the day, he is already quite knackered. He is prepared to devote the entire last quarter of 2019 plowing through writing his thesis, and I wished him the best.

His situation reminded me of the Maker vs Manager schedule I learned from work a few years ago.

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.

Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

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. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.

For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.

The idea is that those on Manager’s schedule always has some bits of work scattered all throughout their days, while those on Maker’s schedule needs some long uninterrupted hours. These two schedules could not happen at the same time, and the roles could not be forced onto each other. My friend is currently on Manager’s schedule at this point of time, and once he has gathered all his information needed, he will switch to Maker’s schedule.

Scientists in machine learning also have this concept, of which they call exploration vs exploitation. Someone in Manager’s schedule would be on Exploration mode, looking at things across many perspectives — while someone in Maker’s schedule would exploit the information found after the exploration.

Which schedule are you currently on now? I switch between Manager, then Maker, and Manager again throughout the day.

(P/s: Tag yourselves I am after 8 pm Ursula K Le Guin.)

Comment 1

  1. Pingback: How you seek to be remembered – Two Kinds of Intelligence

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