On valuing your time, Maker’s and manager’s schedules

Time and again, my hate for useless meetings seems to keep on drawing me to Paul Graham’s essay “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule”. (And also, I did tell a friend I’ll go share this link with her). Every time I read it, I couldn’t help but agree to a lot of the things he said. So much so that I find it hard to cite just one particular line to quote here in this post. You really just have to read the whole thing yourself.

To me, this essay is a pretty good reminder of what we should all be doing (just in case I’ve lapsed, and have been setting meetings or following up like there’s no tomorrow), and that is to respect my own time and other people’s time. In doing that, you make a more conscious effort to (well, if i can help it):

  • avoid interrupting or disturbing people unnecessarily
  • express gratitude when someone obliges you with their time
  • be present in meetings where your inputs or feedback are actually needed
  • set up meetings with the implicit target of not wasting people’s time
  • decline meetings I’m pretty sure I won’t be engaged in
  • decline meetings when they’re in conflict of personal commitments — Those are just as important (and sometimes even more) as work commitments
  • honor commitments to yourself — Ages ago, I had to block of time just for my lunch or dinner, and I even missed that because of work. That just isn’t healthy. Also when you block off time to work on something, then use that time to be productive.

Discipline on how you manage your time or own your own calendar starts with one’s self. And how badly your time gets mistreated by others (and even by yourself) highly depends on how much you’d allow it. So for your sake, start respecting and managing your time.

Challenge: focus on value

I’m so tired of things that waste or unnecessarily demand so much of people’s time. You’ve got that meeting where people don’t bother to come in on time. You sit through meetings seeing people kill time on their mobile phones (either that or they’re also people-watching just like you). You have all these goals and expectations thrust upon you, and you can only shake your head over how un-SMART a lot of them are. You’ve got young, impressionable team mates working overtime to prepare for game shows, plotting surprises for people they hardly know, making fancy props for who knows what, etc.

Maybe that’s aligned with what they like. Maybe noontime show antics is what floats their boats. Maybe I’m the boring, cultural misfit who values people’s time (mostly, my own), how it should be the individual’s choice on how they would rather spend it, and how they should have a say if other people are wasting it for them.

Maybe we should challenge ourselves to find focus, and focus on just one simple thing: providing value.

What if our focus is on producing quality interactions with whoever we deal with. We set up meetings that people don’t dread going to and they actually find value in attending. We hold general assemblies where people will get key take-aways other than free food, and they leave feeling inspired or motivated. We hold activities where participants would feel they are better or they’ve grown — even just a little teeny bit — for having been there; rather than have the feeling that they’ve just killed off 30 minutes or more of their lives.

I don’t think it’s possible to get it right off the bat and all the time. But wouldn’t this be a better direction worth going for?

Slideshare: 26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20 by @egarbugli

I stumbled upon this deck again and it’s really something that I want to share to the younger ones. Time management wasn’t exactly something I learned when I was starting out. I came from projects where OT would become the norm at certain points, and we even had Saturday work. I was so time-poor. As I grew older, I came to realize how valuable my time is. How I could make up for losses for some things, but I can never get back time I have lost or wasted. And that the more efficiently I manage my time will allow me to spend it on things that matter more.

Saved myself some time by not writing my own presentation covering the same topic.

One of the points I like is #18 which had a quote from Jason Cohen (@asmartbear):

Only ever work on the thing that will have the biggest impact.

I think most especially for the younger ones, we often get sidetracked by initiatives or other non-project related tasks. We fill up our plate with a lot of things. We say “yes” to this and that. But then you have to think about it, step back and look at the big picture, and reflect whether the things that you are doing are really the things that you need to grow or achieve your goals. As an aspiring tester/technologist, are these tasks really relevant to making myself more technical and capable in my craft?

On being busy, make it worth it

Thank goodness for the long weekend! I have a chance to recharge after a bout of sickness (nothing serious, just something I ate) a couple of days ago, and after several weeks of being quite busy at work. Speaking of busy… (not the smoothest segue, I know)… I’ve been mulling over busy-ness for some time now. Probably because of some tweets and blogs that I’ve yet to digest…

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry D. Thoreau

Key take-away/s: Be busy with something that produces value.

The cult of busy from Scott Berkun’s blog – “It’s the ability to pause, to reflect, and relax, to let the mind wander, that’s perhaps the true sign of time mastery, for when the mind returns it’s often sharper and more efficient, but most important perhaps, happier than it was before.”

Key take-away/s: Avoid making the excuse “I don’t have time for…”. Spend your time well… including the time that you’ve supposedly saved. Learn to say no. Spreading yourself too thin might just deter you from actually making a contribution.

You’re Only as Busy as You Want Yourself to Be from Jurgen Appelo’s blog

Key take-away/s: The title itself — you’re only as busy as you want yourself to be. Streamline… if you don’t need to do something, then don’t do it.

The case for slack from Markus Gärtner’s blog – “So, what happens when we don’t allow enough time to cope with the learned stuff during courses? The same thing that happens during over-training of muscles. You end up in a downward spiral, where you effectively end up knowing nothing. This is the essence of Rainsberger’s post. Allow slack, and your staff will learn; forbid time to learn and apply what was learned, and your staff will become unproductive – eventually.”

Key take-away/s: Allow for some leeway for (people to adapt to) change. Learning + Slack = Productivity.

“Tenet of professionalism: Work 40 hrs for ur employer & another 20 hrs improving urself. Always increase ur own value.” – unclebobmartin

Key take-away/s: Spend time on improving yourself.