Defrag Your Calendar

You’ve heard people say that multi-tasking is inefficient, and everyone thinks they’re good at it, but they’re really not. That’s a powerful concept to remember, as you try to work through your day, but many people don’t try to influence the calendar structure they’re working within. I realize many people can’t influence the structure of their days, but many people could influence it significantly more than they realize.

More than a decade ago, Paul Graham wrote a great essay, Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule that talks about how people who “make” things (instead of manager/decide things) need big time blocks to be effective. Cal Newport has written and talked significantly about related concepts, like this blog post about attention residue, and how hard it is for people to shift gears into new mental spaces.

I saw this great little web game DEFRAGGED a while back, which drives the power of intentionally rearranging your day to give you more big blocks of time to work on big, important problems.

While the concept seem obvious, I think it’s a powerful reminder that you, as an individual (regardless of your level of seniority/autonomy) should try, when you can to schedule, or influence the scheduling of, meetings, appointments, etc. to give you big blocks of time, and then use those very intentionally on the big, important stuff in your life.

Use those big blocks you can get to work on the “big rocks” (see Stephen Covey’s powerful metaphor here), not lots of pebbles and sand. Pebbles and sand (e.g. approving an employee’s timecard, or paying a bill) can fit in lots of places, so reserve those valuable big blocks for the big, important stuff that you need time to really advance.

See also these two posts:

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