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pockets of time September 2, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Meeting Minutes, Wasting Time.
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Yesterday I had a meeting scheduled to start at 2:00. I finished a small project at 1:45.

And there was nothing else on my list that was worth starting, editing, or continuing for 15 minutes before I had to go to the meeting.

I was reminded of this passage from “Still Around the Morning After”*:

“Kerry, is 8:30 all right?” Susan called from the living room.

“They don’t have anything earlier?”

“Nope.”

“That’s fine, then,” Kerry said. It meant they had about half an hour before they had to leave. Late reservations made strange little pockets of time: even if there were things she needed to be doing, if there was half an hour until she needed to leave, there was suddenly half an hour with nothing to do. She had bills to pay, journals to read. They could figure out where to put that rug that Susan had transplanted from her house. Or they could have sex. It was funny to have sex on the list of options, just another thing on the list of things to do with her time, even if usually it was by far the most attractive thing on that list.

Meetings that are about to start, or that start very late in the day, or that start half an hour after your day begins, or half an hour after lunch — basically any meeting that starts within half an hour of another planned event — tend to kill a chunk of your day that you could otherwise use productively.

It’s like this post about the Paul Graham article that discussed manager scheduling versus maker scheduling — managers can do meetings whenever they want, because they only exist to approve, disapprove, mete out punishment, and attend meetings. Those of us who design, develop, and create aren’t as good at structuring our days around the meeting schedules of others. When we’re in the zone, we’re in the zone — we don’t want to stop for anything. Conversely, when we’re not in a creative mood, we find other projects to work on or administrivia to… um… administrate? Administrivate?

Whatever.

Yesterday, my task list was pretty light. I had almost nothing to do that could be done in the time available. So I checked Facebook. I checked my e-mail. I blogged. I sat at my desk and waited.

And waited.

Those 15 minutes took forever to pass. Possibly even longer (subjectively) than the meeting.

It’s those little pockets of time…

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* The story contains explicit sex, and is fanfiction. Read at your own risk. And don’t judge me. It’s a good story.

You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve wanted to work that passage into a blog entry.

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