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I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour

I read a very interesting article on LinkedIn a few days ago - If you use LinkedIn I'm sure you know the ones I'm talking about, they have exciting titles like 5 reasons why Apple is doomed or 5 reasons why Windows 8 will save Microsoft - anyway, unfortunately I forgot the title of this story but I don't think it included a 5.

But I do remember it was about meetings and the different affects they have on people's time and it got me thinking about my own daily schedule and just how much meetings affect my schedule.


I'm sure like many people that long and boring drive into work in the morning does if nothing else allow me to plan my day. As a scrum master one of my first jobs of the day is the daily 'stand up' - it's planned it's every day it's the first thing more or less and it's time boxed - We all walk away knowing what the day has in store for us or at least we hope we do.


However like many people in my position meetings seem to happen! It's a fact of life and perhaps justifiably so..... there's strategy meetings, progress meetings, team meetings, stake holder meetings... meetings around the water fountain (or coffee machine), those meetings are probably more gossip than formal to be honest but also usually much more fun, informative and productive.


As a programmer like so many other programmers I have a bit of a dislike for meetings and being really honest a bit of skepticism - but why?  Well perhaps this is one of the reasons - they cost me more!




The manager's diary is designed around the meeting - neatly broken up into hourly (or perhaps half hour) units. Not unlike Hugh Grant's view of time units in 'About a Boy' only admittedly probably less fun - but he does make an interesting point, how do people manage to cram a job in?  

Managers merely look through their leather clad diary, find an empty slot or unit and pencil's a meeting in - It's the schedule of command. 


But we don't all work the same... programmers work differently (well we all knew that) but it's not just programmers, it's  writers, designers, makers, creative people - we all use our time in a different way - we don't have 30 minute units - most of us developers can't get our IDE up and running in 30 minutes!  I don't like the idea of planning work down to the hour - it just doesn't work in development, half day units are more accurate and more akin to how we really work.


When you're working to half day units, perhaps 7 times the size of a managers unit meetings are a disaster (perhaps not quite on the scale of Darfur but you get the idea). A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon - it breaks it up into two useless pieces of time simply too small to do anything productive in.  


OK so a meeting can typically blow at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But what about the other effects? If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I'm slightly less likely to start something big or risky.


The flip side of this however (if you're a 'maker' that is) what about the thought of having an entire day free to work with no meeting to prepare and attend? two uninterrupted half days back to back! we all know how much work can be delivered on those rare and wonderful days.


Each type of time scheduling works by itself the problems arise when the two time schedules meet and us the makers tend to end up resonating to the managers schedule. 



Written by Christian Miles

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Christian MilesEngland, UK