While I never knew why, I've always gone to great lengths to avoid scheduling meetings or appointments in the middle of my day. Especially when I was deep into writing, I absolutely hated to have to break up my day for any but the most necessary interruptions. I was even reluctant to schedule lunch with friends. It seemed to me, albeit improbably and unrealistically, as if the whole day was wasted if I had to leave mid-morning or mid-afternoon to meet with someone or to have an appointment.
Now I know why, thanks to a programmer who's defined the difference between a "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule."
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.
Exactly! It's difficult for me to tear myself away from the writing process—and it is a process. It's like if you jumped off the elliptical machine before your heart rate got up to speed. Even if you went back for another 15 minutes, the benefit wouldn't be as great.
The writing muscle works the same way, and I suppose for a programmer it works similarly. I need a long chunk of time in order for creativity to run amuck. My muse needs hours and hours of playing fields, or else she just stays inside and doesn't come out at all.
There's another intrusion, too, that wreaks havoc on a Maker's schedule: the internet. The constantly updated stream of information that's available at a click, not to mention email, Facebook and Twitter. Now you can have a virtual lunch with friends by checking Twitter to see where they're grabbing a bite, and catch up over Facebook by peering at their vacation albums. These left-brained interruptions are coitus interruptus for an impassioned muse.
To paraphrase, Break my Day.
The article above describes the euphoria that comes with the prospect of an unbroken day:
I've never been able to explain my meeting aversion to anyone; I always passed it off as a typical introvert's quirk. But that explanation didn't hold, since when I did go to a meeting or social gathering I was usually the last to leave—I do enjoy the company of others, even more so since I so often find myself alone.
But apparently I'm not alone with my meeting aversion. You can read more on the Freakanomics blog at the NY Times, where author Stephen J. Dubner is also freaked out about meetings. And as he suggests, I will now forward this column to anyone who asks me to schedule a meeting.