How does this fit into my life? Well, I'm basically transitioning from a maker to a manager now that I'm the PI of my own group. Instead of spending most of my days in 3-4 hour chunks of either coding or being deep in analysis, I am finding most of my days interrupted with at least a couple of meetings, which make it almost impossible to actually accomplish any "making". This realization is important, because I don't want to end up being only a manager of other makers. As scientists get promoted they tend to flow from making to managing, but different individuals succeed to different extents at maintaining a balance. Put another way, I want to keep spending a large fraction of my time with an xterm and an emacs buffer open, rather than my email client and a Word document (ugh).
I obviously have to spend a reasonable amount of time meeting with people, so how do I strike the balance I want? What Graham describes from his younger days, and what I've seen a lot of scientists do is basically work two full days every day: 9-5ish as a manager and then 9PM-2AM (or whatever) coding, analyzing data, or whatever. I'm not quite ready to work that much, so what I've resolved to do (we'll see how it goes) is to actually schedule half-day chunks into my calendar for "making" when I won't be free to accept meetings with anyone else. I'll close my door, not answer the phone, and focus on a project in that time.
Wish me luck!
My boss keeps his Thursday afternoons blocked off for just such a reason. He also uses this time to schedule his own impromptu meetings without involving his secretary, but this is a rare occurrence. He also does all of his e-mailing at the end of the day starting at 5 when most everyone else goes home. He says it avoids dealing with the back and forth e-mail threads and keeps him more efficient. It's a good system and it seems to work for him.
Oh... and put me back on your blog roll!
This is a bit off topic, but there's a great interview with Paul Graham on EconTalk in which he talks about his seed funding company y-combinator, as well as startups in general, hackers & artists, and other interesting stuff. You might enjoy as a fan of Graham's.
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