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Why meetings are so disruptive

Paul Graham has a great article on his blog on why meetings feel so disruptive to many of us. He partitions the world into managers and makers. Managers live their working life in 1 hour increments, so slotting a sudden meeting in is no big deal. It is just an issue of where to go. Makers live their lives in at least half day increments so that a one hour meeting can render half a day completely useless. When the two worlds collide, the makers suffer.

As Product Managers and Business analysts we have to be both. We have to have a lot of meetings where we make decisions and try to figure out what the project is going to be. Then we have to have quiet time to create the specifications. It is really difficult to switch back and forth and he offers several strategies for dealing with the context switching.

Paul mentions that a very common strategy is for makers to just ignore meeting requests. I definitely have used this strategy many times, but it is a little rude and can obviously be a bit offensive. These days I tend to put all my meetings first thing in the morning or towards the end of the day. This lets me focus on productive work with a block straight through the day. The difficulty comes with people always wanting to go out to lunch. When my productive block is from 10am to 3pm, having lunch is actually quite disruptive.

How do you handle the maker vs. manager conflict?

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