Light calendar, long task list

Daryl and I are enjoying this season of no big events and fewer random coffee requests. It fits his personality. I’ve been good with it too but I’ll welcome the occasional coffee getting back on my calendar in the future.

For now this season also aligns well with our near term objectives for Little Engine. We’ve been pretty heads down working on a couple of different projects.

Part of the reason for writing this blog post is because I need to make it explicit to myself that just because there is an open spot on my calendar I can’t accept every meeting or phone call or Zoom request. COVID is a convenient excuse to decline the in-person ones but I’ve been stuck with what to say for the others.

When leaving the house for the office the other day my wife, as she often does, asked what the day ahead looked like for me. I usually just run through who I’ll be talking with that day and a high level overview of our discussions. It keeps her in the loop on my work world. It also helps me mentally prep for the day.

That day I had nothing on my calendar. And I was in a hurry. So I just said “light calendar, long task list”, gave her a quick kiss, and headed out the door.

I thought about the phrase later and told it to Daryl. As we were talking, I was reminded of an essay by Paul Graham, Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.

I first read this as DelMar was starting to grow. I was struggling trying to write code about 50% of my time and spending the other 50% of my time meeting with my business partner, managing a couple of staff, managing several projects, finding new leads, and generally learning this whole business thing on the fly. In my head I could slice up the day and do all the things I loved. It never worked out as planned. It was the worst of both worlds, not the best.

Graham’s essay was so impactful because I didn’t even realize these are two different worlds. That is what the most impactful writing does. It gives you a whole new framework on the world that you hadn’t seen before. With this new framework, things start to make sense. The hard stuff can be avoided. The easy stuff stands out.

I am enjoying this light calendar, long task list world I’m in now. It has been at least a decade since I’ve regularly been on a maker’s schedule and it feels like I’ve moved back home. But I also learned how to live pretty well in the foreign land of the manager’s world. So I actually look forward to getting my passport stamped by some managers again when I rejoin the long calendar, short task list world. When these projects are a little farther along I’ll have something to talk about.

I just can’t try to live in both.

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