Analysts run on “maker’s schedule”

July 29, 2009
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Most of those versatile researchers of the data-driven world — the business analysts, creative analysts, or even cowboy analysts — probably run on a different schedule from their managers. Paul Graham’s latest essay compares “manager’s schedule” and “maker’s schedule.”

I’m no analyst, just a writer. But the more analysts I meet, the more I find that analysts and journalists share a surprising number of characteristics. One of them, I think, is the tendency to run on “maker’s schedule,” as explained by Graham:

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.

Meetings are interruptions. They mess up any breadcrumb trail of thoughts that has not yet been laid down in permanent memory. That’s why I’m writing this at 11:39 at night, when I can let a ghost of an idea hang unattended without fear of new email or a phone call dissolving it. Graham writes about once keeping a dinner-to-3 a.m. workday.

Now he wears a VC hat, and he can’t avoid meetings. So he schedules “office hours”

Most of those versatile researchers of the data-driven world — the business analysts, creative analysts, or even cowboy analysts — probably run on a different schedule from their managers. Paul Graham’s latest essay compares “manager’s schedule” and “maker’s schedule.”

I’m no analyst, just a writer. But the more analysts I meet, the more I find that analysts and journalists share a surprising number of characteristics. One of them, I think, is the tendency to run on “maker’s schedule,” as explained by Graham:

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.

Meetings are interruptions. They mess up any breadcrumb trail of thoughts that has not yet been laid down in permanent memory. That’s why I’m writing this at 11:39 at night, when I can let a ghost of an idea hang unattended without fear of new email or a phone call dissolving it. Graham writes about once keeping a dinner-to-3 a.m. workday.

Now he wears a VC hat, and he can’t avoid meetings. So he schedules “office hours” at the end of the day.

He hopes that pointing out the two kinds of schedule will make it easier for the “makers.” Their schedule tends to offend managers.

I hope this insight spreads.

What do you think? Do analysts you know work this way? Post a comment.


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