I was inspired by the article: http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html which describes two types of schedules for two classes of professionals.
Managers’ schedules are interrupt-driven and reactionary. Tasks are mostly making a decision and delegating. Days are not preplanned and there are no time blocks greater than one hour.
Maker’s schedule involves focus hours to build stuff and plan. Interruptions are fatal to progress.
The question that I’m asking myself is Can I, as a maker, run on a manager’s schedule?
The answer is, as always, it depends. So, what does it depend on? Not all makers are the same. Some are working on tasks that require long periods of continuous focus. Fortunately, I work on things that do not require multiple hours of isolated focus time. The development work that I do becomes repetitive quite easily. The only thing that concerns me is context switching. For that, keeping a single file to track all my open tasks and writing the current state helps me context switch quite easily. It also helps to keep tasks description and action items small and precise which involves a bit of planning every day or at least once a week.
The last piece of the puzzle is the interruption. The projects I work on span multiple weeks and besides occasional high-priority bugs, I don’t get interrupted that often. That means I’ll have to interrupt myself. It sounds weird at first but it helped me be more productive when I switch between tasks. I even added personal errands, workouts, hobbies, and even napping in between to create interruptions for myself.
Overall, I spent the same amount of time and was able to accomplish more. And as a bonus found time for things that I used to put off as after-work activities, and then never actually doing them.
PS: This is not a productivity hack for everyone, just something that I experimented with and worked out well for me.