Jay Shirley

Striving to be a man of gallantry and taste

Maximize Maker Time

| Comments

A while ago, Paul Graham wrote about Maker Time. Since then, I’ve tried multiple experiments to see how I can either maximize my Maker Time, or better, to convert time into Maker Time.

I’ve found several ways that have maximized that time, but have been almost completely blocked in the idea of converting other time to Maker Time.

The best thing that I’ve done to maximize my time seemed counter-intuitive at first. Before starting any work, I had to specifically not work. Not even in my thoughts.

This was easier by exercising, which really helped clear my mind. I started with doing meditation, but moved into combining meditation and exercise. I’m able to get into a mostly meditative state while going through some basic yoga poses (Yoga can be daunting to start “alone”, I think trying to find a good Ashtanga teacher will get you there fastest.)

After morning exercise, I then prepare my day. I make coffee, setup my desk for the work that I know needs to be done, maybe will even peruse the news. What I’ve found is that this will ramp up my excitement for the coming Maker Time. My eagerness increases with each delay, until finally I release my intellectual hounds.

And those hounds sprint ahead, until about lunch time. Then they fall asleep and will not wake. My motivation to create has died entirely and permanently for the day. I’ve been incredibly unsuccessful at breathing life back into my day. This then turns into my Manager Time. During this time I’m really quite good at managing the other parts of life, even writing. But I still prefer to create more in terms of programming and development.

Recently, and quite accidentally, I developed a technique that helped me increase my performance both as a Maker and Manager.

The Hacking Hour

After lunch, I invite everybody I work with to join me on a Google Hangout. It’s like Pair Programming, except they’re either not programmers, or programming (yet). They are giving me feedback, I implement rough drafts of the features or changes, and usually come out with some very solid work.

I look at the ticket list prior, as part of my Manager Time, which yields a ticket or two ideal for the Hacking Hour. This helps constrain the topics, also setting the tone against bigger changes.

Essentially, the Hacking Hour is feeder for the next day as well. It sets the priorities of what I should be working on and gets me more excited. Talking with non-developers about a product and getting them involved gets everybody more excited, too.

More excited people are also more engaged. Excited and engaged people help push me along. It’s hard to lose!

It’s very easy to get burned out when you’re working on a product that nobody else cares about, even if the customers like it. Often times it isn’t that other, non-tech, colleagues aren’t excited it’s just that they’ve forgotten. The Hacking Hour reminds them, rekindles their fire or keeps it burning bright.

I’m happy I stumbled upon this method. I feel the effects each day and see the excitement build in the team. It makes my afternoons more productive and feels like a better usage of time.