Monday, April 30, 2012
Over time your computer's hard drive becomes fragmented. As files are created, changed, moved, and deleted the data become randomly dispersed over the physical surface of the disk. As a result your available space is fragmented and therefore takes longer to access.
It is recommended that you periodically defragment (or "defrag" in leetspeak) your drive. This moves as much data and free space as possible into larger, contiguous areas thereby optimizing the drive's performance.
As a larger percentage of my time becomes scheduled (because I need to work with other people) I've noticed that my calendar has become fragmented. Meetings and scheduled tasks are scattered throughout the day leaving smaller and smaller amounts of interstitial time in which to do solo work. A half hour between meetings is simply not enough time to reset myself and make meaningful progress on a task before the next meeting starts.
So now I'm working on the idea of defragging my calendar. That is, moving each day's meetings and scheduled tasks as close to contiguous as possible, thus freeing up the largest possible blocks of time in which to work on other things.
Of course there are a couple of obvious challenges with this, so I've begun thinking about how to countermeasure them:
PROBLEM: Other people's schedules. Naturally when working with others it's necessary to work around their schedules. I can't simply schedule a meeting whenever I like and expect them to rearrange their lives around my personal productivity efforts.
COUNTERMEASURE: Standard work. Knowledge workers tend to rail against this idea, but I still contend that on some level most of what we do is repetitive in nature and can therefore be standardized. For example, if there is someone I find myself needing to schedule time with regularly I can set up a weekly one-on-one. It is easier, I think, to setup a regular meeting at a desired time than it is a bunch of on-demand meetings. And I also think that a regular cadence improves the quality of communication.
PROBLEM: Transition time. The downside to stacking meetings on top of one another is that it doesn't allow enough time to transition (physically and mentally) between meetings.
COUNTERMEASURE: Shorter meeting times. Schedule meetings in hour time slots, but make them last 45 minutes. Meetings in half-hour slots should be 22 minutes. This will not only give you enough time for transitions but should also help to streamline the meetings themselves. Of course this can be a difficult culture change to bring about, but a few good examples can go a long way.
There are probably some other potential downsides and I could be way off base here. But I think it's a hypothesis worth testing. I expect it'll take a while to effect these changes, but I think I'll learn a lot and maybe share some of it here.
Posted by Evan Durant at 10:51 AM
Monday, April 16, 2012
Eventually the cognitive dissonance created by this situation was bound to overwhelm me, so last week I made several halting efforts at 5S. But the subtractive process of pulling out each and every item and trying to decide if it belonged in the drawer or not was proving difficult and unfulfilling.
Then I hit upon an idea. I took everything out of the drawer and dumped the whole lot of it into a box. (Kinda like a little red tag area.) Now every time I reach for something in the drawer that isn't there, I fish it out of the box, use it, and then give it a home in my drawer. I figure that at the end of a month I'll have everything in the drawer that should be there and nothing that shouldn't. The rest can be safely dispositioned as appropriate.
Now if I could just find a box big enough for everything in my garage...
Posted by Evan Durant at 8:00 AM