While reviewing how I’ve spent my time recently, I stumbled into a practice to better ensure I have sufficient flexible time for serendipitous projects. I’ll aim to schedule a max of ~80% of my time for inflexible work like group meetings.
The practice was inspired by ”hara hachi bun me”, the Confucian practice of eating until you’re 80% full.
Dysfunction of the over-booked calendar
What’s the harm in scheduling every minute of your day? If appointments are hard to move, it adds friction to say ‘yes’ to unexpected opportunities. I found myself disinclined make time if it had administrative overhead like rescheduling meetings and delaying project timelines.
Applying some lean production theory, as your schedule becomes 100% utilized, the wait-time for any new task approaches infinity.
Remove friction to optimize your schedule
The solution is me noticing as my schedule fills up, I’ll more aggressively block off flex time on my calendar. To be sure, I find it very useful to be intentional with every minute of my schedule. Adrian Cruz describes this well in The Power of Quiet Time. So while I may have an hour or two blocked off for writing docs or making a prototype; I consider that flex time becaue there’s low friction to reschedule that time to help debug a complex issue, or have impromptu discussions.
Some flex time in your calendar makes it easy to say ‘yes’ when opportunity knocks.