Scheduling a meeting with myself

Something sorta clicked today after reading going through my email and reading some blogs. One worrying trend I've noticed recently is, well, for the lack of a better word, "human optimization". I keep getting these meeting requests, where the agenda looks somewhat like follows:

Topic Time
Topic A 09.00-10.30
Networking break 10.30 - 10.45
Topic B 10.45 - 12.00
Working lunch 12.00 - 12.30
Topic C ...

Note the use of the words "networking break" and "working lunch". So, instead of "relaxing break during which you can go to the toilet and whip out your willy and play with it all you want" and "a lunch during which you can eat, laugh, talk unimportant things, or just watch out of the window while munching", you are expected to network (what a dreadful word) during breaks and talk business during lunch.

The Skylab-4 astronauts had their not-so-famous "24 hour mutiny" when the flight controllers started to schedule experiments during their meal times as well. Instead of complying, they just spent 24 hours relaxing and resting, looking out of the window.

I'm not saying this is a problem with corporations being evil. It's more like a question of attitude - people are proud to optimize their time to accomplish as much as possible in any given time. I can't count the times someone has suggested that we should have a system that would allow us to schedule meetings more efficiently. I usually scream loudly at that point, and explain - with a foaming mouth - that we need a system that is less efficient in scheduling meetings. Because the easier it is to do something, the more you tend to do it.

The whole thing reminds me of Dragon's Bigger Pizza Theory (via Katri). If you get into the loop of trying to optimize more and more, so that you can get more done, you fill up all the freed time with more things you can optimize instead of actually having the free time to punch your baboon. I mean... Everyone always gives the answer that they are efficient because that allows them to spend more free time with their family/friends/whatever, but somehow I doubt that. I know I am dreadful at it, so I'm arrogantly assuming everyone else is, too. There are two programmer sayings that are very apt in this situation as well: "Premature optimization is the root of all evil", and "hard drive space is always 90% full". Or at least I think they are apt; YMMV.

People aren't resources. An employee can treat you as one, because you have a contract which gives you money in exchange for your time and skills. But treating yourself as a resource to be optimized... I am not so sure anymore whether that actually makes any kind of sense.

(Incidentally, the Skylab-4 astronauts never flew again in space.)




Comments

Yes the SKylab 4 crew never went into space again, but out of all teh Skylba astronauts over the whole mission they had the highest work per day ratio of any crew. After the 24 hour mutiny everything went smoothly, mutual respect, proper scheduling, and away they went. If memory serves they even got an extension.

As to never flying again, true but of the 9 skylab crew members, only 2 ever flew again - something to do with the USA not having any launches (bar one) after Skylab in 1973 (ish) till Columbia in 1981.

--Ewan Spence, 16-Aug-2005


"teh Skylba?"

Man, you seriously need rest from all the podcasting :-)

--JanneJalkanen, 16-Aug-2005


I find that page about the medical issues astronauts face in space absolutely facinating. In fact, I was late from work today because I started reading it ;)

--kolibri, 16-Aug-2005


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