David Heinemeier Hansson

January 23, 2023

Glorious days like these


This is my favorite kind of day. An entirely empty schedule combined with a juicy, challenging project to dedicate it to. The perfect antidote to the dread that occasionally sets in when a whole week is devoured by #ExecutiveLife. Nothing invigorates the soul like seeing something come together out of nothing, and to do that, you need these long stretches of uninterrupted time.

I occasionally get asked how I manage to juggle it all. Business, programming, podcasting, racing, writing, family, investing. This is the secret. A calendar that generously afford days like these, with room for depth and dedication to one thing at a time. Not by clever productivity hacking, fancy calendar stacking, or endless bursts of busyness.

That answer is often met with a disbelief that disconnects the questioner from accepting this as a possible reality for them. The defense usually goes: Sure, you can do this now, because you used to work crazy hours in the early days – we're not there yet.

But Jason and I always worked like this. If anything, we used to work more like this. I recall not keeping a calendar at all through much of the 2000s. Because the default answer to every extraneous invitation was "no", and because our team of less than a dozen just didn't need much ceremony or planned coordination.

This is our reality because we designed it to be. Staffing a company with managers of one. Coordinating predominately through asynchronous communication. Running development on 6-week cycles with Shape Up. These are all choices. Ones you can make too.

So choose to have an emptier calendar in 2023. Strive to see more of those entirely clear days. You'll be amazed by the progress it can yield.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.