Office hours instead of coffee

 
Between two kids under three and running DuckDuckGo I have a very tight schedule. I try really hard to maximize my productivity through a variety of efforts like online services (just added RescueTime to the mix) and attempting to maintain a makers schedule.

The problem is requests to meet for coffee, usually by local entrepreneurs. It's a problem because I do generally want to meet with these people, but I just can't make it work logistically. Going somewhere to meet for coffee usually literally takes about three-five times as much time as the actual "content time" of the meeting itself. It's highly inefficient.
For a while, I had people come to me (at my house at the time). But that was relatively awkward for a number of reasons (kids around, forcing people to drive out here, a bit of privacy invasion, meetings would linger).

Now I've hit upon something that is working well, which is really an adaptation of what Paul Graham outlined in the makers schedule essay: batching these meetings via office hours.

I've been using Ohours to manage it (mine is at http://ohours.org/yegg). I block off a bit of time a week (this week it's this morning) and open four blocks of twenty min. It's pretty much first come first served in that I haven't rejected anyone yet, but I reserve the right to do so if it feels completely off-topic (non-startup related).

The twenty minutes was a hunch from all those previous coffee meetings but turns out to be a great time length. At twenty minutes you have to get to the point. I don't like small talk as it is so I find this works well, and after fourteen sessions it has almost always started to linger by the end. If we need/want more time, we can always schedule an off-office-hours block thereafter.

 

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I'm the Founder & CEO of DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you. I'm also the co-author of Traction, the book that helps you get customer growth. More about me.