Wait, other people can take your time?

My calendar to start the year

If your time is for the taking, you’re working at a crazy company.

A few weeks ago I shared what my calendar looked like. It struck a nerve. Tons of talk around it.

And then a few days later we hosted a “The Basecamp Way to Work” workshop at our office (here’s a retrospective from someone who attended). During these 5-hour workshops we go deep and typically answer over 100 questions from the audience.

A question about my calendar came up. And as we were getting into it, I asked the questioner a question back about how scheduling works at their company. It was at that moment I learned how blissfully naive I am about the insanity that goes on in most companies.

To be clear: I’m glad I’m blissfully naive about it. I could never work the way a lot of people are forced to work.

As many people know — and as I didn’t — in most companies people don’t really control their own time. Everyone can see everyone else’s calendar, and people can pick away at each other’s time.

“Ah, an opening! Let me grab it before someone else does!”

“There’s a gap… Fill it!”

“Someone blocked out 4 hours to themselves? Oh good! That means they’re available and not stuck in meetings… I can hit them up then.”

You can see everyone else’s schedule? That makes any spare time, any free time, any unclaimed time like seams of gold stuck between rock in the quary. Mine it!

What. The. Fuck. This is not OK, but apparently it’s oh so normal.

This — THIS — may be the reason so many companies are so fucked up. Why so many people are driven to work late nights, weekends, etc. Why life has to fit into work’s leftovers. When people don’t control their own time, of course someone else will push you to the limit. It doesn’t cost them anything, but it costs you everything.

Imagine if anyone could just take some money out of your bank account when they needed it. Time’s more valuable than money, yet that’s exactly what people are doing with other people’s time.

Yes, I know you can decline an invitation, but what % are declined? Slim!

No thank you

At Basecamp, we don’t share calendars. Everyone controls their own calendar, and no one can see anyone else’s calendar. You can’t claim time on anyone else’s calendar, either. Other people’s time isn’t for you — it’s for them. You can’t take it, chip away at it, or block it off. Everyone’s in control of their time. They can give it to you, but you can’t take it from them.

It’s not a special privilege for ownership or the CEO. Everyone controls their own days at Basecamp. Time isn’t a commodity we trade. No one can turn your day into theirs.