Sometimes, humour makes you think. Emily Kager is making Tiktoks mocking some of the absurdity seen in software engineering. She recently made this one about software engineers asked to focus on multiple things at once, which is obviously the opposite of focus.

Software engineers are often seen complaining about interruptions (say, being multitasked too much), how they break their flow and destroys their productivity. But, as also noted snarkily by Emily, this is nothing special about software, it applies to way more domains, and probably any creative tasks. Nevertheless, programmers widely profess how special they are and how their precious time should not be interrupted by pesky meetings(*).

This, in my mind, comes from this idea that the only important measure of productivity is how much features, tickets, or lines of codes you are treating per day. Once you stated that, it becomes obvious that this is not the only valuable productivity measure. Software is only valuable if it serves a purpose, and this purpose comes from people that you have to meet and discuss with.

Interrupting your work for meetings and quick chats is how you do that. And no, not all interactions can be done in writing. Some users just do not write so well for example, or need to show you their problem.

And yes, obviously, there can be too much meetings. I just think the tolerance to meetings of many engineers is way too low, and that they are consequently creating less value than they could.

(*)I do that too

P.S.: since writing this, Emily Kager did a second Tiktok on the subject, and it’s quite funny too: