5 ways to switch from maker to manager—and back again

4 min read
Margaret Kelsey
  •  Dec 1, 2014
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Picture yourself working at your best. You’re in the groove, creating, solving problems. You’re in the flow.

Then, a meeting reminder chimes, alerting you that you have a “quick chat” with someone on your team in 15 minutes. Flow ruined. Even if you could get back to work, what’s the point? The project will take at least another few hours to finish, and you’ll just have to stop again soon.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Designers are makers by definition, but to function in the business world, makers have to adapt to a manager’s schedule—at least part of the time.

Paul Graham’s “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” popularized the idea of the difference between makers and managers, specifically how their schedules are—for the most part—incompatible. So, how can you carve out a maker’s schedule for you and your design teamTwitter Logo, or at least keep the manager’s schedule to a minimum?

1. Ban meetings

Well, not entirely. Instead, designate “no meeting days” or bundle meetings togetherTwitter Logo in either the mornings or the evenings. Let your team turn off notifications and email in order to get big chunks of uninterrupted work hours. If you lead a team, don’t expect an immediate response from your makers, and if you must disrupt a maker’s schedule, make sure it’s absolutely worth the potential loss in productivity.

2. But don’t go radio silent

Be diligent about keeping your previously scheduled check-in times.Twitter Logo Over-communicate in these meetings to make up for the hours you spent heads down. Ask a few extra questions to make sure you haven’t missed any details or changes to the project that happened while you were out of touch.

3. Be wary of the “repeat invite”

Be incredibly intentional when scheduling a meeting, especially when adding in recurring meetings. Click the “repeat” button only as a last resort. Instead, ask yourself if you could share the information another way. If your answer’s “Yes,” figure out a different process to avoid the meeting.

4. Identify flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as:

Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.

Keep tabs on what time you’re most likely to feel that way, and then guard those hours jealously.Twitter Logo

5. Police yourself

Figure out how long your natural maker periods last and when you’re most productive/creative, and schedule meetings around those periods.

Give yourself a break

It’s normal to struggle with switching between these two types of workflows. Give yourself time to see which suggestions work best for you. Before you know it, you’ll be transitioning from maker to manager, and back again, with ease.

Do you have any tips on how to switch between schedules with ease? Tweet them to us with #makerVSmanager to let us know how you do it!

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