Maker vs. Manager Schedule

Over the last couple of days I've had an interesting realization: My schedule has changed. It's weird, and I don't really know why, but after my brief vacation last week I seem to have very very few meetings scheduled for these upcoming weeks. I think it might have happened unconsciously because I was getting more and more stressed by meetings and started regarding them as interruptions of my day instead of fruitful discussions. Maybe I just started scheduling less meetings subconsciously and said no to more things? 

Today I'd love to dive a bit deeper into solving the puzzle of changing schedules and why meetings make me feel anxious.

I talked about this a couple of days ago with my friend Vivian, who said a very true thing: "Meetings are usually very unproductive. You do small talk, and more talk, and at the end you spent a couple of hours not doing productive work." Puzzle piece no. 1. 

Puzzle piece no. 2 happened a couple of nights ago when my partner David sent me an article by Paul Graham who wrote (back in 2009) about the manager vs. maker schedule

I devoured the article in one go and was like "YES! YES! YES!!!" I had heard of the theory of the manager vs. the maker schedule before - I think the first time when I took over a boss role at a company and got worried that I didn't spend so much time DOING things anymore. When I realized that that was actually not a problem, but that my role was now to help other people do things, I understood that that was because I had shifted from a makers to a manager schedule.

Now, I think, I shifted back. The curious thing though? It's taken me over 9 months to realize it. I think I might have been resisting that realization because subconsciously, I was still valuing the manager schedule more than the maker schedule. Why? My assumption is because we as society usually associate managers with power and makers with ground work. And of course I want to be powerful! 

I'm still at the beginning of understanding how my schedule for this new life that I'm leading needs to look like. But I like to think that understanding that shift back from manager to maker schedule and why I resisted it is the first step.  

I set out to think about the things that I started doing subconsciously and / or need to do more of to accommodate the maker needs in me: 


Blocking out days for creative work.

One of the most powerful insights from Paul Graham's article for me was that makers run on time chunks of at least half a day whereas managers run on hourly intervals. I already started blocking out one day per week for creative work a while ago, but now I'm going to be very conscious of actually keeping to that schedule and maybe even expanding that to two or three days a week.

Making in the process.

Making in the process.


Doing client work in chunks.

This is something I'm so bad at. I tend to do a little bit of client work every day, mostly because I think that their schedule requires it, but maybe that's not even the case? I'd like to try and schedule half a day chunks for client work as well and communicate that very clearly. I think that might be the key of making this work - what do you think?

Also - doing other work in chunks! Like packing up orders :)

Also - doing other work in chunks! Like packing up orders :)


Scheduling meetings at the beginning or the end of my day.

Paul Graham says something very very true about what meetings do to our maker schedule:  

For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.

I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you’re a maker, think of your own case. Don’t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don’t.
— Paul Graham


That explains perfectly why I felt super frazzled and stressed by having meetings in the middle of the day, even if the meeting itself was amazing. I'm going to make a conscious effort to put meetings at the edges of my work day! 


Saying no to things.

Oh boy, this is so hard. I LOVE new projects because of the momentum and creativity and joy that they bring, but I've also realized that I need to prioritize. I'm going to try and actively and consciously ask myself "Do I really want to do this? Does it bring me joy?" for every new opportunity that presents itself. And I'll try not being scared to say no. Which is hard. So hard. 

I do hope that my thoughts on shifting from a manager to a maker schedule and what that meant for me are at least a tiny bit inspiring for you. Maybe take a look at your schedule if you're feeling as frazzled and stressed by it as I was (okay, sometimes still am)?

Also, I love learning about other people's schedule and how they manage this balance of being a maker, but also needing to interact with non-makers (aka have meetings and email and stuff like that) so please do share in the comments your view on this!