We’re all trying to be more productive. For most people, the best way to build productivity into their day is through effective scheduling.
If you are a people manager, there is another layer of complexity: not only do you need to use your time effectively, you also need to ensure that those you manage are being productive while staying motivated, happy and engaged.
That’s no small task.
While the best schedule will be unique to each of us, thinking about whether you are a manager or a maker can help you optimize your calendar.
Maker vs. Manager
Known for co-founding Y Combinator, provider of start-up funding for the likes of Airbnb and Dropbox, Paul Graham argues that there are two types of schedules: maker’s schedules and manager’s schedules.
Managers include executives and bosses, the people typically holding power in an organization.
A manager’s schedule is appointment driven and broken up into discrete intervals of 30 minutes or an hour. The manager role requires oversight of various people and projects and necessitates switching focus and tasks frequently.
When a manager schedules a meeting, it’s simply a question of finding an open time slot.
Makers are people who make things, like writers or programmers, and they often prefer to operate on a schedule divided into half-day units, at least.
It takes time for makers to get into their work – an hour won’t cut it. Work divided into short periods of time will lead to decreased productivity.
Friction between the maker’s schedule and the manager’s schedule comes to a head when scheduling meetings.
Meetings cost makers more, Graham contends. While the manager’s schedule is designed for meetings, for makers a badly timed meeting can disrupt half a day’s work; the smaller chunks of time around the meeting aren’t long enough to do the work that makers need to do.
Because managers are usually the one’s in charge, they can impose their schedules on others. This can lead to frustration on the part of makers.
“I could get so much done if it wasn’t for all these meetings!” is a phrase we’ve all heard from a colleague (or said ourselves). The folks over at Vooza created a spot-on video poking fun of this manager vs. maker meeting divide.
Well-run meetings are essential for both managers and makers, and the maker/manager concept in no way derides their importance, but differences in work styles must be taken into account when scheduling to keep both types productive, engaged and happy – all things that affect the bottom line.
Scheduling for Your Style
Do you thrive on a manager’s schedule or a maker’s schedule? How does your role require that you spend your time?
In reality, even if we would like to be, most people are not pure makers or pure managers but a blend of both.
You may be a maker who needs manager time to tackle e-mails and administrative work, or transitioning from maker to manager as your company grows or you move up the corporate ladder. Or you could be a manager who also needs maker time.
Where you fall on the spectrum can provide insight into the schedule that will work best for you.
Here are some tips to help create your best schedule:
1. Be Intentional.
In a now viral e-mail to his colleagues, Jeremiah Dillon, head of product marketing at Google Apps for Work, discusses the need to establish implementation intention when making space for maker time; if you don’t have concrete periods of time reserved, it won’t happen. Be protective of this time – don’t treat it as a luxury, but as a requirement.
Bonus: Dillon suggests that you may have peak maker energy in the mornings and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
2. Use Your Tools.
Your calendar can take control if you don’t have a system in place to manage your time. Use a scheduling tool so that those you work with know when you are available. Danielle Morrill, CEO and co-founder of Mattermark, uses this time-box method to organize her schedule and balance manager and maker time.
3. Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis.
Know the true cost of a meeting. Whether you are a maker or a manager having a meeting with a maker, ask if the benefit of the meeting is greater than, not only the lost hour in maker time, but also the decreased productivity in the time surrounding the meeting.
Getting the balance of both meetings and maker time right can be especially important for certain workflow styles, such as when using the agile development process
4. Be Respectful. Be a Champion.
Before sending a meeting invitation, ask if the meeting is essential and, if so, can it be scheduled at a time that will be least interruptive to the participants?
If you are a people manager, be a champion for those you manage and make sure others know that certain times are reserved for uninterrupted work (with the exception of true emergencies).
Allow those you manage to provide you with honest feedback about what scheduling styles work best for them.
5. Office Hours.
At Y Combinator they operate on a maker’s schedule but simulate a manager’s schedule by having “office hours”, which are designated meeting times at the end of the day throughout the week.
Grouping meetings together at certain times or on certain days allows for greater stretches of uninterrupted maker time. Consider if this approach will help you or your team be more productive.
You may also want to consider doing a “maker day”, where you don’t hold any meetings one day a week.
Ultimately, finding your best schedule requires the same things as almost everything else: experimentation and time.
Whether you’re a maker, a manager, or somewhere in between, we have solutions for you. Need a meeting room? At iQ we’ve got you covered. Need a quiet space to make stuff happen? You’re covered for that too.