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Blog post summary: Maker vs. Manager

Someone pointed me to this Maker vs. Manager: How Your Schedule Can Make or Break You post recently. There is no published date, but I don’t think it is new (but it is timeless). It is only a 10 minute read itself, but some notes…

“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.”— Seth Godin, The Dip

Different types of work require different types of schedules, especially when it comes to Managers vs Makers (such as a software developer or a writer).

Maker vs. Manager

Manager: A manager’s day is often sliced up into tiny slots, each with a specific purpose decided in advance. Many of those slots are used for meetings, calls, or emails. Managers spend a lot of time, “putting out fires” and doing reactive work and don’t necessarily need the capacity for deep focus — they primarily need the ability to make fast, smart decisions

Maker: A maker’s schedule is different. It is made up of long blocks of time reserved for focusing on particular tasks. Breaking their day up into slots of a few minutes each would be the equivalent of doing nothing. When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster, restricting the time available for real work. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.

A manager’s job is to manage other people and systems. Their job revolves around organizing other people and making decisions. Many managerial tasks can only occur during face-to-face encounters. We should not be fighting their very existence, but rather using the time spent in them as efficiently as possible.

A maker’s job is to create some form of tangible value. And making anything significant requires time — lots of it.

What if you are a Maker AND Manager?

It is far from unusual for a person’s job to involve both maker and manager duties.
People who successfully combine both schedules do so by making a clear distinction, setting boundaries for those around them, and adjusting their environment in accordance.

The Value of Defining Your Schedule

How often do we think about how our days are actually broken up, about how we choose (or are forced) to segment them? There are two key reasons that the distinction between maker and manager schedules matters for each of us and the people we work with.

  1. Defining the type of schedule we need is more important than worrying about task management or daily habits.
  2. We need to be aware of which schedule the people around us are on so we can be considerate and let them get their best work done.

To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. 

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