maker manager both

Makers and managers, their scheduling and time management needs can be considered as opposites. A maker’s schedule is focused on producing, where the incoming, external distractions need restraint. A manager, instead, must tend to the external inputs with fervour, and delegate them to the makers. A manager is dependant on a maker, but the opposite isn’t always true. In most situations, I believe the ideal position is somewhere between these two roles, in being both and neither.

The key issue in the distinction is reactivity. A maker should build her schedules and routines so that her life requires the least amount of reacting to sudden impulses. Granted, creative work requires some input and inspiration, but it is the mundane and repetitive stimuli a maker could do without. A manager benefits from some organising, filtering, and scheduling of inputs, but not removing them. It is after all, her job to manage them. A manager’s output is not so much dependant on reaching a flow state.

 a maker-manager

We are increasingly becoming self-managing makers. There lies an advantage in removing the maker/manager barrier altogether. The communication between the “two parties” within one’s mind happens instantly, and there are no hidden agendas (save for self deception and other unconscious biases). What this combination requires, is another layer of meta-management.

The best place to start is figuring out the most productive time frame, within the confines of the outside world. A maker is often most productive when no attention is required by others. Risking a communication lag, a maker often needs to shut out from them. A maker, and especially a maker-manager, cannot do this insulation as much, so she might benefit from a time-allocation technique like Pomodoro, or focus apps like Forest and RescueTime. First and foremost, we need proper prioritisation and time management strategies.

A common, repetitive theme in many solutions to life’s problems seems to lie in establishing habits, routines and rituals. Habitually allocating time for the two roles eases the context switch and mental strain on concurrently active issues. The higher-order, meta-management is mainly self-management instead of resource or people management.

 the inevitable struggle

Whatever the strategy, switching between the two roles becomes taxing, quick. Reaching a flow state after interruptions and splintered management tasks is arduous. Management requires generating simultaneous and separate mental connections. Creative work is often the opposite, in which one focuses on some singular whole. Personally, I experience the worst mental drain when acting in both roles simultaneously or even successively.

Because of the arguably more intense burden on the mind, detachment becomes more important than ever. It is easy to second-guess one’s meta-management and the output in the end of the day. The responsibilities and accountability can become vague and fleeting. It’s important no to expect a 100% maker output, at least in terms of quantity. It is only in the quality and the avoided waste that trump the initially perceived quantity and speed. This is a wonderful promise when threatened by regression towards mindless execution.

 maker-management and co-operation

Management in this context can be viewed as self-management or that of other people. In a cooperative situation, an ideal scenario would be teamwork between several of these maker-managers. Because the management responsibilities can be shared, idleness is better avoided and no time needs to be wasted as people can move into another mode when needed. The management tasks can be directed to those not in the zone or a flow state.

Management dispersion and task delegation is a complex and difficult issue. What we need are personal time-boundaries and respect for others’ time. We need rules on when, how and on what grounds we can distract others. Most times asking for help is good for both, but sometimes the distraction is worse for the whole.

I consider myself as a maker-manager of sorts, acting in different roles depending on the current needs. I believe I should first be able to manage my own time, and only then can I hope to manage others’.


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