Maker’s schedule vs manager’s schedule

In 2009, Paul Graham wrote an article called Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule, where he described the two different styles of work and elaborated on the conflict between the two schedules that happened when managers and leaders expected makers to comply with their style of working. Let’s start with understanding Paul Graham’s definition of the two schedules: 

The maker’s schedule

The maker’s schedule allows long and uninterrupted chunks of focus time to allocate to core tasks. This schedule leads to what Cal Newport calls “deep work”, where a creator/maker is able to focus many hours on a  task, performing at peak productivity, without any disturbances. 

The manager’s schedule

On the other hand, the manager’s schedule is designed to slot in many one-hour meetings. Managers and bosses often have hourly time slots that people can schedule meetings at – be it responding to questions, planning strategies, or collaborating with others, etc. Managers’ productivity peaks when they are able to lead and manage the people under them reporting to them, often involving a lot of outreach and collaboration. 

In his article, Graham says that explains the difference between the two schedules in order to help leaders understand the different workstyles, therefore, leading to reduced conflicts and collisions. And this has never been more important than it is now, as we radically and rapidly transform the workplace to become more distributed and hybrid. 

The threat to maker’s schedules in the new normal

The hybrid and remote workplace is built on the foundation of virtual meetings and instant communication since these processes lend to every business process, be it onboarding new talent, planning and launching new products, building teams, and ensuring business continuity. These virtual meetings causing the collision between the schedules of makers and managers, oftentimes demanding that makers oblige to managers’ schedules.   

Unfortunately, meetings are a risk to makers’ time, productivity, and satisfaction. Research from apa.org shows that it takes at least 25 minutes to get into a state of focussed work and flow and any context switches affect an individual’s productivity, leading to up to a 40% dip in productivity. 

In addition to risking a loss in productivity, when creators have to conform to a manager’s schedule, they lose the time needed to create and become unsatisfied. Sometimes, the lack of time to complete projects leads them to work extra hours and can cause burnout. 

This is why makers dread meetings. Many engineers, developers, and writers say that even a single meeting at 2 PM would lead them to not start a project at 12 PM because they know they cannot start a project unless they have long and uninterrupted work time.  

Finding Middle Ground

Since work cannot carry on without thriving virtual communication and collaboration, it can also not be successful unless makers produce quality work. When engineers have long, uninterrupted maker’s time for deep work, they produce great code, with lesser bugs, and lesser missed edge cases. This in turn leads to better team outcomes. It is hence extremely important that organizations build schedules that allow makers their time for deep work so that they can create meaningful work.

Managers and leaders must adopt practices and processes that optimize maker time for their team members. Here are some opportunities for managers to define a successful middle ground: 

Mindful meetings 

Start by improving the quality of your meetings. Which meetings are necessary? Who needs to attend these meetings? What is the meeting agenda? Answering these questions can be a great start to making meetings work. Also, make meeting agendas compulsory and encourage early sharing of agendas so that all attendees can be well-prepared to contribute productively. 

Adopt hybrid meeting etiquettes- be mindful of employee time zones, on or off-site locations, and work-life balance into consideration. Most importantly, when a meeting involves a maker, schedule all meetings to the beginning or the end of a workday so that they can focus through the rest of the time. Another great opportunity is to identify complete meeting free days so that makers have the whole day to create.

Better async work 

Asynchronous work allows employees the freedom to schedule focus time when they feel most productive while mindfully allocating time for collaborative work at other hours. Async work facilitates deep work which leads to lesser context switches due to interruptions and this can help the culture of the team to evolve into one that is respectful of the makers’ work style. 

Enable focus time and deep work

Managers should stay aware of the many different work styles and human interpersonal complexities that exist in their teams and allow flexibility to accommodate the different work modes. Particularly when working with makers, enable and protect the maker time for employees so that they can bring their best creativity to their work. This will increase individual productivity and also the team’s output. 

Prioritize productivity over presenteeism

Several makers often become “invisible”, buried under long periods of quiet time while working on one project. This work style can lead to the maker going unnoticed and unappreciated or even unrewarded at the workplace, especially in the remote workplace. Managers should build a culture of visibility using data in the hybrid and remote workplace that encourages employees to focus on productivity without being preoccupied with the need to project presenteeism.   

Work analytics for the Future of Work

For software developers, metrics such as quality of code, speed of delivery, and cycle time are the most commonly used indicators of productivity. To produce good quality code, developers need long stretches of maker’s time. Managers can use workplace data from their team’s calendar and meeting metrics to understand their team’s focus time, maker’s time, and collab time.

This data can help managers measure how much time their team members are able to spend on focused work without being interrupted. Data insights into meeting metrics can help managers structure better mindful meetings enhancing available maker’s time. Industry benchmarks indicate that successful engineering teams have 70% of the workday as maker’s time and this is a good benchmark for managers to measure and manage.

Collaboration analytics can help managers get insights into the workplace in which employees collaborate. Analyze how teams communicate and collaborate to build a successful schedule of deep work for makers. Identifying interruptions can help managers gauge how much makers’ time their team members get and help to improve employee engagement, performance, well-being, and productivity.

Hatica helps improve makers’ time by tracking the extent of interruptions teammates are subject to due to meetings, communication, and collaboration requests. These insights can provide into available maker time and what causes interruptions, allowing managers to identify and fix issues thereby optimizing maker time. 

💡 Hatica’s work analytics platform equips engineering managers with data about their team’s available makers’ time and provides visibility into factors that fragment makers’ time such as meeting and communication load. Come, take a look at Hatica.io!

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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