Maker's Schedule vs. Manager's Schedule

Image by wwarby

Successful organizations need doers and orchestrators. Unfortunately, a productive schedule usually looks different for each group. Paul Graham of Y Combinator calls this the maker’s schedule vs the manager’s schedule. Here is a summary of his insights:

How the Manager’s Schedule Works

Most bosses love meetings, and their schedule shows it. Their days are often packed with strategy meetings, review meetings, team meetings, performance meetings and so on. For a boss, these meetings make a lot of sense. They view calendars as a series of hourly intervals dedicated to solving problems. Want to meet with someone? Easy, just find an empty slot, schedule them, and you’re done.

How the Maker’s Schedule is Different

For those that regularly make things (musicians, developers, designers, writers, speakers, preachers, etc), working within hourly blocks just doesn’t work well. Most creative and technical projects take at least an hour to just really get started. Consequently, makers typically view their schedules in half day blocks.

Why Meetings Can Be Disastrous to Makers

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.
– Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator

How to Prevent Necessary Meetings from Derailing your Team

Meetings are often necessary and beneficial, but managers must be sensitive to the maker’s schedule. Limit the number of meetings that makers need to attend, and schedule necessary meetings at less disruptive times (very start of the day or over lunch). You’ll have a happier and more productive team.

In contrast, interrupting a creative team with a poorly planned 30 minute meeting could actually cost you days worth of creative man hours in terms of output. It requires compromise, but the results are well worth it.

Reposted from an article I wrote earlier this week on