I’ll admit, this is a rather impromptu blog. I usually painfully procrastinate and overwrite them (not that you’d notice I’m sure), but this one comes as a reaction to an apple-to-the-head revelation to an ageing problem I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on.
Barely three hours have passed since my man-crush on Rory Sutherland (Ogilvy Vice Chairman and all-round marketing genius) deepened. Some may call it a one and a half hour Marketing Meetup Webinar, I, on the other hand, prefer to call it ninety minutes of sheer unadulterated marketing and behavioural sciences porn. Like a naughty schoolboy rotating the centrefold of Playboy, I found myself saying “how does he do that?”.
I’ll save the highlights of said lock-down webinar for another blog (well, a blog I’ll likely overwrite and then decide not to publish), but one of Rory’s tips – trust me, there were many – was to read Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule by Paul Graham. And this is where my eureka moment cometh.
I’ve been running Bravo for almost three years. I’ve been a Creative Director for almost a decade and an aspiring Creative Director for twice that. Aspirations aside, apart from beating myself with the ‘why didn’t I think of that’ creative stick, I’ve always given myself a hard time about my time-management. Frankly. I’ve always wanted to be more efficient.
Whether writing video scripts, producing films, creating marketing and advertising campaigns or doing a ‘Rory’ and rethinking children’s mental health, I’ve always wanted to get more done. And the problem has been further compounded since running my own agency.
And then I read Paul’s short essay.
There it was in Tahoma 12pt.
The ceasefire to the mental war I’ve been fighting for umpteen years.
The battle of Maker vs Manager. And their polar opposite schedules.
As soon as the words lept into my push-me-pull you brain, I realised I wasn’t terrible at time-keeping. The culprit has been a Jekyll & Hyde split personality between Maker (Creative Director) and Manager (Creative Agency Founder).
I’ll let Paul take it from here…
One reason programmers dislike meetings so much is that they’re on a different type of schedule from other people. Meetings cost them more.
There are two types of schedule, which I’ll call the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour.
When you use time that way, it’s merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you’re done.
Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.
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. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.
For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.
I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you’re a maker, think of your own case. Don’t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don’t. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.
Each type of schedule works fine by itself. Problems arise when they meet. Since most powerful people operate on the manager’s schedule, they’re in a position to make everyone resonate at their frequency if they want to. But the smarter ones restrain themselves, if they know that some of the people working for them need long chunks of time to work in.
As is Paul’s wish, this is just an extract. Click here for the full essay.
A huge thanks to Rory for his wisdom. And an even bigger round of applause to the incredible Marketing Meetup Founder Joe Glover for not only running brilliant events – even positively lovely virtual events in the face of adversity – but for being a great friend too. Btw mate, can I borrow your hair clippers? Oh, and do you want to be a RightSaidFred tribute act or Mitchell Brothers? You can be Phil!
Baz Richardson is the Founder & Creative Director of