On Making vs. Managing, Discipline, and Objectives

Set objectives so you don’t completely sacrifice making for managing

Wow, this is the first post I’ve written on my personal blog in 16 months! Sad.

And this is exactly what this article is going to be about:

  • The reasons why I haven’t blogged in a long time
  • The impact managing has on making
  • Why I’ve been undisciplined
  • Why setting objectives can increase productivity and output

I’ve thought a lot about this recently, and I apologize in advance for puking it all out in this post. But I hope it’s somewhat cohesive.

Let’s go. 

Maker’s vs. Manager’s Schedule

Paul Graham wrote a seminal blog post called “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” that highlights how makers, such as programmers and writers, need large chunks of time to be productive. Managers, on the other hand, can easily schedule meetings (many times unnecessarily) that can disrupt makers’ schedules to the point of wasting entire days.  

Throw in messaging apps like Slack and Discord and you have an absolute productivity disaster. 

Recently I’ve been mostly on a manager’s schedule, with much less control over my calendar and much lower productivity in making and creating. This is due to a couple of factors. 

Factors that Impact Maker Productivity

There are a few factors that have impacted my productivity in making. 

The first is where my team is based

I’m typically at my best writing and creating in the morning, and managing and taking meetings in the afternoon. I can be a maker in the afternoon if I have to, but it’s just more difficult for me to focus for an extended period of time after lunch.

Remote work now being the norm and crypto being a global industry with distributed teams hasn’t done my maker schedule any favors.

For my current role at Panther, most of the team is based in the UK and other parts of Europe. This means that my mornings are their afternoons, so many meetings are held earlier in my day. Combine that with my morning duties as a human and dog dad, and that’s a recipe for low maker productivity. 

In my prior role at UTU, the team was based in Kenya, which is an even greater time difference than western Europe. I had to take many calls as early as 6AM, which wreaked havoc on my ideal maker schedule (not to mention my beauty sleep!). 

Before UTU, I worked with Meter for most of 2020 and into early 2021. The team was based in Silicon Valley, which is 3 hours behind Eastern time. This time difference fit much better with my ideal maker schedule, and it showed. 

I wrote many blog posts for Meter on Medium and I even wrote an eBook about stablecoins! Of course this was part of my job, but my creative output was significantly higher during this time. I also wrote on my personal blog more frequently back then.

Another major factor is the size of your team.

At Meter, I was the only business team member outside of the CEO. So I was forced to be a creator. Combine this forcing function with the nice schedule setup I mentioned earlier, and my creative productivity skyrocketed. 

At UTU, I had a Head of Marketing who worked for me. She was a solid writer and enjoyed it, so she took the lead on blog creation. I did do a bunch of video interviews with partners and team members, but that just felt a bit different than writing. 

Now at Panther, I manage a team of six, including two content writers. So I’m doing much more leading and guiding than creating. 

The Maker’s Death Spiral

A death spiral can be defined as a series of deteriorating events that lead to catastrophe.

I wouldn’t call me creating less a catastrophe; that’s a bit dramatic. But I feel like if I don’t create consistently, I’m more likely to continue to not create.

Being mostly on a manager’s schedule has negatively impacted my maker discipline. My schedule is so dependent on others, and I’m controlled by my calendar instead of the other way around. 

And this has led to me essentially surrendering to my manager schedule, which results in not not creating. And by not creating, it’s as if I’ve almost forgotten how to create. And then I find reasons not to create, and I don’t create for even longer.

Death spiral.

That’s where objective setting comes into play. 

Setting Objectives to Achieve More Discipline

Back in 2016, I set an objective to blog for 30 consecutive days.

I wound up blogging for 40 days straight. 

I could have just set a goal of “blogging more often”. But by setting a specific objective of blogging for 30 consecutive days, I quantified what success looked like. I met this objective, and then some. 

I recently returned from an amazing 3.5 week vacation in London, Bratislava, South of France, and Paris. I thoroughly enjoyed eating amazing food, having dessert after every meal, and consuming many adult beverages everyday. 

This trip did not do any favors for my weight and waistline. So upon my return, I set an objective to not drink for 30 days. 

My friends asked me why I don’t just try to drink less. 

I literally drank at least 5 drinks a day for 24 days straight. Compared to that, anything would constitute “drinking less”.

My friends are pricks and continue to invite me to drink with them, but I am fending them off. 

If you set an objective and publicize it, you’re more likely to achieve it. 

My Creator Objectives

I don’t want to overcommit, but I’m now setting an objective of blogging at least once a month. I’m sure the articles I write won’t be 1000-word posts like this one, but I aim to be more consistent in getting my thoughts (as dumb as they may be) out there on this blog.

I’ll also set a loose objective of posting to Twitter and LinkedIn once every work day. 

Let’s see how this goes.

Over to You 

What are your thoughts about making vs. managing?

Have you set specific objectives for creating? 

I’d love to hear from you! Reply in the comments or on this tweet:

Thanks for reading!

P.S. I gotta say, it feels good to publish this post. Hopefully it’ll kickstart a nice maker run for me.

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