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On makers and managers and how to manage your time better

I just found a key insight into how to manage my time better. The funny thing is that I've been adapting my schedule to these recommendations for a few years already while only operating on an inkling, a sense of how compartmentalisation might be key to balancing the many different aspects of what I do for a living.

Thing is, both in my personality and in the jobs I do there is a kind of dichotomy: I'm both a thinker and someone who gets things done, both introvert and extrovert, both a columnist and a fixer - and switching between those two modus operandi can be difficult. I wish there was some magical button I could press, but I've yet to find it (though in its absence, I've found that deadlines tend to do the trick).

This is why something really clicked into place for me when I read this article by Paul Graham on Manager's Schedule and Maker's Schedule which Adriana recommended to me recently. Tiffani Jones, a webwriter, describes the difference between the two schedules well:

Manager types are accustomed to a certain way of working. They respond quickly to emails, crisply prioritize (and eviscerate) their inboxes, plan meetings, and generally just get stuff done. Heap a pile of tasks in front of them, and they will energetically destroy that heap, come hell or high water. This describes me in my natural working state.

Things change, though, when it’s time to get creative. When writing, I need to sit for long, uninterrupted periods and think things through. I need freedom for my mind to wander toward new & better ways of phrasing a particular sentence. And I need to actually relish in the creative process, or my work will come out all crappy.

The problem is, switching from “manager” to “creative worker” can make a person crazy. If you don’t play your cards right, you end up in a scary ADD shitstorm, marooned between your inbox, Twitter, and a blank page. Ugh.

She also offers some good tips on how to manage this, do check out her full post here. The funny thing is, when I was in PR I used to get up at 4-5am to get some uninterrupted blogging time before the phone started ringing at 9am. Even when I worked as an inhouse journalist I often got up that early to get some quiet time to sift through my RSS-feeds, reflect and blog before I got into work. But now that I'm full-time self-employed I've not been by far as efficient in dividing my schedule into "writing time" and "fixing time" - and when I don't do this it leads to procastrination, general inefficiency and frustration.

It's all the more pertinent for me now that I divide my time between working as a media commentator (the creator role), journalist (can be both roles depending on the assignment) and being the head of The Norwegian Online News Association (def. a manager's role). Only last week I was working as a fixer for BBC, which resulted in this report from Norway, and I Iove that stuff.

But I also love trying to figure out, and put words to, what moves the world and what makes people tick: I live in the tension between those two states of mind and would get frustrated if I didn't find an outlet for both these sides - so I will take Paul Graham's thoughts and Tiffani Jones' advice on this to heart and start planning my weeks better. Now for some writing time...


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