In Ask Our Gurus

One of the biggest challenges in workplaces today is finding the balance between maker and manager schedules. Each schedule has a different mindset, and switching those mindsets can be stressful and inefficient if it happens too often. Yet each schedule is important for a company like ours to function.

We came up with a way to have the best of both worlds.

A Maker Is Someone Who Creates

You’ve probably heard the term ‘maker’ used a lot, especially as it has gained popularity over the past few years. We’re guessing that you also don’t exactly know what a maker is.

A maker is someone who has a creative job – for example, a writer, a developer, or a designer. As the name suggests, we make things.

The Difference Between a Maker and a Manager Is How They Work

A maker operates in a different mode – we need time to visualize and create. Interruptions to our day can throw off our whole process, which can in turn throw off how efficiently the entire team completes tasks, particularly if they are waiting for content or designs.

A Maker’s Schedule Is Divided Into Bigger Sections of Time

A maker needs to have lots of uninterrupted time dedicated to pure creation. Each disruption causes our brains to switch gears. According to Gloria Marks, a Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, her study on interrupted workflow revealed that it takes people an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on a task.

If it takes about a half hour to get into or re-enter a ‘creative mode’, another two or three hours to create the content, design, or program, and time to proof and make changes, that’s easily a whole morning. Depending on the size of the project, our day can quickly disappear. We can’t always afford interruptions.

Our Creative Director, Gurjot, is one of our team members who needs a maker’s schedule. “Good design requires strategic thinking and that requires time and a schedule without interruptions or distractions. When I’m working on a concept design, I usually block off at least 80% of my day. The remaining 20% is for mental breaks and addressing urgent issues. This breakdown gives me the freedom to be creative.”

Jeremiah, an EnvisionUP developer, is in the same boat when it comes to working creatively. “When I sit down to work on a new website, I have to determine what goal I’m going to aim for within the next 3 or 4 hours, so that I can focus my attention. Constantly leaving and then coming back to the project will lead to lost time trying to remember where I left off, and what I have to finish – especially if the interruptions are for a different project entirely.”

A Manager’s Schedule Is Broken Up Into Smaller Time Slots

In contrast, a manager’s schedule is most often broken into easily digestible chunks of time that can easily accommodate meetings, reports, and other managerial tasks.

Managers need to be able to show results to the clients, which means that they need to be able to talk to the makers about their progress and expected deadlines.

As you know, makers are not big fans of this. We can’t make much progress if we are constantly having to stop and give progress reports.

It becomes a maker vs. manager environment, and that’s not we wanted at EnvisionUP. We always want to start, work on, and finish projects as a team.

We Realized There Was a Different Way to Work

Our goal is to provide high-quality, efficient results for our clients, but we knew that we couldn’t constantly be having progress meetings that split our time into chunks that were too short to create anything.

We also couldn’t shut ourselves in our creative spaces for hours on end without giving our project managers updates. We understand that there are certain meetings we need to be a part of.

So instead of choosing one or the other, as so often happens in the workplace, we created a balance between the makers and the managers that would give everyone what they needed.

We Use Structured Meeting Times and a Project Management Tool

We came up with an alternative, cutting-edge system that allows the makers to make and the managers to keep their fingers on the heartbeat of the projects without causing unnecessary interruptions to anyone’s workflow.

We use pre-planned, structured meetings times each week where we go through each person’s schedule to get a sense of what projects are on deck, what is a priority, and how long we expect to work on things in a project management program called teamwork.com.

Teamwork allows us to organize tasks, track our hours, and easily communicate with one another

We do our best to make sure that each staff member’s day is 60-70% planned on Teamwork. The remaining 30-40% is for unscheduled emergencies, or tasks that take more time than originally estimated.

Teamwork is great for managers and makers alike. As makers log their hours or take notes, managers are kept up to date without needing to arrange a face to face meeting. It also gives us the ability to work during the times that suit us best. For instance, some of our staff come in as early as 6:30 a.m. because that is when they are most productive.

Every other day we gather for a quick check-in using Teamwork, which causes the least amount of disruption. We use these meetings to rebalance schedules and have open discussions about the tasks at hand.

Of course, we’re not perfect. We still have meetings, but we try to limit them to only ones that are absolutely necessary.

Using this alternative method is what makes our company highly productive and able to provide our clients with the many services we offer.

Our Schedule Let’s Us Be Cutting-Edge, Creative, and Efficient

Being a cutting-edge internet marketing business isn’t about sacrificing one schedule for another. “It’s about recognizing that there is possibly a better way to work,” our founder Todd explains.

This better way to work assures that all our projects are completed efficiently, by people who are working in the best way possible.

See Examples of Our Work >

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