Optimizing Your Schedule: Practical Strategies for Makers and Managers

Introduction

Hey everyone, welcome back to Business Bites! Last time, we talked all about setting goals and aligning your day-to-day with your bigger vision to boost productivity and achieve success. If you missed it, catch up here. Today, we're diving into something that's crucial for all of us—managing our time better. Whether you're a creator or a boss, how you plan and prepare your schedule really makes a difference. Let's get into some smart strategies that can help you make the most of your time.

Navigating the Maker's and Manager's Schedules

 

Paul Graham coined the terms maker’s schedule and manager’s schedule. Understanding and navigating the complex push-pull between these schedules is crucial for your success, your team's success, and your company's success. Let’s explore practical strategies you can experiment with to create more time for what matters most.

DALL·E 2024-06-24 20.23.47 - An image of a workspace divided into two sides. One side is organized and clean with a calendar, time blocks, and a to-do list. The other side is clut

Balancing Deep Work and Management Tasks

As leaders, we constantly face the challenge of balancing deep, creative work (maker's schedule) with operational, people, and tactical tasks (manager's schedule). 

The maker’s schedule is about immersion, requiring long, uninterrupted periods to dive deep into innovation and problem-solving. 

In contrast, the manager's schedule is fragmented, filled with meetings, emails, and on-the-spot decisions.

Strategies for Effective Time Management

Balancing is a verb, not a noun. 

Picture a tightrope walker who is perpetually leaning one way or the other and balancing with each step forward. Balancing your schedule is crucial. Employing specific strategies to enhance your effectiveness is essential.

You can test drive 1 of these 5 balancing strategies that have helped my balancing act.

Embrace Time Blocking

Allocating specific blocks of time for deep work is essential.

Consider dedicating your mornings to creative tasks and afternoons to managerial duties.

Alternatively, consider making Monday, Wednesday, and/or Friday your manager's schedule. Have blocks of recurring internal and client meetings on those days. This approach frees up Tuesday, Thursday, and/or another day for extended deep work blocks and epic Crush It Days (more on those in the next Business Bites…).

Treat your time blocks as non-negotiable appointments—key opportunities for momentum and breakthroughs on What’s Important Now (WIN)!

Pro Tip: If you find yourself struggling to focus alone on What's Important Now (WIN) in these blocks alone, then invite a trusted colleague to “cowork with you on Zoom” and hold you accountable to working on, not in, the business

No Meetings Before 11AM

Sounds ridiculous or impossible? Then you definitely need to try it!

Imagine a world where you carved out the early morning for the impactful work only you can do to move your business forward.

You don’t have to join Robin Sharma and me in the 5AM club. And family comes first, so plan for 1-2 hours of morning routine to have breakfast together and get the kids off to school. This gives you 1.5-4 hours of deep work before 11AM.

As soon as your first meeting of the day starts, you're going to get sucked into manager mode for the rest of the day and forfeit your deep work time in your zone of genius doing what only you can do.

Test Drive: Pick one day next week to reschedule any meetings before 11AM to later in the day/week and see what it feels like to create space to start your day. Worth a shot?

Schedule Your First Meeting at 4:30PM and Work Backward

Our energy naturally gets depleted over the course of the day, so why not protect your green zone (high energy) for what matters most to you and use your yellow and red zones (lower energy) for solving other people's problems.

One way to deploy this strategy is to default to scheduling recurring and new meeting requests as late in the day as possible. Start with 4:30pm, then 4pm, then 3:30pm…and gradually work your way back toward lunchtime.

This extends and expands the first two strategies of time blocking and no early meetings to give you a bigger maker's schedule.

Pro Tip: Self-assess how many back-to-back meetings you can handle before you need a 30-minute break to catch your breath, and then add a 30-minute HOLD on your calendar. You can also set your Calendly to 20-minute meetings to create a 10-minute boundary you can enforce for fast follow ups, bathroom breaks, and drink/snack refills.

Your Morning Starts the Night Before with 3-2-1-Sleep

Continuing with the work backward theme, your day starts the night before. What time you wake up depends on what time you go to bed. If you want to get up at 5:55AM or 6:55AM and need ~7.5 hours of sleep, then get into bed at 10-11PM. 

Try this routine

3 hours before bed – no food – your sleep suffers when you're still digesting

2 hours before bed – no work – shutdown and create a Map for tomorrow with the Frog you are going to eat for breakfast

1 hour before bed – no screens – try talking to your family or reading a paper book

5 minutes before bed – listen to a meditation – program your subconscious mind to solve problems while you sleep

Delegate Wisely: Who Not How

You don't have enough hours in the day to do all the things in all parts of your business. You need a team of experts, who are smarter than you to delegate to with confidence.

When expensive problems inevitably arise, shift your mindset to ask “Who can solve this?” Not “How can I squeeze more time into my schedule to solve this?”

If you're missing expertise or the right Who today, it doesn't require 3-6 months of recruiting and interviewing with tons of time and effort to find the right Who.

After a 45-minute meeting with me, we can introduce you to three vetted fractional executives to interview in one week and be ready to start the next week.

Suddenly, you go from being the overscheduled linchpin required to close each deal to spending 1 hour/week with your fractional sales executive, who shows you the increased velocity through your sales funnel and new customers' revenue in your bank account.

Transformation: Your mind and your calendar will expand when you realize you can shift from needing 4 hours of maker time (when?!?) for deep work to solve a problem with brute force to only needing 1 hour/week of manager time (any afternoon you want) to meet with your fractional executive for transparent status updates and reliable solutions. 

Conclusion: Adaptive Time Management Strategies

Change is the only constant in leadership. Regularly reassess the effectiveness of your time management strategies, making adjustments as needed to maintain peak productivity. What worked well a few years ago, may not be the best plan for this season of life or stage of business growth.

Balancing your maker and manager schedules doesn't just increase personal efficiency. You are enhancing team dynamics and the overall health of your organization. Finding your rhythm, and helping your team find theirs, boosts collective productivity and fosters a culture of respect, understanding, and peak performance.

Are you ready to master the art of balancing your maker and manager schedules to drive your business forward? Let's chat about how to develop customized strategies tailored to your unique needs. Schedule an intro call today and take the first step towards transforming your leadership and productivity.

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