I read an essay last week that was written in 2009. It’s called Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule written by Paul Graham and it’s my new battle cry. All creatives need to read this. All people who work with creatives need to read this. Everyone. Read this.
Basically, the author talks about the difference between Makers (creatives, but in his case he’s talking about programmers ) and Bosses (or anyone who works in hourly increments) and focuses on how meetings cost creatives more because it’s an interruption in their flow. I’d like to go further than just meetings–anything that is an outward demand for attention can cost a creative more when they are in the midst of their work…
“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 read it a few times, told my sister about it, then had Chad read it so that he could finally understand why when I’m deep in my work, a normal interruption like a scheduled meeting or a phone call can put me in a funk and ruin me. Even something as small as a text message buzzing through on vibrate (that’s my fault because that means I accidentally have my phone close by and I don’t have the discipline not to read it right then) but if it happens it messes with me because it stops the flow of creativity.
I took the week off last week, something I had to make happen especially after my book release at the end of April. Since I didn’t have the money to go on a beach vacation, I allowed myself to do whatever I wanted for the entire week. I pictured myself at the movies every day, eating chocolate ice cream for every meal. That’s not what I ended up wanting to do.
I didn’t crack my email open for a full seven days. I think that’s a record for me for at least SEVEN years. I had one urgent thing pop up and guess what, they found me anyway! I LOVED my staycation, I read parts of 8 or 10 different books, took 3 naps on three different days, listened to podcasts, took a ton of notes, went thrifting/antiquing three times, once alone, once with my mom and once with Chad.
I made dinner most nights because I wanted to–the other nights Chad cooked or we went out, only washed my hair once and even got up at 4:39 one morning.
I had the urge to work on blog stuff and future planning for Nesting Place and I let myself do that because this staycation was about only doing things that were life-giving to me. And this online space is life-giving in so many ways.
My biggest take away, was that I realized how much I LOVE my work. I worked here at Nesting Place for a few years without any income, and if it all stopped, I’d keep doing this (only I wouldn’t be able to devote as much time because I’d be selling furniture or flowers or baking cookies on the side to help with our income).
I also realized how much I’ve allowed some parts of this online world to interrupt my days, boss me around, and steal my joy and creativity. Email is the biggest culprit but there are others–usually the other come about via email. I get a lot of email but it’s still my problem to deal with and I’m the kind of person who hates having a list of things unchecked or something big looming in my inbox so in the past my default has been to check it many times a day so I can respond and get it off my list. BAD IDEA. I have to stop that.
My addiction to checking email has caused me to be less creative, I’m 100% sure of it.
“I know from experience that any problem found in the inbox will linger on the brain for hours or days after you shut-down the computer, rendering “free time” useless with preoccupation. It’s the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity. Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.”
I thought a lot about my work and my personality and here’s what I considered, it’s a truthful list of what is and isn’t life-giving for me right now, it doesn’t mean I’m only doing the good and not doing the bad, it’s a tool to help me work smarter…
Parts of my work that are life-giving:
- creative planning (funnest thing ever!)
- writing posts when I feel I have something worth saying (I’ve learned not to hit publish unless it’s worth someone spending their time to read, I really don’t ever want to waste my time or yours)
- thinking about future gatherings here at the barn (ahhhh!! I cannot wait!)
- considering blog mentoring and what that means (this makes me nervous in a good way)
- instagram (my favorite social media!)
- making dinner (unless it’s 4:30 and our fridge is empty)
- waking up at 4:40 and writing (yes I am an insane person)
- cleaning my house (on my own terms, again with the insanity)
- doing projects in our home (duh)
- learning more about business, blogging, mentoring, creativity, intentionality (I love reading books and blogs and learning from smart people, I consider it part of my job, to keep learning how to do this well)
Parts of my work that are dreaded, burdensome, and creativity killers:
- EMAIL (satan)
- facebook (spawn of satan)
- texting (I know, I’m a crazy person, I have no idea what is wrong with me)
- phone messages (I solved that long ago and keep my inbox full so that I don’t have a bunch of to-dos in my messages any more, guess what, no one has died, people who know me and really need me, text me)
- scheduling phone & TV interviews for my book (or over the past 18 months just any assignment that would pop up that needed to be done, make a webpage, a video, write a bio, back cover, edit stuff, write the book :)–it’s all great stuff and comes with the territory–which is great, I have a book! I just didn’t realize what it would cost me as a creative. I don’t mind the work itself it’s the planning, anticipating and wrecking up of my day as a MAKER that cause these extra things to take over. My day is almost shot when I have to do this stuff and FINALLY I understand why after reading this article.
I’m not saying Makers should never take part in the things that are the creativity killers for them, that’s impossible. We have to do them intentionally.
If my MAIN work is as a Maker — a content creator, a DIYer, a planner, creative, deep thinker, observer, learner, slow living wife, mom, sister, friend and creative home blogger I have no choice but to protect myself as much as possible from the creativity killers. Otherwise I’ll do every interview, promptly answer all my emails every day forever, and never have another blog post or painted wall or fantastic idea again in my life. Is that what I want?
It’s becoming clearer every day that the price I pay for trying to attend to even just all the good things is my joy and creativity. Everything cannot be done. Or addressed. Or even acknowledged. This is a new thing from me as a person. It’s crept up slowly but now it slapped me in the face.
And more and more of us are feeling that way.
Just being a part of this wonderful online world can lead to lots of distraction.
And SO many good and wonderful things.
Too many for any one person.
We have to choose.
I’ve learned that I am the ONLY person who will protect my own creativity and livelihood. I am the only one who will protect this community at Nesting Place. I will fiercely watch over this place and I’m sure I’ll do it all wrong sometime but this space is worth it. The very thing that makes me so good at my job is the very thing that makes me a weirdo in the real world. My apologies to all humans that have to deal with me for anything other than finding encouragement in your home, because that’s my one sweet spot. I’m the worst at the rest of this stuff. I’m trying to learn balance and be true to myself and my giftings.
I’m learning what it means to be intentional with both my life-givers and creativity-killers. I don’t have a lot of answers but I no longer see the personality and scheduling ability of a Maker as a weakness.
Here’s to the saying of the NO from Makers everywhere in order to protect our art.
May you do so boldly.