Why the World Needs the Makers to Say No Boldly

shop the yard

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.

canvas via naptime diaries

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.

view from our yard

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.

instagram, view from our driveway

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.

Here’s what Tim Ferris says about just checking your inbox real quick :

“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.

makers, say no boldly

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  1. Wow! I needed this post… I really thought I was the only one who had those creative killers. Email & Facebook make me feel not good enough because I’m always behind. Thank you for sharing this, it’s the perfect post for my monday. <3 I hope you have a great week!! xx

  2. What an encouraging and beautiful post….The BEST yet! Thank you so much!

  3. Yes! I hear ya girl!! And blog mentoring??? From you???? Sign me up!!!!! ~Kim

  4. Read your words and simply breathed a deep sigh from understanding.

    Read Paul’s essay and….. wow-that explains a lot. I so often have wondered what is wrong with me that I seem to need to manage my days with entire days given to what I now know to call the ‘managers schedule’, so that I can have entire days for my natural ‘makers schedule’. I knew this about me, but didn’t understand it. Now, I can move from frustration that this is me, to embracing that this is simply me!

  5. Yes, yes, yes!! This all makes so much sense to me. Thank you :)

  6. I loved this post. It is so true! I often thought I was a procrastinator or that I just wasn’t motivated, until I realized the things that were stopping me in my tracks and making me less productive were all of the creativity robbers you mentioned. I am trying to be much more intentional about when and where I do those things and giving myself the freedom to create more.
    And, you are in good company, I typically write all blog posts around 4:00 in the morning. (It’s the only time my house is truly quiet:))
    Thanks for being a continued source of inspiration.

  7. I am so with you on this and I am so with you on your life-giving activities (except I am up at 5:40 not 4:50). We tend to let so many insignificant interruptions affect our productivity and creative thinking. I used to respond to every email because I thought I was being professional but realized that I could spend hours doing that on something I am not even interested in. Thanks for the essay suggestion – off to read it!

  8. Sherri S says

    Thanks for the great post and book recommendation.
    from a fellow “maker”.

  9. What an interesting post. I too feel very blocked and irritated by interruptions and meetings. How interesting that there’s a reason! I’ll be coming back to this post for many more references and readings, I’m sure.

  10. Beautifully said. The discipline to say no to the good things to embrace the things we are gifted to share is important. Thank you so much for caring enough to say the hard things, the ones that mend our hearts and open our minds. xo ~Sweetie

  11. Thank you for this. I am trying to dig out from depression caused by being a creative stuck in a highly regimented environment. This post and the attached article gave me some great tools to work with. You were truly inspired to share here. Thanks,
    The Other Marian

  12. (thank you) x (1 million)

  13. …….and here I thought I was just an impatient, ill Witchy-Poo! Thank you!

  14. Since I’ve been an adult (which is a pretty long time now) I have let all kinds of things interrupt my creative flow. I have always tried to fit my creative ventures in the spaces where I wasn’t needed for something or by someone. Consequently, I haven’t grown creatively like I would like to, but instead have been frustrated and unfulfilled :(

    • ” I have always tried to fit my creative ventures in the spaces where I wasn’t needed for something or by someone. ”

      This, Rhondi, this is EXACTLY what I have done, and you put it so simply. Well said. Let’s stop together.

  15. Is it any wonder why I feel so dull after perusing Facebook or checking my email “real quick” yet again. Thank you for sharing this insightful essay and your thoughts. I now understand why I am having difficulty starting creative projects since I started a part time job outside my home. The days and weeks are fragmented beyond belief. Now, to somehow manage the insanity!

  16. Thank you for this post. I realize I am not alone. I find myself wasting a lot of time on email and I’m an easily distracted person. Email is like laundry, my inbox is always full. I’m definitely going to check out the essay. I came across your blog through the summer home tour and love it :)

  17. David and I had a conversation last night about THIS VERY THING. I totally resent scheduled activities if it’s not something relational. Also, I cannot write in short bursts. I can’t. I hate it and it makes me sad. But this past Saturday I went to Panera in the morning and wrote all day and had to make myself come home at 6. I could’ve stayed there until midnight. I’M A MAKER! :-)

    • “I totally resent scheduled activities if it’s not something relational.”

      YES!!! that is so it!

      and you ARE SUCH a MAKER!!

  18. Wonderful post and I can’t wait to read the article. I’m also glad to know I’m not the only one with 10 books going at once!

  19. Yes and amen! I too will have my husband read this so perhaps he can “get me”. It has been a bit difficult since we have moved to a tiny home and my creative area is out in the open. So, like you, I now get up at 4:30/5:00 to write, create, make in the quiet stillness for 2 hours or so. Even then, it is sometimes difficult for me to put it all away at 7 but its summer vacation after all.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  20. Centsational Girl says

    Agreed my friend! I find the less I interact via social media and avoid my inbox, and instead allow for big chunks of “head down” creative time, the better off I am, the more I get done, and there is contentment that comes from that kind of true productivity, when you’re doing something you value, something “life giving” instead of the “dreaded”. Be gone vile creativity killers! The word “NO” is so powerful, as long as no guilt accompanies it. The use of the word opens up hours for what is truly meaningful. How lucky are we to be in that position though? How many women do we know that are trapped in a job that doesn’t allow that kind of fulfillment? We are truly blessed.

  21. I loved this post! I take a week off every year on my birthday, which usually includes mothers day, just to regenerate my soul, so I can continue to create and beautify my life and the lives of others, I turn my phone off, and I think that’s one of the best things about that week. Thanks so much. . I’m sharing this with everyone I can

  22. Wow! I am new to your site, but this was really insightful!

  23. I always say you are full of wisdom :).

    And your VM thing reminds me of a dear friend’s VM greeting “Hi, this is Jen. I hate voice mail. But I like YOU! So if you want to reach me, you can email me at _____.” ;) Of course, this wouldn’t help your email problem…

    • so true.

      And I love that she says ‘but I like you’. In reality, that’s the problem, we like people so much that we really want to be able to respond to everything! it would all be solved if only I could hate people!!! But everyone is too darn likeable!

  24. I’ve been learning so much of this lately as well – you just put it much more eloquently than I could have! I love your list of life-giving vs dreaded tasks – I might just have to make my own list like that to help me know what tasks I can do with more intentionality. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  25. Wow, I just made that EXACT list (“life-giving vs life-draining”) a couple weeks ago when we were deciding whether to buy a house. We ended up saying “no” after realizing it would force us to work more to afford it – a “life-giving” new garden is no good if you no longer have time to enjoy and use it!!

  26. This is great stuff!! I mean seriously…I’m the maker, my husband the manager…our worlds collide because we both work from home. The last paragraph from the article “Those of us on the maker’s schedule are willing to compromise. We know we have to have some number of meetings. All we ask from those on the manager’s schedule is that they understand the cost.” …YES!!!!!

    Thanks for this ~Sonya

  27. yes, Yes, YES!!! This is so good. And so needed. Thank you for giving us the freedom to go against society’s pressure of always being connected, and instead be true to how we are supposed to live our day…to how we can bring joy and purpose back in our day! I was just talking to a friend this morning about how we both have email anxiety. It is terrible. I am going to start checking my email less. And don’t get me started on phone calls…I am pretty sure my voice mail setup got messed up, meaning I do not get voice mails anymore. It’s been over a month and I have yet to fix it! Oh well! :) But honestly, thank you. Because it is so refreshing to know I am not the only person who feels this way. But secondly, to be freed from the guilt of feeling like we have to always be connected. GUILT for saying yes to quiet, and family, and cooking dinner, and being creative, and living our lives. And not have to always be available!!!!! We should not feel guilty for putting all these other lovely and life giving things as our priority!!!

    • Guilt is a big part of it, Ashley. It took me to get to the point where it was humanly impossible for me to not respond to everything to get over the guilt, don’t do what I did, stop the madness now!!!

    • Yes! Yes! Yes! The guilt! This is the first time I’ve ever felt that it isn’t “wrong” or “lazy” to HATE email & “Do it NOW!” I also realize that I put a lot of that pressure on myself (that other people will think less of me if I don’t answer RIGHT THIS SECOND.) I am learning to say, “No, and You can wait, and Oh well, throw your tantrum. Life will go on. ”

  28. Thank The Lord for you and this message. You have just single-handedly validated my life’s struggle. No more apologies. I am who I am. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thanks for the encouragement.

  29. When I turned 40 I gave myself the gift of saying no. It is the best gift I have ever received. Balancing it can be a little dicey at times though. So glad to know that I’m not the only one who hates texting. My email does not get checked every day. Sometimes I forget about it for several days at a time. This was a great post!

  30. So, SO glad you found that essay – for your own mental health. And good on you for having a week for nourishing your soul. I read the essay a couple of months ago, & immediately apologised to myself for not giving myself the Making time I needed. I also read somewhere that alongside FOMO (fear of missing out – the real reason we constantly check social media, phone, email etc for those oh so ‘important’ updates), is FODO – fear of disappointing others. (& I’m sorry, I don’t know who originally coined the term). Basically it means we gradually allow our boundaries to be compromised because of FODO, & ‘all of a sudden’ find ourselves in a place where we don’t have time for the life-giving things because we’re slave to the drainers. Wow. That hit me between the eyes too. And like yourself, living intentionally has become the new focus – sifting through what’s really important, and resetting the boundaries.

  31. I really appreciate your perspective – my husband is the maker and it drives me crazy how hard it is to get him to switch modes, but you’ve helped me understand that a bit better. As the boss (hahahaha – I love that I get to be the boss!), I need to be more intentional in being sensitive to that difference. Thanks for this!!

  32. This is so true. I am a college professor–maybe not what others think of as a creative–but I only grade papers or write or think in big blocks–when I have meetings (ALL THE TIME) I have such a hard time getting going because I know I will be interrupted and I can’t relax into the work knowing that if I get in too deep, I will forget the meeting. Glad to know I am not alone!

    • This is me, minus the college professor. I work best if I do things in blocks of time and I can’t relax and get things done if I know I’m going to be interrupted. It’s almost painful to get in the flow only to be jolted out of it by something external. Hence, I have difficulty getting in the flow at all sometimes if I know an interruption is on the schedule or likely to happen.

  33. gosh you are so freaking cute. i hate voicemail. i’m terrible about returning calls.
    & you just made SO much clarity in my head!!! gah!!
    love that you loved your staycation. sounds like PURE heaven my friend
    a gig at the barn. heaven help me.

  34. Love this! As soon as I saw your list, I knew that’s what I need to think through. My creative business is growing and I want (and need) to make sure I protect the time required to do the job I love. To start, I will disable more notifications on my phones :)

  35. This is SO me! I didn’t realize that it was a MAKER thing — I just thought something was wrong with me. I can never get going on a project unless I have at least a couple kid-free, responsibility-free hours in front of me. Although I LOVE my sleep and have trouble functioning on less than 8 hours, every now and then I stay up 3-4 hours past bedtime for burst of creativity. I wake up tired the next morning, but my soul feels better after having made something. :-)
    P.S. I was so delighted to find your blog and realize that I can be happy in my home! We moved about six months ago to rent an old country home that needs a lot of love. I’d been saying for 5 years “When we move into a real house…” Now that we’re in one (instead of the trailer we lived in before), I still find so many things I’m not happy with. I’ve been rearranging things and learning that it can still be beautiful, even with the flaws. Whoo-hoo!

  36. Like your painting and interior decoration!

  37. I LOVE this!!!! & it is so filled with truth!

  38. Antonella says

    My 2 cents: I battled with guilt for not being really interested in housework “necessities” like cleaning a lot and ironing (!), on the contrary I’m all for organizing, decorating and cooking (which for me are eminently creative activities). Guess what? I take my boyfriend’s shirts to be ironed and that’s solved. we both clean in a basic way and not overdo it. I’m at an office all day for 8/10 hours at a time and I do not want to spend my “free time” doing chores. I prefer to read nourishing books and invest time in meaningful relationships. My house will not be spotless, but I don’t care anymore. It’s good to be free :-)

  39. YES!!! I have been feeling so not-creative lately and very distracted all the time. I was considering putting my cell in the drawer and ignoring it all day, but haven’t bit the bullet on that one. I think today is the day! I always feel that when I can get it together in the areas I love – like design and creativity – then the rest of the have-to-do’s fall into place too and everything is balanced again. I can’t wait to read the actual article – but will wait until my lunch break to get back to checking in on blogs on the computer. :) Thanks so much for this much needed reminder!!

  40. I find myself a strange combination of both a maker and a manager. For five years I was a communications manager for a church – I was responsible for seeing projects from inception to completion, including all the meetings and interfacing with each ministry we served. I loved all the details. At the same time, writing’s my thing. I was the copywriter on my team, so I definitely understood the maker’s schedule and often operated on it myself. These days I use my gifts to take care of my home and new baby girl, but in the back of my mind I do wonder how I’ll next use my passion for making and managing!

  41. This resonated with me so much, my friend!

    For the past couple of years, I’ve been feeling as though I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my creativity and flow, and, while I’ve created some awesome stuff, I find myself continually frustrated by interruptions, incomplete projects and dangling dreams.

    I’ve become ultra-determined to really propel myself out of that and this is an excellent starting point (and, in reality, it may be the main point, as well).

  42. I just listened to a great lecture on Ted just yesterday to something very similar to this and it sooo resonated with me, it was about introverts and how it should be embraced and not be inferior to an extrovert. The speaker mentioned how all the greats of the world including Jesus would escape to the wilderness to be at one with nature and their thoughts and would return with new knowledge and perspective to share with others. I know personally I feel we all could use more unplugging and more of what makes us truly happy! Great post, so glad you enjoyed your staycation!!

  43. Thanks for sharing this. My hubby is definitely a “maker” … he’s a programmer (like Paul Graham). I read Graham’s essay — his description of his day (working on programs late at night so no one bothers him) — SO my hubby. I never really got why he gets all bent out of shape when I ask him a question, etc., during “programming time.” I get it now (I’m a “manager”). I’ve passed this on to him as well.

  44. Tara Nyanga says

    Have you considered getting a virtual assistant to handle those sorts of tasks? Once you train someone how to respond to certain things, and how to sort/forward on to you, it might serve you really well.

  45. Heather Bivins says

    I totally read the Tim Ferris quote as a Ferris Bueller quote and was trying to remember where that was in the movie! Oh my word. I’m a maker in a manager world (job). Love all you write.

  46. THANK YOU so much! This article gives me wonderful guidance that I have been seeking.

  47. This is something God brought to me today. I’m in this journey of learning to be a better “maker” and this fits the whispers I’ve been hearing in my heart. Thank you for putting loud words to hear more clearly what God is directing me in!

  48. Mary Lee Carrigan says

    I have a friend who uses one day a week to take care of e-mail corresponding, etc. The rest of the week, she doesn’t even THINK about it. I have tried this, but with children, I find that teachers are daily updating assignments, sending e-mails and if you don’t check …. you miss a biggie. LOVE the teachers who let you know what day they update, HATE the ones who update daily and you never know what time of the day. I HATE it, because it is so hard to just turn “off” these days and “be”. I totally get this, just not sure what I need to do to change and “free” up. Something that did change my life several years ago …… I read a statement from one of Billy Graham’s daughters, can’t remember which one ….. but it said that everytime you say yes to something, you also are saying no to something because we can’t do it all. Makes me stop and think now, what will I be saying no to and what is the cost of saying yes. Definitely freed me up to say NO. Really appreciate you!

  49. Really really good read!! I needed to see this today!

  50. Oh my goodness! So true. I will read the article you linked to in one sec – but just your post helps! I feel like by the time I get done all that needs to be done (emails, etc) that I’ve got nothing left. Not to mention fitting it all around homeschooling my kids. Must figure out a solution for me!

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