I have been studying creativity for about six months now and one of the issues that keeps coming up is this difference between how creators and managers think about time.
Managers vs. Creators
Managers view time as a resource; every moment needs to be scheduled and manipulated efficiently. This is why they love meetings. It is why they can stop what they’re doing and meet you for lunch and then go back to work without missing a beat.
Managers think of time in hour-long segments. Every 60 minutes they enter a new segment of their day. If a manager works on something for four hours she thinks of it as four one-hour segments instead of one four-hour segment.
Creators, on the other hand, view time in larger half day segments. A creator needs isolation and dedicated time to do the work. To them, an hour is barely long enough to get started; they may spend an entire day working on one project.
Creators hate meetings and other interruptions. If they know they have a meeting in an hour they lose moral. They think, “What’s the point? I won’t be able to get any work done anyway.” And they are right.
We Need Each Other
Managers and Creators see thing differently, but neither method is better than the other.
Seth Godin points out on his blog that Managers benefit greatly from doing things like a Creator. He says, “making is more important than ever before. Even the most Outlook-driven manager can benefit from finding the isolation to do truly challenging work.”
Creators also benefit from doing things like Managers. Seth says, “Makers need to be disciplined enough to interact like managers, else they will become pawns in a system they don’t sufficiently influence.”
Managers need to give Creators the opportunity to focus on their projects long enough to get it done. Creators need to incorporate Manager’s schedules into their work flow so they can influence the direction of their projects.
Which One Am I?
I have no idea which one I am. I’m probably a bit of a hybrid.
Most of my friends would say I am more of a manager. I like lists and I schedule my time ferociously.
On the other hand, I can see a lot Creator in me as well. If I don’t schedule large chunks of uninterrupted work time I won’t even start big projects. To accomplish this I do nothing but write on Saturday mornings, I block out all of Tuesday night to lead Bible study, and I spend the majority of Wednesday night building the infrastructure for this site.
This leads me to a bit of an identity crisis. Am I a Manager or a Creator?
I am probably a bit of both. I’m betting you are too.
You may lean more in one direction, but to you some areas of life have time limits and other need large chunks of the day to be focused on.
The Take Away
Paul’s essay and Seth’s comments brought some clarity on a few struggles in my life.
- Time needs to be intentional. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you decide to do it.
- Managers need half-day segments. Creativity comes when the music is off, the room is quiet, and there are no time limits. Managers who don’t incorporate chunks of time into their week will lose the thing that makes them most successful: their creativity.
- Creators need meetings. Without influencing those around you, nothing creative will make it outside your creative mind. Ideas only matter if you have enough influence to do something with them.
Are you a manager or a creator? What changes are you going to make today to get the benefits from the other way of thinking? Let me know in the comments.