On May 24th, I wrote a post titled Shifting To Maker Mode For The Summer. I had full intentions of making this shift around Memorial Day and sustaining it until Labor Day.
I have completely failed at this. While I’m managed to stay off social media and read a lot more than watch TV, I massively underestimated the amount of transactional activity I’d have this summer. On Monday mornings, when I’d look at my schedule for the week, I’d see a wall of blue through Friday, starting early in the morning and going until dinner time. My goal was to have nothing scheduled until 1 pm with an upper bound at 5 pm, but this ended up being an epic fail. And, as a bonus, I’ve had a dinner almost every night between Monday and Thursday so far this summer (that’s not a good thing.) I’ve had a few days that weren’t completely full, but they’ve ended up being catch-up days.
The next few of weeks are more of the same. So, I’ve accepted that Maker Mode is not happening this summer.
I’ve got two books in process: Give First and Startup Communities 2. I wrote 15,000 words on Give First in March but haven’t opened my Scrivener file since. I have a co-author (Ian Hathaway) work is hard at work on the first draft of Startup Communities 2, so at least he’s making progress, but I haven’t even started holding up my part of that particular bargain.
I’m am running and have committed to do the Run Crazy Horse marathon in South Dakota in October. The running has been great for my body and even better for my mental health, so that’s good.
I feel deep equanimity around this. In the past, I’d be frustrated with myself for not getting in gear. But in hindsight, it’s clear that maker mode wasn’t realistic given the other work commitments I have along with all of the episodic stuff that regularly comes up in my work life. Snoopy continues to be my guide on this particular journey.
My favorite and most productive time of the year is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Basically, summertime.
Normally I’d declare this the Tuesday after the Memorial Day weekend but I’m just getting over a cold so fuck it, summertime starts today.
During maker mode, I try to only do meetings and phone calls in the afternoons between 1 and 5. There are some exceptions – mostly board meetings – but I try to give myself lots of space to work on the longer term stuff. While this is mostly writing, it also includes deeper work for specific companies, especially around product and product strategy. Essentially, things that take more than 30 minutes of concentration.
Last weekend Amy and I shifted into reading mode over the weekend (we were both sick so couldn’t do much other than lay on the couch, read, fall asleep, and complain about feeling crappy.) It continued into the week – the TV hasn’t been on for a while and evenings are spent on our couches with the dogs and our Kindles. Heaven.
In addition to turning off the TV, I’ve turned off all the continuous interrupts. I’m not looking at social media (although I am still broadcasting.) I’m not looking at news (I figure anything I really need to know will find its way to me) other than my continuous stream of tech news in my a Slack channel. My Sunday New York times habit will be banished until after Labor Day. Podcasts – forget it – for a while.
While I fantasize that I can be in maker mode all the time, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to sustain throughout the year. For some reason, the tempo of the summer makes it easy. Maybe it’s because the days are longer. Or it’s warmer and more people melt away. Or after 40+ years of behaving a certain way, summer is just different for me than the rest of the year.