This is not a note on the proletariat struggle. This is a note on the differences I’ve found on workflow and frame of mind between a Manager (Producer, department director or personnel manager) and a Creative person (Artist, Animator, Designer, Programmer).
So then, what is Management workflow and Creative workflow, and how are they different?
Management workflow is typically high level problem solving. Managers tend to have full calendars (often double and triple booked). These calendars are full of half hour meetings to discuss specific issues or goals.
Creative workflow is typically centered around long periods of uninterrupted time. This distraction free time has been proven to yield better quality and quantity work, be it art, design or code.
By it’s nature Upper Management requires people to be able to drop what they are doing and move to the next sudden biggest priority. That’s the way Managers manage. They have many small meetings per day to discuss and quickly solve issues. Creative development is counter to that, however. It takes focus to complete a task that exceeds expectations.
Personally, as I transitioned from primarily creating and problem solving in the Art department to leading and then managing them, I struggled with this shifting of workflow. Here are some tips I’ve used myself. Let me know if you have any ideas as well.
- Block out time on your office calendar for anything you think will require uninterrupted time. Close all your IM’s and browsers. If there is an emergency, people can come over to find you, don’t worry about cutting yourself off digitally for a little while.
- Plan for tomorrow before you leave for the night. Look at all the little things you need to do management wise and account for that time.
- Help the team by having them help you. Ask people for their thoughts, remember you work for the team, not the other way around. If you let them into the decision making process they’ll feel valued and you’ll have fresh insight.
I’ve found context switching to be difficult, and I need to plan for it to be effective. Basically it comes down to making a distinction in the time to focus on the long duration tasks and the time to handle the many little things that need attention.
I’m certainly learning as I go, and these techniques may not work for you. Take them and make them better in the context of your workplace/workflow.