Maker Day FTW!

TL;DR:

Maker Day is a no-meetings, no-schedules, no-office day when makers just make. Every Tuesday at Moveline, productivity spikes as both the product and the makers grow.


What the what is Maker Day?

When you wake up on Maker Day, your schedule is clean, and guaranteed to stay that way. No interviews, no standups, no checkins, nothing. Your time is completely your own.

No way!

Ya way. Let’s dig in.

Difficult problems take time, space, and creativity.

Any limit on freedom hinders the creative and problem-solving space the brain needs to do its best work.

Paul Graham distinguishes the hourly Manager’s schedule from the half-day Maker’s schedule. Zach Holman loves to talk about how Github stays in “the zone” with asynchronous communication.

When I’m working, my ability to solve a problem is dependent on the mental capacity I can afford it. Finding a maintainable, scalable solution to a difficult problem does not happen hour to hour. It happens when I can afford the space to think the issue all the way through.

Interruptions have a cost.

The multi-tasking myth has been busted – texting, email, etc. are destroyers of productivity. A tap on the shoulder at the wrong time means 5, 10, maybe 15 minutes of trying to get back in the zone. Context-switching is a heavy task for the brain, during which precious details are slipping through the cracks.

Being productive means adding value, not putting in hours.

Going to work is not the same as doing the work. You don’t add any value just by being in the office. Why should anyone care when or where the work gets done?

Adding that value is not limited to pushing code, either.

The easy argument for Maker Day is productivity, correlated with shipped features and tasks accomplished. But there is another source of value: focused self-teaching.

My first maker day, our lead engineer threw me a link to Q and told me to implement “promises” in one of our backbone apps. I did not know what he was talking about, but I did have the space to try to figure it out. That day was extremely productive for me as an engineer, and therefore for the team and for the product as well.

The time it takes to complete a task includes the time it takes to learn the right way to do it. We’re not looking for the quickest solution, we’re looking for the best one.

Etc., etc., etc.

Controlling your own environment and schedule = happiness and freedom = optimized productivity, creativity, and work quality.

What about Accountability?

This could get it’s own blog post, but in a nutshell:

You hired these people! Trust them! And don’t hire people you don’t trust to do the work!

37 Signals knows best: you get out what you put in. If you put in trust, you get trust back. Their new problem is over-working – not a bad problem to have.

Paul Graham reminds us that people treated like children will act like them. And this animation from the RCA called Drive explores how different motivations impact the quality of work.

Both point to a conclusion Moveline believes in: happy, autonomous, and empowered workers produce the most valuable work.

Maker Day is teaching us too.

We’ve also learned from Maker Day, and we’re pulling the goodness back into our culture:

Remote work… works!

We baby-stepped into remote work, first with Maker Day, then with Remote Thursdays, and now with a fully remote (and productive) product team.

The Headphone Rule and defaulting to async.

When we’re in the office, do not interrupt a headphoned worker directly. Email, Hipchat, Sprintly, Github – there is always an async option.

Meetings should never be long and should always be necessary.

We all know meetings are toxic, but are also a good way to get on the same page. Every meeting should start with the desired outcome and stay on that task no matter what.

We love Maker Day

Wednesday morning’s stand-up meeting is a glorious list of our happy Maker Day Makings, and sometimes other things, like this Maker Day Vine which speaks for itself. (Sort of.)

We believe in the power of the zone, and that maker day is the best way to find it.

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