At Salesforce, we’re committed to creating a workplace that enables our employees to do their best work. That looks pretty different in the year 2021, so we’ve been continuously evolving how we work. Despite many of us within the Technology, Marketing, and Product organization (TMP) already embracing a globally distributed workforce with a lot of flexibility in where and when we get our work done, there’s still plenty to learn as we create new systems and structures to support Success from Anywhere. Our focus right now is on adopting new tools and practices, being inclusive of all of our team members, making fun a priority, and improving the onboarding experience. One thing we’ve been talking a lot about is Maker Time.
What is Maker Time?
Maker Time is simply uninterrupted heads-down work time where you can focus and dive fully into a document or a difficult piece of code. For people like software developers, writers, and UX team members, maker time is crucial to making progress on projects. We all need that, even people leaders who have often been lumped under the opposite category, “Manager Time.” But how can we as individuals create, protect, and utilize maker time in our new flex world?
Start thinking about when you work best and how you can ensure you have the right time blocked on your calendar. What are the barriers for you? What would help open up and protect your Maker Time? Let’s dig into some strategies to get started.
Set Maker Time Expectations with Your Team
We’ve found Maker Time experiments to be most successful when entire teams are on board with them. It helps when managers support and protect maker time for their team. And for team members, it’s critical to outline how they’ll work together to ensure each individual gets the focused time they need each week. Team agreements are one way we encourage teams to find success in a work-from-anywhere world (more on that topic in a future post). So what might team alignment around Maker Time look like?
Here are some specific examples of team agreements that enable individuals to practice the strategies we laid out in the previous section:
- We will have 3 hours/day reserved on the calendar for Maker Time. Calendars will be visible to the team, and Maker Time won’t be scheduled over if there is another suitable block available that day.
- We will reserve 1:00–4:00 PT for Maker Time, with the exception of escalations or team members stuck on an issue.
- We use sprint planning to rotate team members to triage urgent requests and investigations with a goal of having them resolve 80% of the requests without disturbing other team members.
- If urgent help is needed for an incident escalation, use Pagerduty to contact specific people
These specific call-outs around Maker Time make it very clear for team members how they can set aside time to focus without negatively impacting their team’s productivity.
Protect Your Maker Time from Others
So now that you’ve got your calendar all blocked off for Maker Time, are you finding that people are stepping all over it? Even with Maker Time blocked, protecting it may sometimes be necessary.
You need to set clear boundaries for yourself and enforce them. Here are some ideas:
- Make your calendar public. I know that might sound uncomfortable at first, but your calendar isn’t some deep secret. Full calendar visibility can really help folks be respectful of your personal life commitments, your important meetings, and yes, your Maker Time. If this feels like too big of a step, try it first with just your team and those with whom you work most closely. And check the settings of your preferred calendar tool — it should be pretty easy to set individual events as private for personal appointments or other sensitive meetings, which can make sharing your calendar feel a little less scary.
- Advertise your availability. Mount a little whiteboard outside your home workspace, and label for your family or roommates the best times to interrupt. Do not include your Maker Time blocks on this list. Set boundaries about Slack or other chat tools by setting your status as “Maker Time” when you’re having heads-down time, and close the app for a while.
- Practice good meeting hygiene. Meeting running over? Let folks you know you’re at time and have to go. Set up a time to continue the conversation or EVEN BETTER, continue the conversation on Slack. Start to think async.
Lastly, you can always push back. If someone is try to take over your Maker Time, you can say, “Let’s meet at X Date/Time or chat on Slack instead.”
Protect Your Maker Time from Yourself
We’ve talked about how to protect your Maker Time from others. But for many of us, the largest barrier to uninterrupted work time is actually ourselves. If you’re like me, a long stretch gets me thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner, hankering for a long walk in the sunshine, or motivated to get my laundry finished. If you’ve got work time in front of you, how can you make sure you’re actually using it effectively to crush some big deliverables?
- Minimize digital distractions. Close your email. Close Slack. Chat shouldn’t be something we’re looking at and responding to constantly. Turn off notifications. Responding can give you a little bump of dopamine, but finishing big projects will give you more.
- Minimize physical distractions. Hide from your personal life, too. Put your cell phone in the other room, on silent. Turn off any TVs or other distractions. You can even shut off your internet if that’s reasonable.
- Set small goals and reward yourself. Getting a massive 4-hour project done is too big for our squishy gray brains; reward yourself with snacks and laundry breaks (or whatever is satisfying for you) for getting different pieces of work complete.
Bigger isn’t always better
When you’re starting to incorporate Maker Time into your day, it might feel intimidating to “disappear” for a four-hour block of time. That’s okay! Even a single focused hour can make a big difference. Just make sure you prioritize your tasks accordingly, and coordinate with your team, so that you can make meaningful progress in that time.
Our challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to start experimenting with Maker Time. In the next week, can you find a single hour to block off on your calendar to get into a flow state? Can you have a conversation with your team about how to create space for focus? Can you identify a project that needs your undivided attention and set aside a specific time to work on it? Try some different things out to see what works best for you, and then iterate from there! That’s how we’re evolving the ways we work together at Salesforce — one small experiment at a time.
Ready to go heads down and try out Maker Time as part of our team? Sign up for our Talent Portal to see all of our open roles and get periodic updates from our recruiting team.