Maker, Manager, Consumer

I’ve been thinking lately about my journaling workflows. I’m increasingly using digital tools for daily journaling and questioning a lot of assumptions. One of those is about the purpose of journaling my day. Am I doing it to figure out what I was doing at 2:00 p.m. on a given day, or something else? The more I think about it, for me, the answer is something else.

Now I’m looking at my days not in terms of what I was doing at a specific time, but instead what I was doing with my time. I’m usually wearing one of three hats: maker, manager, or consumer.

The Maker

Whenever I’m adding something, I’m making. I interpret this broadly. Making Field Guides, writing blog posts, doing client work, and making music are examples of things I make. While a lot of the things I make are shared with the world, others aren’t. Whether it’s for others or for me, I’m still making.

The Manager

For Maker Sparky to produce, Manager Sparky needs to wrangle everything else. This is both an essential support role and an easy trap to fall into.

The Consumer

When I’m not making or managing, I’m consuming. This ranges from watching Star Wars to reading scholarly articles. It’s all-consuming. This isn’t bad. It’s one of the best ways I come up with ideas for Maker Sparky.

My purpose in journaling is tracking how I’m spending my time in these roles. I don’t view any of them as inherently good or bad. The magic is in the balance. While making is most important to me, both managing and consuming enable making. I want to spend more time making than consuming. I need to spend time managing, but not go down the management/productivity rabbit hole so far that I don’t make anything.

So with this in mind, I’ve been focusing my journaling lately not so much on what I had for lunch, but what I make, manage, and consume. Using tags, I can then see it on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis. If I look at my week and realize I spent most of my time sharpening pencils and sorting tasks (manager) and not enough time producing content (maker), I know I need to make changes. You can get similar information by tracking your time, but I think there is something more concrete looking at a list of things you’ve made, managed, and consumed over a period of time.

Implementing this isn’t difficult. You could create a text file and start making a list. You can do the same thing with a pad of paper and a pencil, or, if you’re using a digital journal like Day One, add tags for #maker, #manager, and #consumer. The real benefit of this comes in planning and review. If you’re going to track yourself as a maker, manager, and consumer, you should have some expectations and a feedback mechanism for living up to them.