Managers and Makers (people who actually get real work done) work in fundamentally different ways. I was going to spend time explaining this in detail, but Paul Graham has already done it better than I could. Go and read that, and then come back.
TL;DR Makers mostly work doing deep thinking in large blocks of time. Most manager work requires broad thinking in small blocks of time. Don’t forget that your people work different, and to be effective, you need to allow for that. As a manager, there are two things that you can do to help.
- Stop interrupting them!
- Prevent other people from interrupting them!
Some straightforward things that you can try (I’ve tried or seen all of these with various effects).
- Meetings only at start of day or just before/after lunch. (Easy and obvious!)
- “No morning meetings.” (Our team have a stand-up first thing, and then I try and prevent other meetings before lunch).
- “No meeting Thursdays” (One day a week that your team refuses to do meetings. You can really get stuff done. Publicise widely what day you’re not available.)
- “Cans on; can’t disturb.” Headphones on – no interruptions. If you want to interrupt someone on my team with headphones on, you have to come past me first.
Whether you’re a manager or a maker, I recommend trying one or more of these out, or invent your own. People might grumble to start with, but the actual cost (beyond a little bit of thought up front) is very low, and the benefits high.