January 14, 2013

Can Writing Be Your 20 Percent Time?

An education colleague, Lisa Thumann, wrote a post recently about how some teachers are using the concept of  20% time. It’s a work concept that came about in 2006 when one of Google’s engineers wrote about how the company allowed them  to spend one day a week (20%) of their time “working on projects that aren’t necessarily in our job descriptions.”

They weren’t playing games or updating their Facebook page. They were supposed to be developing something new, or fixing something that’s broken.  Google claimed that in 2009 half of all Google’s products originated in 20% time.

When I heard about this back in 2006, I wondered why more employers didn’t introduce the concept.

Well, it has some obstacles: Money for one. Why pay people a chunk of salary to work on other things?  And what about those employees who would be updating their Facebook pages during that time?  But it could (with some parameters) produce some important things for the employer.

Lisa was writing about educators but what about you as a writer?  I was writing on another blog about this and later thought about how writers often complain that they just don't have time to write, but the secret is setting aside time to write on a regular basis.

William Stafford and Robert Bly are writers known for their "morning poems" which they did each day upon waking up.

The problems in doing the 20% in some jobs might be: Where to get the time? How to monitor work? How to stay on task? (And that includes using the time to fool around and using the time to just do your regular job.)

If I told you take Wednesday as your outside writing time, would I also take away 20% of your workload or would you just have to do that 100% in 80% of the time?

Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have said that the concept came from their childhood Montessori School experiences.

Creative play is underrated. So is having the time to be creative.

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