20% for Summer Creativity

How would you like to spend 20% of your time doing something creative, just because you think it is interesting? Sound impossible? It’s not. Here’s one example.

One of the most famous “perks” of working at Google is that for many employees, twenty percent of their time can be used on any project they choose. These are projects that begin by thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if….” Many of Google’s most successful innovations (for example, gmail) have started as “20% projects.” Thinking about Google’s 20% investment made me think about how different our lives might be if each of us spent 20% of our time in creative pursuits. Well, what better time than summer to try it?  Here’s Shannon Deegan explaining how the 20% projects work. While you listen, think about what your 20% might look like, then check out the ideas below.

Many teachers have a summer break from teaching routines. Some of us do not. But either way, I propose a summer experiment. Think about the number of hours in your week in which you 1) are not at a job for which someone pays you or another set commitment 2) are awake. Really. Add them up. Now take 20% of that number and try to spend it doing something that comes to mind when you think, “Wouldn’t it be cool if….” For those of you who have children home for the summer, these could be family activities (see Monday blogs for suggestions.) For others, they may be solo activities, or things for which you recruit friends. Anything creative goes!

And remember, a playful spirit invites creativity, so have a little fun, folks. Just to get you started, some people might be thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could…

  • Make one area of the garden really lovely
  • Paint with my feet
  • Figure out how to turn these old photos into an art work without destroying them
  • Restore that old ___ in the garage
  • Get the neighbors together and figure out what to do with that vacant lot or ugly wall
  • Invent something to solve a household problem
  • Create an ad I’d really like to see
  • Throw a creative party
  • Spend time in the woods (or anywhere else you love), just exploring
  • Write a song
  • Organize a circus
  • Make up a new board game
  • Dance without self-consciousness
  • Host a “Chopped” competition (see the Food Network site if this doesn’t sound famililar)
  • Explore music, art, food, or dance from a different culture
  • Shape Rice Krispie treats into something amazing.

I’d love to hear what you do with your 20%.

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