43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Planning 20% Time For Personal Projects

One thing I realized late this schoolyear was how important it is to have personal projects. Generally, during school, I'd focus on my academics, and completely waste the rest of my time. But then I started working on some of my own projects (e.g. a productivity app, I discovered that working on my own stuff rejuivinated me for schoolwork in a way that screwing around and reading Digg didn't.

But since finishing freshman year, I decided I loved Boston so much that it would really do me good to stay here, so I got an internship at a web company and a sublet room. I had some momentum with my current projects, but that kind of slowed down, because I was tired at the end of the day. I wondered how much time I ought to devote to my own stuff to make any headway with it, now that I had a dayjob. Then I remembered what they say about Googlers: they spend 20 percent of their time on their own stuff.

So for me, wondering if that was the magic ratio, I realized that to spend 20% of my time on my own stuff, since my employer isn't quite as cool as Google, I'd have to work, on average, a 10 hour day, to accomplish that.

Surprisingly, that's worked out fine. Somehow just devoting a small, but known, percentage of my time to my own stuff made me 1) spend more time and 2) be more productive in that time. While last summer, after high school, I decided to focus full time on my own pursuits and barely mustered 30 hours a week of work.

I think I owe it to two things: 1) the ratio, balancing something that's fun and optional (though equally difficult) with something required and not quite as fun and 2) actually getting out during the day and interacting with other human beings. In addition, not being stuck in my crazy house with my family may have been a contributing factor to my recent sucess.

How do you guys work on personal projects and maintain momentum?

About nuttdan




An Oblique Strategy:
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