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The Rule of 20 Percent

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Last month while impatiently waiting for baby's arrival, I stayed up late at night reading gobs of books. Mostly non-fiction....the blur of facts and theories and biographies lulling me to sleep. One little tidbit of information really caught my attention though- and has inspired much thought and planning on my part. It's Google's rule of 20%.  
Since I lived in the Silicon Valley after college, I already knew Google Headquarters was a sort of crazy work paradise with cool office design, afternoon luaus, and delicious lunches. I didn't realize, however, that they also adhere to a policy to inspire innovation from their employees. Called the Rule of 20%.  It allows, and actually encourages, their Googlites to use twenty percent of the work week to address new ideas, explore experimental programs, and focus on novel concepts.  

After I got past a little bit of envy, I realized that this formula is just what I needed! 

In running a small business, I often get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks or I'm on the spinning wheel of completing orders ( definitely a good thing!) but somehow it leaves me little time to innovate or expand. All my ideas for newness get stowed away and lost in my sketch book. Only for me to re-discover and feel guilty them about later on......
But, by applying the rule of 20% I'm ALLOWING myself a portion of work time to create. The notion of actually planning for newness seems so easy. I think however, that having that time actually scheduled into the work week can make all the difference. Of course, I haven't actually applied this rule yet...since I'm not officially back in the studio...but I'm imagining how freeing it will be to feel like there is time to actually dust off those sketches and make.  I'm expecting a sense of inspiration, awakening, and fulfillment to follow. 

Thank you Google! 

light bulb print: The Big Harumph
create photograph: Marasca Photography


Linda said...

Thank you for this post. This is a great reminder to take time to do the very thing that is responsible for the business in the first place! I never wanted to be a business woman, just a creative one. It seems like business yells louder and demands more attention. I will also plan in 20% of my time to just create!

Priscilla said...

I love reading your blog ~ beautifully written :)

Valerie said...

I realized that I definitely don't give myself 20%. My mentality is to always stay on task, but this was a good reminder for me to allow myself to deviate from normal and to experiment each week.

Live a Colorful Life said...

This is a very important reminder. I'm going to work on incorporating this into my work week. Thanks, Allisa!