Google expects their people to spend 20% of their time working on pet projects. That’s a whole day a week. It’s a really great idea, and not just because it often results in new products and services for Google to offer the world. It also makes for better performance at one’s “day job”. Google’s not the only big company pushing the idea of encouraging their people to spend time working on projects not directly related to their “real jobs”, either. 3M’s been doing it since forever. And they brought us post-its, so you know they’re onto something.
That insistence on working on pet projects and playtime gets me thinking about our business, the business of video & film production. Often there’s not enough playfulness involved- I know a ton of talented guys who spend all their time going from video production gig to video production gig. Never resting. Never tinkering with pet projects. I’ve watched a lot of them get burned out, and most of them fall into a rut, where their videos get stuck at a certain quality level and never progress to the next level.
I really believe that all push and no play makes one a dull person. That’s why we’re always working on a couple side projects while we do our paid projects. It makes our paid work better, and it makes us more well-rounded people. Sometimes, it even opens our minds to new ways of doing things.