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My Friday Experiments

About a year ago I read the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.  While the book is most pertinent to business people, it’s also highly applicable to us as students.  The book helped me better understand work ethic and motivation as they relate to life as a student. 

You can watch a video about the book below:
​I surprisingly found the most applicable advice in a section of the book discussing improvement in organizations.  An idea of using non-commissioned work as a stimulus of productivity and creativity was explained in the context of a physics lab at the University of Manchester.  The scientists put aside about 10% of their time for “Friday evening experiments”.  ”.  It was time devoted to projects with no funding and no real goal, yet it lead to an incredibly important discovery for the lab.  They discovered graphene one "Friday afternoon", a two-dimensional material that has hopeful applications for the future​.

In the grind of school, working a couple of jobs, and other commitments, I found that I wasn’t engaging in activities that allowed me to develop and exploit my curiosity.  I wasn’t using my imagination in a way that I wanted.  I was caught up in finishing tasks for deadlines, studying for tests, and making sure that I was fulfilling all of my responsibilities.  Yet, I lacked activities and experiences that allowed me to explore without a cause.  My imagination wasn’t being cultivated and I needed a change.

That cycle of realization has repeated since I read the book about a year ago.  Each quarter, in about the seventh week of classes, I realize how much time has flown without taking time to let my mind wander.

It’s time that I start my own “Friday afternoon experiments”.  Maybe I should be doing real experiments on Friday afternoons, but that's the point, to intentionally not do something that I've made a commitment to.  The point is to explore something new, to feed and stimulate my curiosity, to renew creativity, and to awake my imagination. 

Fridays are beautiful because they signify the end of a (hopefully) productive week.  They’re a moment to step back and be thankful for what the week brought.  This quarter I have back to back commitments from 9 am until 1 pm on Fridays, so I’m especially in the mood to be active.   Autonomy, Challenge, Mastery, Making a Contribution.  Daniel Pink says that these are things that fuel our motivation.  So, I’m going to use these as guidelines for my Friday explorations. 

This Friday’s experiment: Barnes and Noble.  I'm going to set up a nice playlist on Spotify for browsing the shelves at the local book store.  There's something wildly energizing about searching through stacks of books.  I'll see where it goes.  I'm going to use the books as Wikipedia links.  When I read something intriguing in a book, I'll jump to another section of the store to read more about that.  I can't wait. 
 
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