Sometimes I love programming, sometimes I don’t. Recently the importance of pursuing personal projects that you have a passion for has been re-enforced.
I enjoy a simple web game called “Canvas Rider“. I’ve always wanted to make a cool track for the game, but the editor for the track is not very friendly. Even making simple shapes takes a lot of work. So I decided to try to write a converter that would convert files generated in InkScape to work with Canvas Rider. While doing this I needed a better way to search through parsed xml in php and came across QueryPath (a jQuery like tool for php).
Once I became familiar with QueryPath (which I was highly motivated to do because of the personal interest I had in the project I was working on) I’ve since used it in numerous other projects. From doing some Screen Scraping to read linked contacts, to auto-generating an sdk for “Wrike” from their documentation. And now, again scraping a wholesalers site to send real-time inventory notifications to a reseller.
At Novak Solutions, every Friday after 1pm self-directed time starts. The only expectation is that you eventually report what you did and learned.
Another company “TrackAbout” has a nice blog post about the benefits they’ve seen from implementing 5% self-directed time. Dan Pink gave a very cool Ted Talk about motivating employees and how autonomy and mastery are 2 of the 3 major factors that impact employee motivation. Self-directed time breeds these two feelings.
So, give it a try. Give your employees some structured self-directed time for a little while and see what benefits you get from it.