Sometimes there are moments in my personal projects when all across the board it is (what I call) ‘boring’ work. A task is considered boring when it does not involve any creativity, technical, or learning. This type of work does not help keep my soul alive. The problem is that the activation energy to accomplish boring tasks is significantly more. This is relevant when working on long-term projects which require pacing to endure throughout all the work that needs to get done. Also, I should mention, this probably only applies to projects that you aren’t making a wage from yet. I think a lot of things change when it goes from a project to a paying role, it becomes more important and you are (finally) being rewarded for years of work and training. One can dream, I guess. Until that dream is achieved, here’s a solution I’m going to try.
Weekend recharging for me (after sleep is covered) means engaging in boundless curiosity and … MAKING STUFF! Make whatever! Learn something new while making! Try making different things! What happens if this attaches to this and does that? Who knows, just try it! For me, this is much more fun and inspiring than, say, consuming more content and videogames, as well as being forced into social situations because that’s what society expects you to do to have fun. Bah! No way!
Wait! There’s a caveat: Even if you’re MAKING STUFF, you’ll still be confused about what project to make, and most importantly you’ll be haunted with the “should be doing XYZ” thoughts. The “should” thoughts are not very productive because they discount the entire purpose – to recharge. Here’s a way I’m going to combat this, and I call it:
THE FRIVOLOUS PROJECT MATRIX
As the name suggests, the frivolous project matrix is comprised of a set of criteria to grade a project idea on, and 3 project ideas. If you have more project ideas going in to the weekend, then you need to cut it down to just 3. Then it is time to figure out the criteria. For me, this is the criteria list and the description as a prompt:
|Cost||can i use supplies already available for this? or are new components needed for it?|
|Unstructured||is there any structure needed to complete the project? does this project have elements that are ‘out of the box’?|
|Unlockability||would doing this project make some other future project ideas possible?|
|Playfulness||is there an element of unknown in this project that will involve seeing how a part turns out, and then building on that result? seeing how things change if something different is added to the mix? eg, just playing!|
|Adventurous||does this touch on a different area? is it new? will it give a different perspective?|
|Creativity||are there artistic elements involved? eg, interactivity, positioning shapes in different ways, colours, blinking leds, sounds, re-arranging blocks, etc.|
|Challenging||is this project technically challenging? new frontiers of my skillset?|
|Achievability||is this project an easy win? will feel good from accomplishing it? is this project achievable? (it’s ok if not, sometimes the end goal isn’t the purpose for trying)|
|Learning new skill||will there be learning involved?|
|Content creation||could there be a piece created from this? eg, a video, tutorial, or blog post|
|Monetization||could it lead to something that could be a product, offering, or service?|
|Time||is it achievable within the finite time of a weekend? (*note, if it still sounds interesting but is not, could investigate slicing the problem down even more)|
The criteria is derived from immediate aspects in the project idea, and from possible future outcomes from the project. The weighting of the criteria can change, each week or whatever periodicity you want. That’s the fun and adaptable part, sometimes the weight of each of these may change depending on what’s on my mind. With the weights, it can capture this with regards to each project idea.
After that, it’s time to rate the projects and see the scores. The scores don’t make the decision of course – they are a number that can assist you in making the final choice on whether or not to embark on the project or not. Finally, once complete, go forth and MAKE STUFF and recharge! The Frivolous Project Matrix assists in defeating the “should”s that usually flood one’s mind when taking a break.
Any pre-requisites or post-requisites for frivolous projects? At the start: closing all existing browser tabs (bookmark if need be) to start with a fresh computer view. At the end: document and blog what was learned! Tidy up workbench and organize tools & parts. Close everything to start the week with a fresh computer view. And remember, during the whole frivolous project there is no pressure to succeed at all, and if there is any portion of it that is boring for more than 5 mins, then move on to something else!
Alright, that’s all for now. Anyway, thanks to the frivolous project matrix, it’s time to go MAKE STUFF!