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We live in a world where more gravity is given to those who burn their candles at both ends for the sake of what is now being hailed as the ‘workplace toxicity label of the decade’ (Family) than those who look to better their offering to the company through a qualitative means.  Due to this all-but-cemented standard, it isn’t often that the Average Joe has time to sit back and reflect on how to further hone their craft in a way that all can truly benefit.  Enter artificial restriction in the interest of fear.  For many, the idea of ‘upping the game’ usually ends in a more traditional channel in hopes their superior will sign-off on such an endeavor, such as attending seminars, trade shows, or doing a group book study.

You may be wondering what the big deal is, over the idea of creative growth in the more traditional workforce.  After all, an accountant is an accountant.  They help push the needle further by accounting, not creating.  And yet, major corporations turn around and change the entire trajectory of their business by investing in the very concept of reserved creative time.  Google calls this “20 percent time” and is a policy that states all engineers spend 20% of their work time on personal projects. 

Doing so has led to great strides business growth, not just for google, but our species as a whole.  Without this policy we wouldn’t have GMAIL, or AdSense or Google Talk.  Too techie for you?  How about 3M, who claims their ’15 percent time’ policy led to the creation of the Post It Note.

“Yea, but we aren’t Google.”

As the incredible benefit from said policies, few companies actually adopt them.  Why is that?  Well, when it comes to innovative time, businesses AND individuals stand toe-to-toe with a real paradox.  Creativity requires open space to explore, to experiment, to ponder.  Your best ideas come to you in non-linear ways, like taking a quick walk, or a day where your calendar is full of white space, and businesses hate that since it ruins their quantitative reports.  When you play the numbers game, that’s 1.6 hours each day that isn’t directly work related (2.6 hours if you include a lunch break).  The possible benefits are immeasurable and they hurt performance numbers.  It’s no wonder many C-Suite execs see comparable policy as little more than a lottery while conceding or worse, adopting a policy as a facade with no real commitment.

In the creative space, many designers find themselves in a rut of uninspired projects and design requests.  They’re happy to help, and do great work, but they blink and it’s been a decade since they created something without a work order attached.   In the last year, many of the designers I follow have been initiating their own version of this policy with “30-Day Challenges”.  The minor details fluctuate (e.g. time, project focus, ect.) but the gist of this, is to create something new every day for 30-Days.  Some days you may have the ability to spend your 20%, others, mere minutes.  The purpose, however, is to flex your brain by playing with a new typeface, creating some fan art, or exploring a new design style altogether.  The only way to fail is to not create something daily (or in some cases every work day) and make it exploratory or even personal.  Doing so gives us some much needed mental stretching and who knows, maybe a million-dollar idea.

So we did a thing.

You guessed it, this week was the first of our 30-Day design challenge.  Feel free to have a gander below at our first pieces.  Over the next few weeks’s we’ll be updating this post with more of what surfaces from our time soon!

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