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10% time for productive fun

Someone was telling me a few days back about a certain software company that lets employees work on whatever they wish for 20% of their working week. Jim Shores has written an article on a very similar concept. In his article Jim explains the benefits of letting employees spend half a day every week researching any technology or area of their choice. Even if the research is not of immediate importance to the project they are working on, they will still benefit tremendously from the enhanced perspective. Jim mainly talks about spending the research time on technology and working up a small prototype to demonstrate a concept and to increase ones own understanding. The article is available on Jim's website

Along with experimenting with code, other activities that may also yeild good results are reading articles or blogs written by senior software practioners, listening to podcasts, writing, and teaching.
Many articles written by senior developers are very insightfull, because they write about things that they have learned in the trenches. Some are also thought provoking and challenge conventional wisdom. Those who prefer listening will find that some podcasts are extremely informative. Writing and teaching is also a wonderfull way to learn. Both these activities make us think deeper about a topic and very often I have been surprised to learn that there is so much more to a topic that I thought I already knew well.

Jim mentions in his articles that most people who followed his advice were very pleasantly surprised with the results.

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