10000 Experiments – Writing 10 Ideas Down a Day

10000 experiments rule

This past month, I discovered the 10,000 experiments rule. Most of the things I do in my life are a series of experiments anyway, so this was perfect for me. It’d be a bit more intentional though, and would involve more documentation.

If you don’t know, the 10,000 experiment rule is spinoff from the 10,000 hour rule. It’s about trying new ideas and seeing what leads from there. It’s based off the scientific method, which is to come up with a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, test the results, and create a new hypothesis based on those results.

You could start with writing 10 ideas each day, not worrying about how good/bad the idea sounds, and seeing what sparks from there. By the end of 3 years, you’ll have come up with 10,000 ideas.

I wanted to make sure that I don’t just write the ideas down, but take action as well. So, I’m making it a goal to write at least 10 ideas down every day and to act on one of those ideas (or previous ideas). Now, this will only add up to just over 1,000 actions by the end of 3 years (if you’re only committing to one action per day). But, keeping track of the ideas themselves are useful as well.

For example, I might have hundreds of ideas for songs. Some might be quite similar. So when I release one song, I’d be able to figure out if other ideas are worth trying or not. It’s about deliberate experimentation.

Some of the greatest achievers in history have worked in a similar manner. The most famous example I can think of it Thomas Edison, who failed several times before inventing an effective incandescent light bulb.

Basketball players miss many shots before they improve their accuracy. Writers publish many works before becoming well-known. Babies babble many sounds before learning how to communicate effectively.

The 10,000 experiments rule can be quite flexible. Some people have used similar frameworks for determining what to learn, where to travel, or what to create. I like that I can choose to narrowly focus, or to broaden my horizons.

Currently, I’m experimenting with a note-keeping system to collect all my ideas and search through them easily. I was initially using pen/paper, but I think a digital notebook would be quite useful, especially when keeping track of which ideas I’ve tried.

Some of the ideas were old ones circulating in my mind, and two were completely new ideas in general. One came up from a recent situation with a creative project. The other one was an idea for a design, based on an observation about some social interaction.

I also try avoid converting my ideas list to a to-do list. Things on my to-do list are things I have to get done, such as routine appointments or filing my taxes. Ideas are more like, “Huh, I wonder what would happen if I tried this.”

I wasn’t sure if I should write more than 10 ideas a day. The only potential downside is maybe information overload. But, having it stored digitally helps me to sift through all the ideas. It’d be a mini Google of my individual brainstorming.

I think writing the ideas down helps to offer more perspective. It’s easy to have an idea in your head and run with it impulsively. It’s also easy to have an idea for days, weeks, months, even years, and never get around to it.

Some ideas are small and easy to achieve, and some ideas require more thought. I think if I were to notice a pattern of a certain general topic emerging, then I’d be more likely to lean into that direction and try something, anything, to see what comes from it.

I also like that none of these ideas have a time limit, per se. I could always decide to try a different idea later. Or if I ever feel stuck, I could look through previous days/lists and draw inspiration from that.

This post was brought to you by Tape Measure® (if you know, you know 😉).

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