Your curiosity budget

From the latest Product Lessons newsletter:

“Productivity is a double-edged sword. Focusing only on doing more things turns into a quest of finding the easiest boxes to check. It makes you over-optimize for the short-term. A useful antidote is carving out a curiosity budget: time to explore new things.”

The idea comes Scott Belsky, co-creator of Behance. I dig it.

One of my favourite, now-verboten past times was to plunk down at a local coffee shop every morning and go spelunking through saved articles and interesting links.

That was the “intake” part of my day, and I’d usually have a pile of notes by the end of it before starting up the “output” part of my day in the afternoon.

I haven’t done as much idea spelunking in the past year or so. I keep feeling like time not spent on output is time wasted.

I called this out in a recent leadership training session, how it was hard to find the time and defend the time. (Unfortunately the trainer dismissed it with the equivalent of “oh, I’m sure you can squeeze it in somehow”.)

But that’s the thing. “Squeezing it in”, a few minutes here and there, isn’t the same as setting time aside. That’s where this idea of a “curiosity budget” speaks to me. It’s an intentional decision to make the time, not find the time.