Today, I divide my work up into experiments and projects. I attribute this concept to Neville N. Medhora. I wish he had taught me sooner.
When I was growing up I was always puzzling on something – usually something way beyond my reach – to figure out. I took apart any electric or electronic device that I got my hands on. I wanted to know what was inside, what made them work. Sometimes, I got them back together. My dad called it piddling, which I heard to mean failure. Looking back, it was not failure at all. It was exerimenting and even when I couldn’t get something back together or make it work again, the expermient was not a failure. Nor was it pathetically trivial or trifling (the actual meaning of piddling). To some degree it was a success because the intention was to puzzle and learn and I did.
So, today I break my work up into experiments and projects. The intention and end of an experiment is to puzzle on something and learn.
Projects are different. Once I classify something as a project, the intention is a finished deliverable, by a deadline, under budget. Projects are the “get after it” portion of my life.
This differentiation has helped me because I can now experiement without the stress of a budget or a deadline. I am experimenting for the sake of learning. Sometimes I can just take something apart, see what makes it work, and not even try to put it back together. I’m learning.
But once I classify something as a project, it has to get done and it has to work.
For me, that is the difference between an experiment and a project.