The most successful and innovative companies in the world constantly run experiments, why? Experiments concretely allow them to see what is working and what's not and what can be improved. For example, Gojek— a $10b startup —launches 1 new experiment every single day.
They aren't the first ones to do so and won't be the last ones to. It's obvious we can apply experimentation to our companies but how can we apply it to us?
There is a simple benefit of experimenting, growth, you'll know what works for you and what doesn't.
How to experiment
If you're anything like me, you get tons of ideas, and even if you don't, I'm sure you consume some content involving other's lifestyles. These ideas or learnings sit idle if you don't implement them— so how do you implement them?
Say the idea/experiment is to see how you'd do without social media. Start off by getting someone to hold you accountable, in this case, you could just put out a story/tweet about you quitting. This enforces self-discipline to beat out long-term habits like checking Instagram every hour.
Pick and quantify variables and duration
Secondly, pick variables and a duration. If you want to be formal about it— make a doc with the variables to measure and how you're going to track them. Or if you're too lazy to do that like me, you can simply rely on self-observation, however, this can get biased.
With quitting social media we can track 2 variables: Productivity levels, and happiness levels;
for about 1 week.
Now when experimenting in a company, it would be simpler to quantify results but in life you need to think and quantify abstract variables like happiness — this would vary from person to person based on their interpretation but generally in my opinion happiness would mean you're satisfied, motivated and have a positive/optimistic attitude. Productivity would be work done in a week.
If you're going with the formal approach, track these manually at the end of each day in the doc for a week or you want to do it casually, keep the factors in mind and reflect on them at the end of a week.
Like in a scientific experiment, you need a baseline, if it's a habit like checking social media you're experimenting with, you already have a baseline— the past week. Before beginning, reflect or tabulate the variables to track, of the previous week.
Once you've reflected on the variables, you could go one of three ways. Return to your original state or integrate the idea ( in this case staying off social media) into your life or slightly modify the original idea and integrate.
A word of caution
I recently learned to take into account a 'mental health tax' when starting a new experiment. As an experiment would naturally be challenging, please consider the effect a new one will have on you. You can weigh the benefit if you're right against the stress of if you're wrong!
An Actual Example
A recent example of an experiment I did was not eating lunch! I realized that if I didn't eat lunch at all— I'd have an extra hour I needed and stay healthier but I wasn't sure if that'd work.
In this case, the variable to measure is hunger and time saved.
When I skipped lunch for a few days, I found that I would usually end up eating something unhealthier in the evening while feeling tired and would procrastinate— clearly a negative result. However the benefits of not eating were great so I iterated instead of giving up and found a solution that's healthier and saves time ( both the variables)— which is just to have a 15-minute snack around 3 PM.
Okay, this has been a nerdy one, hope it helped :)