This month, we’ve covered how different thinking is central to our core vision at Digital Pudding. It informs the campaigns and strategies we create every day, not because we choose, but rather due to forces that have shaped who we are. Basically, thanks to my own mild autism, we tackle challenges from angles that others don’t even see.
Thanks to my unique abilities, I like to think about different ways we can organize the world around us in the simplest, most streamlined fashion. Sometimes, I’ll get awesome ideas that make total sense from an organizational standpoint yet have no practical way of becoming a reality. Here are some of my favorite.
A Base 8 Number System
First, a quick refresher on what a base number system means. You may remember them vaguely from middle school math class. The base indicates when an integer column rolls over to the next. Most modern numbers systems are base 10, so you can count up to nine before activating a new digit column. For a real-world example of a different number set, binary is a base 2 system. No integer beyond 1 is useable in a binary system. This is how you count to 5 in binary: 1, 10, 11, 100, 101.
With me so far? Good. So I think it would be an awesome idea to count up to 7 and then roll over to 10. Why? Because of the way numbers double.
Start at one, then double it as many times as you can before you lose track of how many you have. It’s not easy, is it? One, two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, etc. Imagine if each of those numbers was round? One, two, four, ten, twenty, forty, one-hundred, two-hundred, etc. How much easier is that to learn?
This is what is known as an Octal system and it’s already in use in some circles. There are additional number systems that could work even better, like the Dozenal method, which adds two new numbers to the scale to account for all the different things people count in twelves, from inches to music notes. I don’t care how many fingers we have; basing all numbers on ten doesn’t make a ton sense.
The 5 Day Week
Alas, I accept that we’re doomed to keep living in a base 10 world. I know this. So let’s examine one way we can leverage that power.
There are 365 days in most years (more than 75%, at least). We group these days into 7 day weeks. Wouldn’t it make more sense to group them into weeks of 5 days instead?
The concept of the week is archaic, based either on the phases of the moon or the Book of Genesis, depending on who you ask. Furthermore, since seven does not divide evenly into 365, every year holidays fall on different days of the week. This can get confusing. It’s beyond time we made the week more efficient.
If we adopted a five-day week, there would be 73 weeks most years with no remainder. In fact, if you subtract one week, you have a number that divides evenly by 12. We could even keep the same number of months with this system! Only this time they’d all be 30 days, and six weeks long.
Weekends and work weeks would have to change, though they’re already changing in many places. I’m open to either a 3/2 or a 4/1 split, though culture is trending toward the former. That’s 12 off days each month instead of 8-10. Sounds like a good deal to me.
But what do we do with that extra week? And leap years? I have a simple and elegant plan for them. Add those extras to the end of the calendar and treat them as a holiday week. No work or school. Just more bonus time for friends and family. Even more to love about this awesome idea.
Wednesday’s Off Every Week
If we have to live in a world with 7-day weeks, fine. I have awesome ideas for that, too.
There’s a lot of chatter about companies shortening the work week to four days. Ordinarily, this talk is about staying home on Friday, giving everyone a three-day weekend. However, the more optimal way to make a four-day work week happen would be to stay home on Wednesday.
You lose a lot of productivity and momentum in your professional life by taking two days off in a row each week, and even more if you take three. Think of how bad Monday would feel if you know you have to fit a week’s worth of work into just four consecutive days.
Instead, spread it out a little better and maintain your sanity by taking that extra day in the middle of the week. It can help you recharge and refocus while keeping your work momentum. Plus, you’d get that Friday feeling twice a week, and once on a Tuesday. Sounds like an awesome idea to me.
Two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than working for four days then sleeping in for three, dreading Monday approaching as you do.
Sleeping Five to Nine
If you want to rest up for that job, you might want to reconsider the way you’re sleeping. It’s a relatively well-documented fact that people have only recently started to sleep 8 hours at a time. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, people slept in two four-hour blocks, a first sleep and a second sleep.
The first would come on at around dusk and last until around midnight. People then woke up for a few hours, a period called “the watching” that consisted of restfulness and quiet reflection. This would last for a few hours before people fell back asleep for another four hours and wake at dawn.
I’m doing one better. Fall asleep at 5 pm, wake up at 9 pm, then do it again in the AM sleeping from 5 to 9. You maximize your wakefulness with each eight-hour period while still getting eight hours of sleep each day.
One caveat. You’d have to do this twice a day and presumably have to experience the same period of drowsiness before going to sleep and right after waking up twice a day. It’s also not very practical if you have a job that needs you from 9-5. However, if you could swing this, think of the benefits to your productivity.
Two Time Zone America
Speaking about time management, how terrible is Daylight Savings Time? Moving forward an hour each year leads to a spike in deaths, traffic accidents and confusion while lowering productivity across the board. It’s entirely impractical and needs to be scrapped. But that’s not a new idea.
What doesn’t get as much play is how much productivity is lost in a country that spans four time zones. Bicoastal companies and industries have to coordinate schedules where one set of workers is out to lunch while the other set is just coming into the office at 9.
So instead of four individual time zones for the continental, US, what if we simplified everything and created just two, separated by the Mississippi River, only separated by one hour? Everything from TV schedules to conference calls would be made easier. Productivity across state lines increases. Figuring out what time it is where becomes simple.
I can’t take full credit for this idea, as awesome as it may be. And there are significant concerns with it, most notably solar noon being so off in many of these places. The time in New York and California would only differ by an hour, yet sunset would really happen three hours apart. These aren’t minor problems, though it’s still a pretty awesome idea.
National Elections on July 4th
What’s more patriotic than voting?
Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way, likely due to imbalanced incentives. Voter turnout in many elections is low because many people prioritize making money over making democracy. It’s not easy for everyone to get to the polls on a Tuesday in November, let alone all those special elections that can be just about any time.
So, let’s increase voter turnout by encouraging people to show up at the polls. If we voted on a day where most people did not have to work, we could accomplish significantly higher turnout percentages. People would be more engaged in their elections because they know they wouldn’t be skipping the vote. This would also move election day from a date with many conflicts with year-end holiday planning to a date with relatively few conflicts as many people work less in the summer. Couple that with a fireworks display and backyard barbecues and you have yourselves a true American holiday. Works for me!
The traditions are already entrenched so this is extremely unlikely. What’s more likely is turning the existing Election Day into a national holiday in its own right, which is also an awesome idea. Either way, something should be done to turn civic duty into a spot of national pride.
Asymmetrical Thinking Leads to Awesome Ideas
These are just a few of the wild and crazy thoughts that run through my head when thinking up novel solutions to complex problems. Proof positive that an alternate mindset can lead to really interesting insights and progress.
Remember, every groundbreaking achievement, every earth-shattering concept, every mind-blowing revelation, started with a wild idea. Nothing comes from nothing. It takes fresh perspective and even a completely new way of thinking to come up with the awesome ideas that will shape our future.