Personal Invention Quotas


Can setting a quota, help you accomplish more? It worked for Thomas Edison. In Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition), Michael Michalko writes about how Edison used quotas to improve his results.

Thomas Edison’s Personal Invention Quotas
Michalko writes:

“Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He was a great believer in exercising his mind and the minds of his workers and felt that without a quota he probably wouldn’t have achieved very much. His personal invention quote was a minor invention every ten days and a major invention every six months. To Edison, an idea quota was the difference between eating beefstake or a plateful of Black Beauty stew.”

Key Take Aways
Quotas are a powerful tool for improvement. For example, if you want to change a particular behavior, count the number of times you perform that behavior each day.

Once you set a benchmark, you can tune it. If you first get in your quantity, you can then get in your quality. For example, I wanted to comment more in blogs. First, I decided I would comment in five blogs a day, while I ramp up. Next, once I found my rhythm, I decided to focus on efficiency. From there, I can either improve the quality of my comments, or increase my quota.

I haven’t applied quotas to creating ideas. I already have a large backlog. Instead, I’m considering quotas to implement my ideas.


  1. wow!! quotas for ideas and inventions – that’s fresh to me!!
    I am familiar with sales quotas and disk quotas, but inventions – very cool!!

  2. For the longest time, I had negative associations with “quotas.” They’re a powerful tool for personal change.

  3. I struggle a lot to achieve what I want: to write consistently to my blog and I also want to write a book. But the surprises, and the daily life activities I need to do, I’m kinda thinking can I achieve them. I want to read your blog for help.

  4. thank for stop by and at my blog and my name is Percy baker from Huntsville Al and i am interested people,

  5. Thank you for an intelligent site. I have been using ‘timings’ for years regarding housework organising I had three toddlers and found it was the easiest way to keep my sanity while coping. I hadn’t really thought about using it for my writing except on the number of words slot. I have several notebooks filled with ideas; reading this inspires me to sort them out. Thank you.

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