- When asked, you say "This is the first time I've done this."
- You have no map. Or as Mark Shead once said to me, "We're in unknown territory here."
- You think, "I wonder what would happen if..."
- You are learning something significant. (Question: What does it mean if you're not experiencing this regularly? Why not? Is it time to shake things up?)
- You had an epiphany or insight. (Check out Jonah Lehrer's New Yorker article The Eureka Hunt. I love this: "Insights are quiet and are drowned out by having to do stuff." - my emphasis)
- You made a mistake or experienced failure (insert quotes around both).
- You were surprised.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...' -- Isaac Asimov
- You are measuring something.
- You have anxiety or are afraid of something.
- You have a (any!) problem. (See Why Every Problem Should Be A GTD Project.)
I'm curious: How do you know when you're in the midst of an experiment? Does realizing/acknowledging it help? How do you enjoy the ride? (Check out 18 Ways To Enjoy The Ride At Work, One Way To Enjoy The Ride - Celebrate Surprise!, or Coffee, Booze, And Sex: Is It The Journey Or The Destination?)