The power of constraints

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

I recently shared how I believe constraints spark creativity. Here’s how artificially limiting scope, time, or space can improve productivity.

1. Scope

This Atomic Essay is the perfect illustration of artificially limited scope:

  • Write in less than one hour.
  • 300 words maximum.
  • Edit in 10 minutes.

These constraints are purely artificial, only stemming from my agreement to follow the @ship30for30 recommendations. Yet, on my third essay, they already give me high confidence in my ability to achieve the challenge because they limit my ability to wander, digress, perfect, and ultimately procrastinate.

2. Time

I could easily fill my entire week of zoom calls. So I decided to limit my hours on video calls to 24 per week, roughly half of my working time.

Beyond the obvious benefit of saving the other half of my time for reading, writing, and staying focused, this artificial limitation forces me to decline some of the invitations, which in turn leads me to prioritize ruthlessly.

As a result, by reducing the time spent in front of the camera by half, I still get most of the value because the calls I keep are the most important ones.

3. Space

On my phone, I have one single screen with apps. At the bottom, the four most used ones. Above that 16 others that I use at least daily. At the top is a widget where Siri suggests a selection of eight others across my library.

I didn’t delete all the other apps; they are on the phone but not accessible directly from the home screen. So if I need one, I have to search for it.

As a result, I reduced the time spent on wasteful apps tenfold. What I do not see I am not tempted to use. Therefore, I only launch those apps and intentionally search for them when I need them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *