A Simple Hack To Be More Creative And Productive
In 1960 two friends made a bet that would create publishing history…
Theo Geisel’s, or as you likely know him as Dr. Seuss was offered an intriguing wager. His friend (and book publisher) bet him he could not write an entertaining children’s book using ONLY 50 different words.
Dr. Seuss took the $50 bet and got to work.
Something surprising happened - by limiting the amount of words he could use to just 50, it forced him to be more focused, disciplined and intentional.
Every new word introduced mattered.
By thinking inside the box and not looking for ideas outside of it - compelled him to get creative and eliminate ‘research’ distractions.
He won the bet and wrote his most popular book — Green Eggs and Ham.
Since publication, it has sold more than 200 million copies, making it one of the best-selling children’s books in history!
Pretty good result wouldn’t you say?
::: The Power of Constraints :::
If you want to be more creative.
If you want to be more productive.
If you want to accomplish more by doing less.
Set constraints on yourself.
They could be time constraints, money constraints, energy constraints etc.
By reducing options - it compels us to get creative. To come up with different ways that would not have occurred to us - if the constraint wasn’t present.
In essence, when constraints are present and we stay resourceful — it triggers us to use what is available in novel ways.
For decades psychologists have held the idea that constraints serve as a barrier to creativity — but that’s changing.
Fast Company wrote an article highlighting some of the interesting studies that are bucking the old-paradigm that constraints are a block to your creativity.
::: Use Constraints To Your Advantage ::
Rather than thinking of all the reasons why something can’t happen, train your brain to seek out possibilities.
Instead of using constraints as reasons to stop — condition yourself to think of them as signals for you to START.
To find a way.
To ask more “what if?”, “how could” and “what else?” questions.
For example, if you want to get fit but only have 30 minutes free in your day instead of saying:
“I don’t have the time to work out!”
Step back and ask a better question…
“How can I do a kick-ass workout in 25 minutes?”
If your brain responds with another constraint — “You can’t - you have a young child to take care of, you must stay in”...
…use the constraint (if there really is no feasible way to rearrange things) and the question becomes:
“How can I do a kick-ass workout indoors, in 25 minutes between 6:30 and 7 am?”
[Or whatever window of time you have.]
Suddenly by narrowing the playing field, you expand the options to be more creative.
And you focus your energy on finding or making a way of getting the result, rather than justifying why it can’t be so.
Use this counter-intuitive strategy anytime you need it.
Like Dr. Seuss - by limiting what resources are available; you can go on and do even better work.
Test it out for yourself.
Choose one area where you normally don’t set a constraint and put one there.
It could be something as simple as time-blocking your day to be far more productive.
If you want to learn how to do that - check out this resource by Cal Newport.
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