The Key Productivity Concept of Constraint

One of the key ideas that I built my system on is constraints. It’s the reason I use a mostly analogue system for my task management.

The idea is that by making it harder to write down some ideas, I’m forced to judge their worth right away. I can’t whip out my phone and jot down some random idea, it has to stew a bit while I walk to my journal and write it down.

Sometimes that means the “awesome” idea I had doesn’t make it into the journal because I forget about it. This is not a loss, it’s your brain telling you the value of the idea.

The good stuff sticks – Cal Fusman

All the resources around us have done so much to help us get tasks done, but removing constraints doesn’t always mean that we can get better work done. In fact there is an emerging trend of less productivity as we add more tools to make work “better”1⁠.

The ease with which we can take a task that was on our list today and turn it into a task for tomorrow by flipping a date actually makes problems for us. We’re terrible at judging our workload in the future, heck we’re terrible at judging how much we can to today. By making it easy to flip tasks forward or on to some other list, we continually push any true evaluation of a task off on the mythical future you that’s so much better looking and better organized.

Surely they can make the decision when you can’t. Surely they won’t be pissed off at you when there are now 200 items on a random Tuesday that need to get done.

Actually, future you hates past you. Future you wishes that it put in the time previously to dig in to the tasks and evaluate them properly instead of kicking the decision down the street again.

Another constraint to embrace with your personal productivity is that you need as few pieces as possible. You don’t need everything new under the sun and three ways to enter new data.

My system has a pocket notebook⁠2 for on the go notes. A Bullet Journal⁠3 for my planning and task management day to day and finally Trello for my project collaboration.

There is nothing else that deals with any of the tasks I have day today.
I don’t have a CRM tool that’s stand alone anymore because it was an inbox I never checked and thus wasn’t getting any value out of. I moved my CRM into my notebook along side all the other tasks that I need to get done in a day.

One item I didn’t mention here is my other notebook, the one that only handles my notes on books. This is outside of my Bullet Journal because it’s got it’s own function. The only thing that goes there are notes on books and ideas for writing that are sparked by the reading I’m doing.

Actions To Identify Your Constraints.

  1. Identify the constraints that help you get work done.
  2. Decide how you might build these constraints into your productivity system going forward.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: If you need help identifying your constraints, we talk about that in time blocking in BootCamp.

Photo by: clement127

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