On the freedom of constraints

It’s a paradox but it’s true: Constraints help boost productivity.

Somewhat related is the common quote¬†that “discipline will set your free.”

Setting time constraints is clearly a way to focus the mind. I wrote a quick post on this. There are, however, also constraints on the form of your creative product that can help as well.


  • Twitter: Having only 140 characters eliminates creative hesitation. People who might never create a blog post are prolific tweeters. And there’s real value, in the aggregate, of the creative output this 140 character limitation has caused.
  • Haiku:¬†These are poems with a small constraint just like on twitter. It’s really fun to debate and wrestle with only 17 syllables. If you’re trying to write a book and you want to make sure every word is perfect, you’ll be working on it for eternity and still not finish. With 17 syllables you feel like with a little bit of thought you can get close to the perfect words to say something in a short time.
  • Bootstrap or any frontend, grid-based design framework: You can still basically do anything within a design grid but having a grid system to design within boosts confidence in the reliability of the final product and that makes creating more fun.

The hardest thing I do might be to write a post on this blog because there is no set format.

I like M.G. Seigler’s idea of trying to restrict his blog posts to 500 words with his blog 500ish.com. I should have thought of that.