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Constraint: The Pathway to Freedom in Business?


I think constraint needs a new PR representative because it seriously has a bad reputation.

It doesn’t sound appealing because we think of restricting or limiting. Maybe we think we are missing out on something if we constrain because we have to limit our focus to just one thing.

The concept can incite resistance in some of us because it feels too controlling. Like mandatory austerity measures being introduced so we rebel again the idea of constraining. We want to have the freedom to decide what we work on and when without limitation.

But for some of us too much freedom can feel overwhelming. When there are so many things we could and should be working on, how do we decide? We spend time deciding and re-deciding on multiple occasions - "let’s start here but actually we need to work on this first…" 

Eventually we make a decision and start working, but it gets tricky and we’re not in the mood to persevere today, so we switch tasks and start working on this other deliverable until that becomes troublesome and so the cycle continues. The results we create are all half-finished which slows us down because we can’t completely move on, and we spend lots of time thinking about all the things we haven’t done.

So, why introduce some constraint into our planning? We have limited brain power so giving our brains some direction about what to focus on can be an act of kindness. Making a decision that we’re going to use laser focus for one important part of our business makes it easier because there’s no more decisions required.

How much easier is it to know that Mondays are the day you work on marketing in your business and Thursday mornings are for content creation. Decision was made and now you just get to turn up and do it. No argument or negotiation required.

If we rebrand constraint then I would suggest it be presented as a key to freedom. Constraining our focus gives us back hours in our week because we always have a predetermined destination already decided so we no longer have to waste time debating what we are focusing on today.

And when we encounter difficulties, we work through them because there is no alternative – this is our focus for the day. This means we don’t waste time jumping around from one task to the next interrupting our flow. More time gives us more freedom – and we get to decide how we want to invest our newly redeemed time!

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