The blog

Previous article

Next article

25 Mar

Let the limits set you free

Datum: 2014-03-25 10:25

Have you ever con­tem­plat­ed the para­dox of how lim­i­ta­tions tend to some­how set us free and release us from our very own lim­i­ta­tions and con­straints? Some­times we sim­ply per­form bet­ter when put under cer­tain restrictions.

A while ago, I and the Pecha Kucha-ambas­sador Jes­per Lars­son held a work­shop for the infor­ma­tion-unit at the Nation­al Swedish Police Board con­cern­ing the Japan­ese pre­sen­ta­tion-for­mat Pecha Kucha. In this pre­sen­ta­tion-for­mat, a pre­sen­ta­tion con­sists of 20 images which are each dis­played for pre­cise­ly 20 sec­onds – no more and no less.

The restric­tions are in oth­er words quite strict. On top of this the par­tic­i­pants in the work­shop were only giv­en 60 min­utes to in every group cre­ate a pre­sen­ta­tion from scratch. Intense work begun and here and there in the room we could here voic­es exclaim­ing This is so dif­fi­cult!” and There is so lit­tle time!”.

When the hour was up it was time for the groups to give their pre­sen­ta­tions. To be hon­est, it was aston­ish­ing what they had man­aged to cre­ate in just an hour. Sure, the images could use a tweak and touch here and there, but to be able to in such short time and in a group cre­ate a pre­sen­ta­tion which com­mu­ni­cat­ed a mes­sage effec­tive­ly, struc­ture an argu­ment and think of sev­er­al styl­is­tic fea­tures com­ple­ment­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, was remark­able. I am con­vinced that the time-restric­tion made more hap­pen in less time than it oth­er­wise would have (though I am say­ing this now know­ing how this par­tic­u­lar group usu­al­ly works).

Cre­ate a restrict­ing frame to cre­ate more
Some peo­ple say that a task takes as much time to com­plete as we set aside to do it; mean­ing that we fill the time we have with the task at hand. I am not con­vinced that this is always the case, but I def­i­nite­ly believe that we can com­press a task if and when we want to.

When you have a task you fear will require more time than you would like, try set­ting a lim­it in order to get your­self into a high­er gear. And the lim­it does not nec­es­sar­i­ly be set in terms of time. Let us for instance say that you will do the task with just a cer­tain num­ber of some­thing, with­out the tool you usu­al­ly solve the task with (for exam­ple your com­put­er), or by ask­ing five peo­ple (no more and no less) for their opin­ion and advice. I have for instance decid­ed to fin­ish writ­ing this tip before the plane has landed.

If you want to, do this

  1. Choose a task from your to-do-list to try this method on.

  2. Decide what restric­tion or lim­it you will play with.

  3. Define a con­se­quence you will have to suf­fer if you do not fin­ish the task with­in the set time lim­it (or oth­er restric­tion you have set for your­self). Let it hurt a lit­tle, but do not over­do it.

    For me this can for instance be: If there is some­thing I real­ly wish to com­plete since I will feel great once it is done, I will deter­mine that when the time is up I will stop work­ing with the task and instead con­tin­ue lat­er or some oth­er day. This might sound harsh and I nor­mal­ly have a very allow­ing approach towards myself and oth­ers. But, in order for this to work the restric­tion actu­al­ly has to be a restric­tion. Oth­er­wise it will not mat­ter if I make my set end-time or not.

  4. When it is time to do the task, get started.

  5. Com­plete the task.

    In order to do what you want to do with­in the set restric­tion you might need to think of a way to not be dis­tract­ed. This is excel­lent since if you think of a good trick, you might be able to use this in oth­er con­texts and sit­u­a­tions as well.

  6. Did you man­age to com­plete the task with­in the set time-frame, lim­it or restric­tion? Great. Take a moment to feel how good you feel about your­self right now. Done!

    Not so suc­cess­ful? Enforce the con­se­quence you ini­tial­ly deter­mined, but do not think of your­self in terms of fail­ure”, bad” or hope­less”. Instead try think­ing of:
    a) If you set a rea­son­able restric­tion to begin with
    b) What you could do next time to make it eas­i­er to com­plete the task with­in the set limits

  7. Try a dif­fer­ent kind of restric­tion next time. Doing this might very well lead you to new solu­tions you nev­er thought of before.

With­in the frame we loosen up
If you set your own lim­i­ta­tions with­in which you will work, you will work in a way and tem­po which you nor­mal­ly do not. You will have some vari­a­tion in your work-day and if you are the least bit com­pet­i­tive by nature, you will feel moti­vat­ed by chal­leng­ing your­self in this way.

What is your way?
What is your favorite restric­tion which you glad­ly set for your­self? Write a com­ment below and share!