Creating the Right Constraints Can Boost Your Performance

Hi, Bob Lucchesi here, and we’re on our fourth day of The Writer’s Life, discussing how our limitations don’t hold us back, but actually help us succeed.

Earlier this week, we’ve discussed how the power of our limitations guide us to develop a canvas on which we’ll choose which paints and brushes to use – decisions and actions for painting our picture of success.

And, we learned that even with limitations, successful people just get started in pursuit of their dreams … they don’t wait until they’re “ready.”

But, what if you don’t have any limitations?

Huh? But we all have limitations, you say … and that would be true …

But, what if you don’t have the right limitations.

Let me explain …

If you’re still buzzing around in corporate America and you’re a good worker bee, you’ll relate to this …

A boss has an important project she needs to get done by the end of the month, and she has two people she can assign the job to …

First, there’s Kyle. He’s the guy who in meetings always espouses how busy he is, so he can’t take on any new assignments. But, you always see Kyle chit-chatting in the break room, around the copy machine or in Suzy Q’s cubicle.

Then, there’s Jane. She usually volunteers to take on assignments in the meetings, takes breaks and lunch at her desk to catch up on work, and stays late.

Now, the boss has to get this time-sensitive project done by the end of the month … and she also realizes Kyle has plenty of time to get it done and that Jane is on the brink of being overloaded.

So … who would you give the assignment to?

Unequivocally, you give it to Jane, and that’s exactly who the boss will give it to.


Because there is an adage that’s been around corporate America for a long time – I’m sure you see this where you work – “If you want to get something done, give it to someone who’s busy!”

Why is that?

Because Jane will prioritize the jobs she has and schedule her time to get them all done before the deadline.

Kyle, on the other hand, won’t prioritize or schedule his time … he’ll wait until the last minute, rush through the project doing shoddy work, and then toss it on his boss’s desk … ‘cause he’s got to rush into the break room to check out the new vending machine they just installed!

What’s the difference between the two?

Jane uses her constraints to boost her performance … while Kyle has no real constraints; therefore, he’s a floating jellyfish in the workplace floating here and there and not getting anything done.

Create the right constraints and you’ll boost your performance.

First, your constraint has to be specific …

AWAI is a great resource to improve your skills as a copywriter, and they’ve got a myriad of award-winning programs, workshops and webinars … sooooo many choices …

So, build a constraint, such as, “I can only choose one program.”

Now, refine that constraint more … “I will not choose another program until this one is done.”

Good, refine it more … “I will only give myself 30 days to finish the program.”

Now, with a 30-day deadline constraint, you’ll need to carve out time – so, put a constraint on that, as well …

“I will only watch TV for 30 minutes a night during the week and one sporting event on the weekend” … “I will only look at Facebook for 10 minutes a day before bed” … “I will not meet the guys for drinks after work this month.”

Then, you can refine these constraints even further by scheduling exactly when and where you’ll work on the program. Starbucks may not be the best environment for you to learn the program – or it may … be as specific and detailed as you can with your constraints.

The important thing is for you to impose strict constraints, so you can boost your performance and get the job done … just like Jane.

I think you can see now that, by imposing the right constraints on yourself, you can actually get more done …

And you thought your limitations and constraints were holding you back – HA!

I’d like to know what specific constraints you plan to impose on yourself to get whatever project you’re working on done. Just let me know here in the comments.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss how looking at your limitations is all about perspective … and how having the right perspective makes all the difference.

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Published: September 10, 2015

13 Responses to “Creating the Right Constraints Can Boost Your Performance”

  1. Your examples of Jane and Kyle are very true as I see it repeatedly in the corporate world.

    It's frustrating to see good workers "punished" with additional assignments while the 'skates' manage to get by.

    It would make more sense to let the Kyles go and hire more Janes, but for some reason most firms will not do so. Don't get it.

    Karl J

  2. It's all about how you spend your time. You can waste it on meaningless activities or spend it wisely on things that build your business. Thanks for the reminder that we need to apply ourselves to the most important tasks in front of us, set realistic deadlines, and meet or surpass them.

    Mark R

  3. The most insightful, inspirational an invigorating AWAI newsletter ever - loveeee

    I am swimming in a sea of overwhelm: I want to master the SEO fundamentals, White Papers, EMail Newsletters, Copywriting, read more books, write more for myself, pitch more, win more paying clients, do a good job, write one e-book and one 150 page book, start my website, update my social profiles and content mill profiles,,

    PHEW - so much to do and so Id o

    Thank you, Bob!

    Guest (Kit)

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. It has been such a great help to me. Wow, the power of words, and not trying to get too much done at one time. I loved what you said Bob. You just aimed right what I was doing!!! I was so overwhelmed I wasn't getting much done at all. I will be applying all that you brought out here in these great words of wisdom. Thank you soo much!!! :~D


  5. Television + Sofa + Remote Control = Enormous waste of productive time!

    Not a constraint, per se, but every life is improved with a lonely television.

    Turn it off. Turn on your imagination!

    Rick from Virginia

  6. Attn: Bob Lucchesi This is my first (response),I will write about it went i am alone,in the afternoon no one's here,no noise.

    Guest (Nelson)

  7. Hi Bob. If nothing else I've read at AWAI has made an impact, this segment has. I'm working on defining my specific constraints tonight. Thank you so much for this motivator.

    Guest (Kelvin)

  8. One thing is true, we all have 24 hours in a day. It's how you use them that counts.

    Guest (Joanne)

  9. I would like to impose self discipline i.e. Workout and Meditation daily. This wil increase my efficiency and to carryout more work in the available time.

    And of course, prioritise things and spend minimum time on the essentials by reducing the time spent on routine and unimportant items.

    Guest (K Venkatasubbu)

  10. Wow!
    That was the most helpful post I have read so far by AWAI! (No offense, other peoples...)
    I'm a stay-at-home mom with two little little ones, plus meals to make, house to constantly clean... I never feel like I have enough time for anything else....
    Applying this: limiting my "free-range" computer time - suddenly opened up hours I didn't realize I lost here and there, ten/twenty minutes at a time...

    Ashley Elizabeth Blair Tetzlaff

  11. Your remarks and suggestions about constraints were quite pertinent. So much so, this is the first time I've responded.

    Why would I feel so moved by this topic of constraints? It hits the nail on the head. I paused and reflected on my life. This in turn created an ah ha moment as I realized what I was doing. Buying program after program and never finishing them.

    To summarize: I have established a 2 month deadline to become good enough at copywriting and see some tangible income. As an ultimate motivator, my survival may well depend on me getting good very quickly.

    Guest (David Phillips)

  12. Sometimes, the ONLY thing one's gotta do is EVERYTHING. And if THAT's not enough, think how miserable you'd be if you hadn't done ANYTHING.

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  13. This was so inspiring and dead on. Thanks for this post. I am all over the place with trying to figure out my copywriting niche, that I can't stick to one decision. It has hindered me from buying any program at all. You said "successful people just get started." That is all I have to do, is start.


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