Monday, July 21, 2014

Constraints Ignite Your Creativity

 Why Constraints?

Why would you want to be constrained in what you do?  Don't you want unlimited freedom?
Graphic from Lorenzo Perrone on Creative Commons on Flickr

How Can the Use of Constraints Help You?

I have created artificial constraints on myself quite often over the years as a way to trick myself into being more productive and creative.

For example, I long ago read somewhere about the 5 minute blitz for accomplishing daily clean-up chores.  At that time my children were young, I worked a full time job outside the home, and I had trouble keeping the house neat and clean.  So I implemented the 5 minute blitz methodology to attack the clutter with the sometimes cooperation from my family. I would go to the kitchen, yell GO, and set the kitchen timer on the microwave oven for 5 minutes.  Then I would race through the house picking up everything I could find and putting it away.  The children would tackle their rooms.  My husband joined in when he could.  I learned how productive this was.  I had a sense of accomplishment when the 5 minutes was done, and what is really cool is that I became more creative in the way I did the clean up.  I quickly learned to get a basket and rag and carry it with me so I could throw things in the basket, and wipe up any areas in dire need of that.  Then I ran around with the basket to put things away.

Graphic from Kristian Bjornard on Flickr Creative Commons

Ignite Your Productivity and Creativity with Constraints

So seriously, how do these self imposed constraints ignite creativity within us? I have found that if my mind is blank for a new design for my beaded badge lanyards or other jewelry, it helps if I go to my stash of beads and choose one. 

It can be any bead.  If I am truly without any ideas, I close my eyes, wave my hands around in front of my shelves of beads, and grab a box.   Then I open it and either consciously select my favorite, or once again close my eyes and choose one.

In this case, I landed on a box of Czech flower beads and narrowed it down to these yellow tulip beads.

My rule  or constraint is that I must use that bead in my design.  It does not need to be the focal bead.  It could have a supporting role, but I must use that bead.  From there I play with that bead holding it up to others that I can coordinate into a design and usually my creative juices kick in.  I then work to create the design.

Scientific Evidence for Use of Constraints

I started thinking about the need for constraints in our creative business lives when I read this article publish by Buffer titled "The Psychology of Limitations: How and Why Constraints Can Make You More Creative".
The author points out that we can become paralyzed by unlimited choices.  Constraints take away some of these choices and force us to focus on those few choices available within the limitations imposed.  I hope you will read the article and watch the video there about an artist named Phil Hansen.  His injuries to his hand placed limitations on his art, but he found new ways to create his art.

To use this psychology for productivity, many suggest using what is called the Pomodoro Technique.  This is a way for us to focus on a task in a productive manner for 25 minutes after which we stop and take a 5 minute break.  It has been suggested as well to do this for tasks that involve sitting so that we get up for 5 minutes every half hour and move, something that is necessary for our health.
There are so many ways to apply this concept.  Do you have any favorite methods of imposing constraints to ignite your creativity and productivity?  Please share them here.  It would be a fun discussion.

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