Autonomy is a good thing. Not directing our autonomy, however, is dangerous. I struggle without a plan. I struggle without principles that direct my actions. That’s why I made a change.

I’ve worked from home for over a year now, and I’ve learned a lot. I enjoy it. But as with anything, there’s room for improvement. Last week I made my most impactful shift yet, I set rules as to when I would allow myself to work. Previously I had no set start time and no set end time. Depending on the day, no matter the time, I could be working. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my modus operandi was not serving me. Surprisingly, limiting the times I can work increased my productivity and allowed me to more thoroughly enjoy my time not working.

It’s just like procrastination in school, when you have two weeks to get an assignment done, it probably won’t get done until the night prior. In the work-from-home setting, I didn’t always give a ton of energy to the first half of my day because I knew I could always make up for it later in the day.

But now I can’t. I have to bring intentionality to every minute I spend in what I consider to be my working hours so that I can accomplish what I set out to.

Paradoxically, constraints allowed me to expand into a new best. And this extends beyond school and work. Limiting ourselves allows us to more fully explore the activities we’ve deemed worthy. The less we do, the more fully we can do those few things. The less time we allow ourselves to do something, the more of ourselves we bring to doing that thing.

How could you benefit from limiting yourself or introducing constraints?

We want to reduce the possibilities of our actions, do what we know works, and enjoy the power of constraints.