We live in wonderful times.
Smartphones have brought us instant and continuous stimulation.
For the most part it seems incredible. But obviously there are probably some downsides.
I think one of those downsides is the idea of restrictions. Restricting ourselves to better ourselves.
One of the basic things most parents try to teach children is patience. The idea of putting off stimulation thus usually making the stimulation even better than it would be if we would receive it instantly.
Restrictions seem to be part of human nature. We put them on ourselves. Both good and bad. But today we’re going to focus on the good ones.
Here’s a quick example…
The Shot Clock
Here is a quote from the NBA about the introduction of the shot clock:
Professional basketball was struggling in the early 1950s, and one look at what was taking place on the court explained why. The game was dull, all too often played at a snail’s pace with one team opening up a lead and freezing the ball until time ran out. The only thing the trailing team could do was foul, thus games became rough, ragged, free throw-shooting contests.
“The game had become a stalling game,” Danny Biasone, owner of the Syracuse Nationals, said before his death in 1992.
Something drastic was called for, and Biasone knew what it was. “We needed a time element in our game,” he said. “Other sports had limits — in baseball you get three outs to score, in football you must make 10 yards in four downs or you lose the ball. But in basketball, if you had the lead and a good ballhandler, you could play around all night.”
Biasone’s idea was a shot clock, giving a team 24 seconds to attempt a shot or else lose possession of the ball.
The 24-second shot clock made an immediate impact. In 1954-55, its first season, NBA teams averaged 93.1 points, an increase of 13.6 points over the previous season. The Boston Celtics became the first team in NBA history to average more than 100 points per game for a season, and three years later, every team did it.
“Pro basketball would not have survived without a clock,” said Biasone.
Would not have survived without it.
Our lives are stressed by access to everything. We have few limits or restrictions in our personal and work lives.
To find success, limits are sometimes the answer. Here are some ideas for adding positive restrictions to your life…
1. 1 Hour Free Time Everyday
How much free time do you really have each day?
I know that some time ago I audited my day. Access to the Internet really has allowed for more access to free time activities.
YouTube, social media, instant messengers, etc.
Then there is TV, reading, etc.
We have access to so much.
What about cutting back to just one hour of free time each day? At least during the workweek.
Not counting time with family, time for eating and time for sleeping.
Maybe it’s not one hour, but maybe see what your free time is and look to cut it in half.
2. 1 Coffee
I have to work on this one. I’m a fan of coffee, but if I get to coffee #3 I can feel it. The jitters start to click in.
I don’t know. It comes down to that idea of having something to do with your hands. A coffee. A beer. Back in the days a cigarette. Not for me, but for people of other generations.
Anyway, I have nothing against coffee, but maybe it’d be possible to enjoy it more if we knew we could just have one.
3. 140 Character Emails
Obviously this one is kind of a play on Twitter. And they actually removed that limit now. I’m not against Twitter doubling the character limit. It was just kind of a neat little restriction that really did force people to manage their characters carefully.
I know that in the past I’ve been guilty of making emails way too long. And when I get a long email I rarely keep interest in it beyond the first few paragraphs.
Maybe 140 characters is way too short, but the point is cutting back on long emails.
Send one thought at a time. One per email. Give people a chance to digest the point before adding another point.
I have cut my emails and have seen better response and better implementation.
4. 10 Minute Phone Conversations
I’m not a huge fan of the phone anyway. I find that most of my conversations are either 30 minutes or 60 minutes.
I honestly think it’s because those are the default settings on most calendars. The saying is that we find a way to fill the house no matter the size.
If we get a big house we’ll find stuff to put in it.
The same with phone calls (and with meetings in the next point).
We probably could do most 30 minute calls in 10 minutes. Maybe even most 60 minute calls in 10 minutes.
5. 10 Minute Meetings
See the previous point.
I read this or heard this somewhere. It’s the same idea as cutting a phone call and most phone calls are meetings anyway. Just with people that you can’t connect with in person.
6. 1 Social Media Network
Big one here. Not sure if most could do it. I would struggle.
I’ve been on Facebook the longest, but I really haven’t been on it for five or so years now.
Twitter I’ve been on a long time. That would be tough, but I could probably do it.
The one that I honestly might keep would be Instagram. And I’ve heard that from others and they’ve said it’s because Instagram is mostly positive where others can be so negative.
7. Daily Tasks, To Do List Restriction
This one I’m guilty of doing. And I know many others are. We say “yes” to everything. Our to do lists get crazy long. I know it drives my wife crazy. She puts a lot of stuff on her to do list and sets herself up for disappointment.
She can accomplish a ton in a day, but if she doesn’t check off all the items on that list she feels like she didn’t get done what she needed to.
Look at your daily tasks. See what you’re actually getting done. Cut the rest. Allow some time for surprises to come up because they always do.
Almost like planning to build a house. You need a contingency budget.
8. New Ideas
I see this one with entrepreneurs and executives. There are so many opportunities. So many things that could be done, but obviously trying to do them all will lead to little action.
That’s why it’s important to limit the new ideas and new initiatives.
Keep having the ideas, of course.
But create a priority list and work on the top ones only. And when you have new ones don’t give up on what you’ve been working on too soon.
9. Incoming Messages
I turned off my notifications some time ago and it’s been incredible.
My phone doesn’t beep or buzz every time I get an email or a text. I only see them when I pickup my phone.
I love my phone, but I also love living in the moment in the world around me.
10. 2 Hours Discovery Time Each Week
This one is kind of backwards.
It’s forcing yourself to discover new things each week. Just a little time. Reading a book on a new topic. Watching an online course on a new topic.
Looking for new things to broaden your views on the world.
Restrictions saved basketball. The game wouldn’t exist how we know it today if it weren’t for the shot clock. In fact, it probably wouldn’t exist at all.
And it’s not just sports. We can benefit from restrictions in our private and work lives. And now it may be more important than ever because with technology we have pretty much unlimited access to stimulation.