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The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)

Constraints have benefits

  1. Limitations inspire you to find creative solutions. If you have a one-year-old child that requires all your time, you have to find creative ways to get some exercise.
  2. Constraints force you to get something done. Without constraints, we would postpone our tasks, sometimes indefinitely.

That is why professionals set a schedule for their production while amateurs wait for the perfect moment.

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The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)

The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)

https://jamesclear.com/dr-seuss

jamesclear.com

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Key Ideas

The challenge

In 1960, Theo Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, was challenged to write an entertaining children's book using only 50 different words. The result was the best-selling book, Green Eggs and Ham. It sold over 200 million copies.

The Power of Constraints

Dr. Seuss discovered while writing his book "Green Eggs and Ham" the power of setting constraints.

Setting limits for yourself (time, money, words, etc.) often leads to better results than if you keep your options open.

Constraints are Not the Enemy

We often complain about our limitations. "I don't have enough time." or "I don't have enough money." Every artist has a limited set of tools to create with. Every entrepreneur has limited resources to work with.

Constraints don't hamper you. Once you know your constraints, you can find out how to work with them.

Your limitations

  • You only have half an hour to exercise? That is your limitation. Put those 30 minutes to proper use.
  • Can you only spare 15 minutes each day to write? That is the size of your constraint. Your job is to make it a work of art.
  • You only have $100 to start your business? Great! Make each sales call work for you.

We can complain about our limits or use them. How you use that constraint is up to you.

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Literal language is functional, and is a utility, serving the purpose of communication, while poetry captures the beauty, the essence of an object, doing away with the descriptions and linear definitions.

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Our expression of creativity is born out of the interactions and experiences we keep having. The canvas that we paint can be cohesive and whole or can be broken and messy.

The Truth Shines

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This quality shines through in the writings and works of genuine artists. Maybe their poetry, which is seemingly so profound, isn’t poetry at all, but pure truths that they have simply expressed honestly.

Constraints and productivity

If you make work a scarcer quantity, you’re more likely to use time wisely and get things done than if it feels like an endless to-do list.

And you cand do this by restricting your hou...

Time vs workload
  • Restricting hours: set aside a certain chunk of time for work and don’t work outside of it. For example, the Pomodoro technique for working in short bursts of time.
  • Restricting workload: instead of deciding on a set number of hours, you decide on a set number of tasks. 
Constraining time

The biggest advantage of constraining time is that it’s always unambiguous. If you decide to work for three hours and then stop, there’s no confusion there.

Disadvantage: time constraints can encourage a sloppier attitude towards work. For example, you might decide to spend all day studying in the library—but without tasks to constrain your productivity, you end up checking your phone.

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