Time pressure

I spent the last twenty minutes searching for inspiration to write something worth sharing today. I went through a list of ideas and links on my OneNote, started and stopped two drafts, and thought about a few lessons from the past few days. Still, nothing. Today is the day off for Labor Day (venture capitalist Albert Wenger has a thoughtful post up on the subject – thanks as always, Albert). It occurred to me that I would have finished writing the post by now if this was any other weekday. The difference is the absence of time pressure. I know I have longer than the usual twenty minutes.

I have come to realize that you don’t just learn important life lessons. No, the important ones are re-learned again and again and again. You may learn once that gratitude greatly contributes to happiness. But, it isn’t a one and done thing. To make it a part of who you are, you commit to re-learning it regularly. And, once it is a part of how you operate, you just re-learn its importance every single day. In some ways, a good life is just a collection of integrative principles that you learn and re-learn and then re-learn again.

The power of time pressure is one of those ideas. We all know constraints build creativity. I certainly have written about that at least once every year in the past 8 years or so. But, it still isn’t a part of how I operate. Yes, I remember it every once a while. But, I can think of at least three times in the past two weeks when I’ve wished for no constraints. Wouldn’t it be better if there was no time pressure to finish this? Wouldn’t it be better to not have financial constraints?

No, it wouldn’t be. The tension of time pressure is a beautiful tension that pushes us to be efficient and creative. I always remember my time at a client project a few years ago when the shuttle to the train station left at 530pm. As it was a long commute back to the city, most folks left then. And, the afternoons were always very productive because you knew you couldn’t stay in the office any longer. I still imitate a “get out at 530pm” schedule to this day thanks to that experience. I thought I’d learnt it. But, not really. I still don’t appreciate constraints as much as I should.

Maybe a first step would be to stop whining about time pressure. Writing here under time pressure on most days ought to be a daily reminder of that idea. So, here’s to more appreciation of constraints..

And, of course, here’s to time pressure.