How to work within constraints.

This morning, I don't have my regular laptop. I knew this would be happening in advance, so I prepared. I was going to use one of my kids' netbooks. I couldn't get everything done, but enough to not consider the morning a loss. Even better, that kid wasn't going to be here this morning, so problem solved.

Apparently, said kid password protected their netbook recently. I don't have the password, and can't contact them right now. Hmmm. Ok...I've got another PC upstairs. It's old, but it's about the same speed as a netbook. Problem solved, and here I am, typing away.

There are going to be lots of times when we are faced with constraints. Sometimes it's our time that's constrained, other times it's money or skills or environment. Instead of letting them stop us from success, we need to start including them in our plans.

If you're not this person, you know somebody like this. They use the phrase "as soon as" or "if I could only just" quite often. They have a great plan for their business, but it all hinges on several distant goals being achieved. Until those perfect conditions are met, well there's just no way they can be expected to succeed, right?

Plan ahead

Thankfully, I knew that my laptop wasn't going to be with me this morning. So, I did a lot of work last night in QuickBooks, since that's the one app I can't access from just any computer. If you know there's a hurdle approaching, plan for it. And by plan, I don't mean plan for a day off.

If you know your car is in the shop next week, plan for alternatives.

    • rent a car


    • find someone else to run your errands that day


    • research public transit (times, cost, locations, etc.)

You're already going to be slightly less efficient, so don't add planning and research to your day.

Maintain a Plan B

Although I like my computer, I only have 1 app that sits on my desktop that I can't replace. All of my files are synced with Dropbox. My bookmarks are synced with XMarks, and my passwords with LastPass. I also sync all of my Chrome settings, so one login and I've got all of my settings and extensions installed on a new computer. I've even got my iPhone setup so that I don't really need to sync it anymore. I have apps for podcasts, books, and music, so I could be without my computer for weeks before my phone would be affected.

For example, let's say you run a retail business. What happens if the power goes out, or if the network goes down? Do your employees know how to handwrite a receipt? Do they know how to manually process a credit card? Heck, are there batteries in flashlights in case you need to help customers get out of a dark store?

Constraints can be a good thing

I can't get too distracted on this computer. It's slow, so if I want Chrome to run smoothly, I can't have 20 tabs open. If you're riding the bus, you can't just pull over and check out that sale. Constraints, while frustrating at times, help us focus on what's important. If you can only do 1 thing at a time, you're going to focus on the most important thing. And, if you have the right systems in place, you'll have multiple ways of doing that 1 thing, regardless of what life throws at you.