Organize Yourself in 2015–Identify Your Key Constraints


Your plan, combined with your passion, will move you forward towards achieving your goals.   But sometimes on the way to achieving those goals, you encounter something that prevents you from attaining it, a constraint which limits your efficiency.

In the thirteen chapter of his book Eat That Frog! on preventing procrastination, Brian Tracy states this principle of improving your ability to organize yourself, and that is the subject of today’s post.

1.   The Pareto Principle in Action

The Pareto Principle applied to constraints means that only 20% of the limiting factors are external to you or to your organization, which means that 80% of them are internal to you or your organization.   This is actually good news because these 80% are factors which, being internal, are under your control.    You can do something about them!

2.  Examples of Constraints

You should identify goals that you set for yourself in the past which you have not been able to achieve, or those “frog” tasks which you have either put off or not completed.   What’s the limiting factor or constraint which is preventing you?

a.  People

Is there someone’s help you need?   Or someone’s decision you need to get first before completing a task?

b.  Weakness (at certain critical skills)

Is this a task which you don’t want to do or that you don’t feel you can do because you are not sure how to do it?   Then you may need to read a book or watch a YouTube, or get advice from someone who does know how to do it?

c.  Time

Is this a task which you gave yourself an hour to do, and you realized when you got into it that it would at least 4 hours, or even 4 days to do?    Well, here’s where you can invite others to help by delegating parts of it to others.

d.  Cost

It may be that you realize that the materials you need for your task are not at hand and you have to go and purchase them.  Or you go to purchase them and you realize that they are going to be more expensive than you had anticipated.

e.  Fear

Don’t underestimate this as a constraint on your achieving your ambitions!    Let’s say someone says their goal is to be a better public speaker.    I would recommend them to join Toastmasters just like I did a little over 4 years ago now.    Let’s say you join the Toastmasters Club and your task is write your first speech.   But every time you think about being in front of a group of relative strangers and pouring your heart out, your pen freezes up and you can’t think about what to write.  It could be that fear of doing that speech is causing your temporary “writer’s block.”   Try to face your fears, but if you have difficulty doing that, then read the book The Now Habit, by psychologist Neil Fiore, Ph.D., which helps you uncover the psychological reason(s) for your procrastination and helps you to overcome it.

3.  Key Question about Key Constraints

The best way to get the most mileage out of the idea of constraint is to ask yourself the following key question:

What one goal, if I achieved it in the coming year, would have the greatest positive effect on my life?

Determine the one key constraint, internal or external, that prevents you from accomplishing this goal or slows your pace down towards accomplishing it.

Then take one step, any step, towards eliminating that constraint!   You will have done yourself a service the magnitude of which will only become apparent later after you reach your goal, look backwards and say with a sigh, “I made it!”

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