Sunday, November 20, 2016

Take the Training Wheels Off

When you are struggling or learning something, it is sometimes useful to introduce some structure or positive constraints. This might mean working in 30-minute pomodoros, tracking every dollar spent, or calorie counting. However, as you develop the habit or skill, sometimes this structure comes back and becomes a limit on further growth. Think of training wheels. In the beginning we need them to help while we train our coordination, balance, and confidence. It doesn't take long for us to outgrow them. Soon the support turns into a crutch. We could still ride just find with those training wheels but it would limit our speed and turning ability.

Its important to build discipline and good habits, and most of us probably never do enough. But its also important to step back and take a look at the reasons for setting up these systems in the first place. Sometimes the original reasons are no longer applicable and we need to adapt again to continue to grow.

I've personally felt this with pomodoros. At first I felt undisciplined, always getting distracted so I decided to do focused work in 30 minute intervals. It certainly helped me be more productive, but I also felt it limited me as I would get distracted and get pulled out of my flow state at each interval. Sometimes I can work for hours straight and not feel distracted or bored. So I decided take off the training wheels. Things feel more natrual and I am as productive as ever. However, I still feel there are good situational uses for pomodoros; if I'm ever feeling lazy or distracted I might go back to this technique for a spark.