In life we’ll encounter countless rules – these so-called guidelines dictating how we should live, work, and behave.

But, blindly following these rules all the time is a huge productivity killer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating anarchy or suggesting we should completely toss out all rules and norms. They serve their purpose in providing structure and order in our society. But it’s also important to realise that many rules are just constructs – they aren’t universally true or absolute.

In his book ‘Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World’, Adam Grant tells the story of Warby Parker, the successful eyewear company. This company was built on a rule-breaking premise: who says eyeglasses can’t be stylish, affordable, and sold online? Warby Parker’s founders saw the rule, questioned its validity, and ultimately shattered it, leading to their incredible success.

But it’s not just about corporations or entrepreneurs. This rule-breaking mantra can be applied to personal productivity too.

For example, we often bind ourselves with rules like ‘I need to work 9 to 5’ or ‘I can only be creative in the morning’. But, there’s a lot of research that suggests this isn’t always true.

One study from from the University of Iowa showed that people have different peak productivity times – some people are early birds and others are night owls. So, rethinking some of the rules we set ourselves could mean hitting new levels of personal productivity.

This rule-breaking notion also ties into an idea called ‘lateral thinking’. Essentially, it encourages us to solve problems through an indirect and creative approach.

Let’s use Picasso as an example here: Picasso was formally trained in the classical style, full of rules about perspective, colour theory, and realistic representation. But, he felt restricted and unfulfilled by these rules. So he decided to break them.

He began experimenting with form, colour, and perspective, bending and twisting the “rules” of art as he saw fit. His unique style came to be known as Cubism, and it completely upended the art world. Picasso’s bold rule-breaking approach wasn’t just about artistic expression; it was a new form of productivity. He was no longer confined by the limitations of traditional art, and this freedom allowed his creativity to flourish.

So the next time you find yourself bound by a rule, take a step back and question its validity. Ask yourself: “Is this rule helping or hindering my productivity?” You might just find that bending or breaking that rule will open a whole new world of efficiency and effectiveness.

Quote of the Day

The way we do small things determines the way we do everything.
Robin Sharma

Tool of the Day

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