Know what constrains your efforts

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we erect ourselves.” Ronald Reagan

I’m a project management nerd and proud productivity enthusiast. I love helping people.  

One of the primary topics I focus on with clients is understanding the constraints within our work and personal lives.  

In other words, to focus on the essentials and understand what will impact or limit their success.

Everyone must understand one thing (no matter who you are or what your background is): there are limiting factors (LIMFACs) in each effort you undertake.  

Failing to account for them will derail your efforts faster than a Kardashian exploits opportunities for fame.

If you have a difficult time understanding the LIMFACs in your life, here is some help:

1: The Triple Constraints of project management (Scope, Time, Cost) are real.  

Are you trying to do too much (scope)? Committing effort to a project when you are crazy busy (time)? Committing finances to projects in the hope and prayer they pay off (money)?  

When you start a new effort or project, remember to think of constraints and communicate them to the team. If you don’t, you are planning in a vacuum and setting the whole effort up for failure.

2: Honesty is hard to come by.  

Pride kills. It kills efforts, derails teams, and destroys organizations. Be honest about where you are in your efforts. Taking on debt in the hope and prayer that a gamble pays off isn’t typically a recipe for success.

I once worked for an organization that was quickly going broke but was too prideful to stop acting like it was flush with cash. They led employees to believe that all was normal when, in fact, it was far from.  

Can you say “no” to new tasks or a meeting request? Does your pride prohibit you from being honest with people and telling them you are behind on several tasks/projects?

It’s hard for people to admit the truth to others. When they do, don’t overreact and show the anger you feel when you hear the bad news. All you’re doing is ensuring they never attempt to communicate with you in the future. When you shoot the messenger, you often end up killing the organization.

3: Optimism is necessary to maintain sanity, but never be overly hopeful.  

I routinely counsel entrepreneurs that what they are undertaking will take AT LEAST 3x as much as they are planning to spend and PROBABLY 5x as much time as they are planning.

Being a professional is hard work. Keeping a positive mindset during dark times is necessary for good mental health.  

Lying to yourself through overly optimistic estimates will do nothing but add stress to your life and cause you more work (and money) in the long term. 

Wrapping up: LIMFACs exist with people and organizations. You are doomed for re-work or failure if you don’t know what they are.