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Are you useful?

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

I preach about the miracle of constraints and their ability to boost creativity in anyone. But I see un-useful constraints being used all the time by creators, so I wanted to make a small list of examples to clarify what a useful constraint looks like.

There’s only two real constraints when publishing anything online:

What is useful to your audience?


  • Getting to the point
  • Finding obscure ideas, people, and resources for solving specific challenges
  • Finding entertaining ideas, people, and resources
  • Providing more value than you ask for in return
  • Having a consistent publishing schedule

Not useful:

  • Over-designing to seem professional rather than human
  • Over-formatting for topic: Podcasting like you’re on the radio in the 90s (you don’t need segments)
  • Over-formatting for style: Emailing or blogging with sections for links versus essays (readers don’t care)

What is useful for you?


  • Time blocking your work
  • Having a consistent publishing schedule
  • Limiting word counts
  • Limiting when or how your work is published
  • Using process-based templates and automation
  • Being imperfect and humanizing your publishing (versus “personalizing”)
  • Ridding yourself of any work unrelated to your objective (like stressing over photos when consistent writing is your goal)

Not useful:

  • Using templates and automation that detract from your publishing voice
  • Being overly acceptable to everyone
  • Limiting or expanding your publishing based on SEO or trends

As you can see, there’s some overlap in those examples. When you find a constraint that works for you and your audience – like publishing a one-paragraph newsletter every day or creating visual essays on the backs of business cards – you’ve found a set of successful constraints. Congrats!