How I Doubled My Creativity and Productivity by Creating Scarcity

I’m a writer without the use of his hands…what am I going to do?

Those were my thoughts as the doctor put my broken wrist into a splint. For the next month, I wouldn’t be able to type.

Being an old-fashioned guy, my doctor suggested buying a notebook and pen. A fine idea, but it doesn’t quite work for writing articles on the Internet. So I came home, opened Google, and searched for solutions to my problem.

I found the answer was pretty quickly, actually—voice dictation software. It allows you to speak into the microphone to type, rather than typing on your keys.

Forget that!

I thought as I immediately rejected the idea of talking to my computer all day.

Last time I tried something like that, it hardly worked. It's not worth the hassle.

So I rejected the idea and continued searching for other solutions. I have no idea what I was looking for, but I was quite sure that any other solution would be better than voice dictation software.

But…I found nothing. I was going to have to talk to my computer whether I liked it or not.

So I did the research, saw how others used it, and was amazed by the praise from other authors who claimed they loved it so much, they never typed at all! I also discovered that one of the best dictation tools was actually installed and available for free on my Mac, so I had nothing to lose.

Okay, I thought, I suppose it doesn't hurt to try...

Getting it all set up was tough at first. I was talking in my usual slang, mumbling words rather than speaking clearly, and getting frustrated when it messed up entire paragraphs. But after about a week of adjusting, I could write an article just as fast as before.

As I continued to adjust, I started speaking more clearly, the software started recognizing my accent, and suddenly I found I could write even faster than I was before.

And after just two weeks with the new software, I was writing about twice as fast!

Then with the extra time at my disposal, I started making the most out of the tool. I found another app called “Automator” that allows you to create voice commands like "begin new article" and it will open up a new word document.

So in addition to writing faster, I was also answering emails faster, organizing my tasks faster, and overall accomplishing more with my time.

This week, my wrist is fully healed, but I have no plans to go back to typing again.


Despite this endorsement for voice dictation software, I know that about 0-1% of you are going to be motivated to install your own after reading this. A month ago I certainly wouldn’t have—even if my favorite authors recommended it! (For the 0-1%, check out this beginner's guide).

It’s only because I had to use the software that I realized just how powerful it could be. 

The necessity forced me to see first hand how it could improve my productivity and even my health (I’ve had issues with my wrist from over typing before).

This is the power of scarcity. If you remove options, resources, tools, etc. you can tap into your creativity and find innovative solutions that help you reach your goals more effectively.

For those who don't want to break a bone to see benefits, here are 3 ways you can use scarcity right now to tap into your true potential:


When I was launching The Will of Heroes back in February, I felt like I was out of new ideas for article topics. My writing felt stale and boring. It was as if I was just repeating the same information over and over again.

I was bored writing articles, so I can’t imagine how bored you were reading them. And anytime I tried to head in a “new direction” I found myself coming to the same conclusions…no matter what. For the first time with Willpowered, I had writers block. I just couldn’t think of any fresh ideas.

What finally broke me out of the creative funk was following the "Louis C.K. Rule." 

This rule states that at the end of each year, you must throw out all the material you covered in the last year. So I couldn't write about anything already on the site, and I was forced to explore new, deeper topics. [1]

The instant I made that decision, I felt a rush of new ideas hit me like a tsunami. I couldn't believe I hadn't covered anything on addiction, fear, failure, or personal lessons like this one. All of these ideas became clear when my mind wasn't clouded by my previous work. 

If you have the courage to wipe the slate clean, remove your options, and force your brain to come up with new ideas, you will be surprised by the creativity you will find in yourself. [2]


The clock struck 1 AM… but I still wasn’t finished…

I was writing some new code for the site in a programming language that I wasn’t familiar with. It was only supposed to be something I worked on quickly before bed at 10, but here I was, several hours later, and obsessed with getting this right.

I was trying over, and over again. But for some reason, it just wasn’t working.

Finally, after yet another failed test, I decided to give myself 25 more minutes until I absolutely had to quit. I knew it would take me at least another hour to figure out the code, so I switched gears to look for any other solutions I may have missed.

And I realized I missed a simple 5-minute workaround solution...all that coding was unnecessary!

After thoroughly kicking myself for the mistake, I finally understood Parkinson’s Law: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." [3]

I gave myself endless time at first, even feeling noble for doing so because it showed my commitment. But once I created scarcity with my time, I found a simple, easy solution because I had to rethink my strategy.

If you give yourself endless time to work on something, you may waste countless hours focusing on the wrong things. You may not completely throw it out the window like I did, more likely you will spend it on lower priorities that won't create as much value.

If you give yourself a finite amount of time, however, your brain will search for ways to help you make the most of it. That could be by coming up with productive solutions, or by forcing you to work on the highest priority tasks. [4]


I am a terrible decision maker. And I hate to break this to you…but so are you.

We all like to believe that we are like scientists; we examine the evidence and make well-informed decisions. Unfortunately, we make most decisions rapidly, through a narrow and biased lens without considering all the options.

This is perfectly illustrated by this forum question used in Dan and Chip Heath’s book, Decisive.

Claireabelle: Break up or not? I don’t know what to do. Every time I go to my boyfriends house or hangout this family, I feel like I’m being judged. 

His sister is very “mood-swingy” towards me. His older brother hates me and calls me a b*tch. His mom is rude and makes insulting jokes at me. I like him, but I’m tired of being judged.

What should I do?

What would you tell Claireabelle to do?

Think about it....

It's probably not hard for you to come up with seemingly solid advice to "break up" or "stay with him." Within a day, 12 people responded with their advice to Claireabelle. The majority of people said to break up with him, and only a couple suggested staying with him.

But think about how much important information isn't provided to us in this short paragraph. 

Does the family act like this towards every new girl? If so, why?

Has she even talked to her boyfriend about the problem? It would be pretty lousy to bring it up for the first time when she's dumping him.

Has she confronted the family members about their behavior? Maybe they are just joking and they have a cruel sense of humor.

Without knowing any of this information, we can make a snap judgment that will affect her life forever. This is called the "spotlight effect." We judge what we see in front of us as the only important information, without considering what might be outside of our spotlight. 

So we miss those key points of relevant information because we don't even think to look for it.

To break out of this trap, ask yourself what you would do if choice of A or B wasn't an option? So if the simple "end it" or "stay with him" weren't options, what advice would you give?

To confront him about his family?

To stand up for herself in front of them?

To spend less time around them?

Regardless of what your answer is, it’s probably much better advice than “stay” or “leave.”

This is called the vanishing options test. If you ever catch yourself with only 2 options, try removing both options and see if there is another solution to the problem. Avoiding this narrow frame helps you gain new perspective and see information outside of the spotlight. [5]


It's amazing what the human mind is capable of when you force it to come up with a solution. When you remove resources, time, or even options, you can see things with a new level of creativity and problem-solving ability.

These are the most effective methods I've found for accomplishing more with less. Whether you're out of ideas, overworked, or stuck on a decision, see if creating scarcity can help you fight through the frustration and perhaps even take you to the next level.