Workout of the Day



When I taught middle school writing, one of my favorite exercises to give my students was to write a response to a prompt while following a handful of constraints on their writing. For example, I would ask them to write a description of the most beautiful sunset they had ever seen without naming any colors, or to tell a story of a time they were scared without the use of the word “scared” or any of its many synonyms. These assignments usually started with students’ mild dismay and lots of “how on earth am I going to do that?” and ended with no small degree of excitement, pride, and clever problem solving. You can describe what a metaphor is until you’re blue in the face and the average middle school student won’t take much from the lesson, or you can apply some constraints (describe a sunset without naming any colors, for example) and the concept of metaphor comes to life.

While this is one small example, I think it’s a rather universal truth that we tend to perform at our best when constraints are applied. Constraints create our ideal space for problem solving and creativity, they cut out the noise, and they focus and direct our attention. There’s a reason that so many television shows -- cooking, home design, etc. -- rest on this premise of constraints. We are drawn to it and do well with it.

While you may not be interested in practicing your application of metaphors by describing a sunset without naming colors, I ask you: what problems could you solve or new perspectives could you uncover by applying your own constraints?

- PS


  • 5 attempts:

    • 5-10-20 shuttle run

    • *record fastest


  • Every 2 mins for 16 mins:

    • 100m sprint

    • *record fastest