Dan Martell’s post on “forcing functions” came across my Twitter stream a while ago and I’ve been meaning to highlight something about it.

Dan defines a “forcing function” as “any task, activity, or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.” I like the idea of forcing functions as a way to defeat procrastination, and potentially to defeat the feelings of ambivalence that creep over anyone from time to time.

A forcing function example Dan highlights: going powerless when working outside your home or office. Taking his MacBook with him, without the power cord, means he’ll have X number of specific hours to work before being powerless. “That’s when I slam through a bunch of emails,” he writes, “get some serious planning done or design some new product feature. There’s something magical about a 3 hour forced completion work session.”

I often do this too, for the same reasons Dan highlights. I also like what it implies about how to work in the modern age. We can work longer than ever with universal connectivity, reliable electricity, and devices that stay powered. But that’s not a humane way to work, and it’s not a dignified way to treat ourselves.

There’s something honest about acknowledging that it’s alright to be powerless after a certain point. We’re physical creatures. We’re finite. We tire.