If you can do something the easy way or the hard way, why would you ever pick the hard way? While the easy way is fine most of the time, you might want to try the more difficult path every once in a while to learn how to improve your process. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
As productivity writer Seth Godin points out, putting artificial limits on yourself can help you figure out where your weak points are and fix them. When you go back to doing things the easy way, your process will be even better. Godin uses the example of when Toyota removed their surplus of parts for their assembly process. Now, if a part broke, they couldn't just replace it with another cheap one from the shelf:
This seems insane. Why would you go through the pain of removing the (relatively) low cost buffer of some extra parts? The answer, it turns out, is that without a buffer, you've lowered the water level and you can see the rocks below. Without a buffer, every supplier had to dramatically up his game. Suddenly, the quality of parts went way up, which, of course, makes the assembly line go faster and every car ends up working better as well.
You can try this out in your own work or personal projects, yourself. If you're used to drawing something in a computer, try doing it by hand, where you can't hit Ctrl-Z. If you usually use a piece of software to automate a task, do it the tedious way for a while to see if you can spot some flaws when you're up close and personal with it. You don't have to do things the hard way all the time (and ideally not when you're crunched for time), but taking away the easy mode buffer every once in a while can help you improve your process.
What's at the bottom of the river? [Seth Godin]