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Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity

Lesson 4 of 18

Understanding Tolerations

Srinivas Rao

Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity

Srinivas Rao

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Lesson Info

4. Understanding Tolerations

Lesson Info

Understanding Tolerations

I wanna talk briefly about a concept called tolerations. What we tolerate is really an indication of the standards that we have for ourselves in virtually every area of our lives. Whether it's the people we tolerate, whether it's the things in our lives, and in this case in particular, we're going to be talking about physical objects. Tolerations typically include things like charger cables that don't work, torn or worn out clothing, cracked screens, and devices with one or two broken functions, you might have notifications that are popping up on your computer for something you installed that you don't ever use, and all these things are not a big deal individually. They're a little annoying, but they're not the end of the world. But, what happens is combined, they all add up, and they tend to be a really, really big energy drain. It's kind of amazing because even physical clutter, in a lot of ways, what we were talking about earlier, is a toleration in many ways. A couple years ago, I ...

had this Ikea chair, and what I've learned from my own experiences of putting Ikea furniture together is that I should never put this stuff together because there're usually parts left over and it always ends up falling apart. But this was long before I had this realization so I decided to put this chair together. Over the course of three or four years, I'd written multiple books in that chair, recorded hundreds of interviews, but the chair was clearly falling apart, to the point where I literally fell off the chair one day, backwards. And I thought okay, you know what? It's really time to get another chair. One of the screws was loose, so I would sit on it in such a way that I knew it wouldn't fall over. But then eventually I fell over, and I though okay, you know what? I think it's time that I got rid of this and actually got myself another chair, so I ordered a new chair on Amazon. I was amazed at what I had been willing to tolerate and how much of a difference it made in my ability to simply sit at my desk and work for several hours. Something as simple as a screw missing from a chair was something that I was willing to tolerate. If you look at something like a cracked screen on a phone, many of us often drop our phones, we crack our screens, and a lot of people don't go and get those things repaired immediately. If you've ever done that, you know this. You look at it and you think to yourself well it's functional, I can use it, I can get whatever I need to done. Yes, it's annoying to keep looking at that thing, but that annoyance eventually adds up. If ever gone and gotten it fixed, you know what a relief it feels like to no longer look at this thing. The funny thing is that we tolerate these things in virtually every area of our lives, from the equipment that we use, to the things that we allow into our world, and what you'll start to find is that as you become much more stringent about tolerations, you tend to be much clearer in your life. Everything seems to feel a lot easier. We go back that idea of things like this not being part of your life actually enable you to reduce stress and anxiety. Jim Bunch is the guy who created a company called The Ultimate Game of Life and he was the one who really turned me out to this entire concept of environments and physical space. What he said to me is that, "You can't change one "environment and not have it affect the others. "If you upgrade one environment, "it will send a ripple through the other ones." The thing is that every thing that we tolerate is part of one of the environments in our life, so the things that you tolerate in terms of cracked screens are part of the physical environment of your life. The things you tolerate in terms of people are part of the social environment of your life. Again, the temptation here is to think to yourself okay, you know what? Make a list of every single thing that I'm tolerating. I'm gonna go home today and I'm gonna change all of it. Which of course, you'll look at it, the list will look overwhelming, and tomorrow it will be an afterthought. What I recommend is that you identify and that you eliminate one toleration every single week. If it's a cracked screen, take care of that this week. If it's a car that's a mess, go get it washed. One thing every week and all of those things eventually will add up to a point where you suddenly are going to be a lot clearer and a lot less stressed out and as a result, your creativity is going to flourish. I wanna turn it over to you guys. What are examples in your own life of things that you're currently tolerating? I have my tire pressure light on that I haven't been able to figure out what it is and I should probably go take a look at that. Perfect example, right? This is such a perfect example of what we're talking about because even though you know you should take care of it, this thing has probably been on your mind at least for a little bit of time every day. It's not completely life-threatening in any way at all, but it's annoying because it's always there in the background, something that you're thinking about, and thinking to yourself yeah, I really should go and check it out. Often those, in many cases, cars in particular are the worst because sometimes those little warning lights, if you ignore them for a really long time, Can be bad. a small toleration turns into a really big problem and often a very expensive repair. So that is a perfect example of what we're talking about here. Yeah. I updated my phone and the Bluetooth function quit working on it, and so, (laughing) my son was laughing at me because in my car I've got all these wires going all different directions. He goes, "Dad, you realize all this stuff is wireless." But there's so many things I can't do with that phone that, without the Bluetooth headphones don't work, apps that I use for tracking exercise don't work, I mean it's-- There you go, again, another perfect example of something that is a minor annoyance that adds up over time and it ends up becoming a really, really big energy drain. I'd be curious from the studio audience, are there people who are-- We're asking online. It might take 'em a minute on the online audience to chime in. Okay. I have one I'll share from my own life. Couple years ago, I had gotten out of the water after a surf session and me and a couple of friends were headed to a bar to have a drink, and I made a U-turn, and I made a really sharp U-turn, and I ended up hitting the curb on the U-tern and this entire section of my car fell off. Basically, I think it's called like a mud guard. I remember thinking to myself oh my god, I hope we didn't destroy public property because then a cop would show up and this would be a giant mess, I didn't want to have to talk to my parents about this. But I didn't get it fixed for almost a year, year and a half and every day I would look at thing, I was like, I really hate the way this car looks every single time I got into it. Literally, one week after I got it fixed, it was amazing, I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. Then, recently I upgraded my car from that car to a new one and I was amazed at the difference energetically that I felt the moment I drove the new car off the lot just because of the fact that all the things that I had been tolerating about the old car were no longer part of my life. Jim, do we have any examples from the audience or questions? Well, Gundars is saying totally unfinished apartment. (laughing) Yeah, they're really starting to chime in now. Lauren Day, I think this is a big one for myself and I hadn't even thought about it, is spam or marketing email subscriptions. Okay, so we're actually-- (groaning) I here the groaning from the audience. We're actually gonna do an entire module on what we call our tech environment where we'll actually talk specifically about that, and that is a great example. Great, great. So we will come back to that. Cool. Alright.

Class Description

Whether you know it or not, there are a whole host of things that either stimulate or obstruct your productivity and creativity. Where you work, the people you see, the equipment you use, the sounds you hear, the information you consume—every aspect of your environment and daily habits has a major impact on your performance as a creator.

If you want to have more control over the quality of your work, you need to consciously design the systems, environments, and habits that will allow you to succeed. This course will help you do just that.

Author, instructor, and popular podcaster Srinivas Rao will show you how to eliminate the things that are draining your creativity and mental energy—from distracting devices to annoying noises to poorly designed offices. Then he’ll help you create the surroundings and develop the practices that activate the unconscious mind and produce creative breakthroughs.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Assess the environments in your life and figure out how to optimize them.
  • Set up your technical devices to get rid of distractions and reduce the flow of information.
  • Manage your attention so you can encourage flow and reach peak performance.
  • Create habits and rituals that promote creativity and productivity.
  • Choose the right collaborators who will compensate for your weaknesses and expand your capabilities.


Melissa Dinwiddie

What a fabulous class! Srini covered one actionable idea after another that can be implemented immediately to fuel creativity right out of the gate. And the beautiful thing is that each tactic builds on all the others, so every little step you take will improve your overall systems. I loved the stories from his podcast and the guest speakers, too. My only complaint was that some of the slides had a lot of text on them -- too much to read. Other than that, it was well-organized, thoughtful, and super useful. I've already recommended it to several people in passing.

Kathryn Kilner

This is a great course for anyone pursuing creative work. It is easy to get distracted in the modern world and Srinivas provides practical insights and tested systems for empowering creatives to focus and get more done. Although I've read a lot about how to optimize my habits, I was challenged in this course to think differently about how I structure my time and my work space. The changes I've made have helped me be more productive.

a Creativelive Student

I've watched many CreativeLive courses. While I find many interesting, there are only a handful that capture my attention from beginning to end. This was one of those. The speaker mentioned countless gems that were applicable not only to creativity and productivity, but to how one lives daily life. There were multiple "deep thoughts" and several practical ways to alter one's environments (including physical and mental) in order to enhance productivity and general well-being. I've already implemented a few suggestions, and am anxious to revisit my notes on this course repeatedly.