I shared recently several rules I have for myself that increase my productivity and happiness. I was discussing these and other rules with my brother, and we both concluded that, despite the value of our rules, some of the most valuable times are actually when we break them. This is especially the case with time-management and schedule rules.
I try to get 8 hours of sleep every night because I function better. Yet some of the best flow states are induced when I’m up until the wee hours cranking away on a creativity binge fueled with caffeine. If I did this often, I’d be terrible. But it’s so valuable when employed as a rare exception.
This is one of the other benefits of rules. Keeping to them gives you space to kick it up to “11” when you need it. Try going without coffee for several weeks, then when you really need to dial-in have some. You’ll find the boost from a single cup to be amazing in the clutch when you limit your intake on normal days.
Make rules if for no other reason than the value it adds to breaking them.