Minimum Viable Effort
I love making Minimum Viable Products, shipping them & getting feedback to understand what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not familiar with the concept, the idea in a nutshell is that you build a scrappy product with the minimum amount of features that would still provide most of the core functionality & launch fast. Once you launch your MVP, the market (users) will tell you what they like (and what they don’t) and then you iterate till you get something that’s worth making.
This is a good for two reasons:
- It’s the quickest way from “idea in your your head” to “product”
- It’s the easiest way to get actual feedback from users
A concept that I was recently experimenting with is what I’d like to term Minimum Viable Effort. It sort of draws similarities from MVP’s, but not really. The big idea, which has been spoken about earlier I’m sure is that whenever you want to do something that you just can’t bring yourself to do, spend Minimum Viable Effort on it & get data. I’ve been applying it to things that I tend to procrastinate usually (working out, admin related things) & have found it to be a very effective way to get feedback from your self about what’s going on. This might sound suspicious, but let me explain with an example.
Say you want to get moving this year & have decided to pursue the lofty goal of working out every day. It went really well for the first three weeks but then January Blues kicked in & you started slipping. Making the effort to go to the gym or out for a run might be difficult. It’s too cold, the pollution is terrible. Maybe tomorrow. These are all thoughts that might run through your head. At such times, when motivation is completely dry & you can’t make the effort to do much, try to make the Minimum Viable Effort. This means, just doing the essential thing for the minimum amount of time that it takes to feel like you did. In the case of getting more exercise, this might look like putting on your shoes & walking for five minutes, even if it’s in your room. Five minutes is a short enough time span to not feel overwhelming to start, but also a long enough time span to get data about whether you actually didn’t want to work out (you might be stressed or just really tired) or were you just being lazy. More often than not, you’ll find that it’s the latter & the simple act of walking for 5 minutes will feel great & you’ll want to keep extending it till you finish.
This might seem like you’re tricking your brain into doing things, but isn’t that a lot of life?