A Lazy Person’s Trick to Getting Things Done Every Single Day
Featuring the concept of Minimal Viable Day.
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In software startups, there’s a famous concept called the Minimal Viable Product (MVP).
The idea is to release your product as soon as it meets the basic needs of its users.
From there, you iterate to improve performance, embellish the design, and add new features.
We can take this step further and build our work routine around it.
I call it the Minimal Viable Day (MVD).
An MVD is the minimum amount of productive work that makes your workday feel worthwhile.
Write 800 words
Complete one report
Organize the finance spreadsheet
The main purpose of an MVD is to be so easy it makes any excuse to procrastinate sound ridiculous. It’s just a way to trick yourself into doing tasks that build up over time.
The most effective way to stick to your MVD is to turn it into a habit.
The science of habit-forming boils down to four laws James Clear explained in his best-selling book—Atomic Habits:
#1 Make your MVD obvious
With the MVD you can use a sheet of paper as a cue.
Make it visible in your work setup.
For example, mine rests on the left side of my laptop.
I see it every time my gaze wanders away from my screen.
#2 Make your MVD attractive
How do you add anticipation to something that’s supposed to be a chore?
You mix the tasks you need to do with things you enjoy doing.
For instance, I only listen to music when I write, read, cook or walk.
It’s like a tradeoff: I get to enjoy my favorite artists only when doing something productive.
Steal the pattern and create bundles of tasks to create anticipation.
Here are some examples:
Listen to a podcast when doing manual work
Call a friend when cooking or cleaning
Go to your favorite café when you have a ton of emails to process
#3 Make your MVD easy (super easy)
Reduce any friction that may keep you from ticking the boxes of your MVD.
If you want to increase your chances of going for a long walk, put your sports shoes next to the door
If you want to read before bed, put a book on your nightstand
If you want to cook healthy food, make sure you have a variety of ingredients in your fridge and recipes on your phone
#4 Make your MVD satisfying
A brilliant quote from Clear is:
“To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful, even if it’s in a small way.”
This is easy to apply with MVD because it provides you with a “Look, I made things done!” effect.
You can also add rewards like watching an episode of your favorite show, hopping on social media, or grabbing a snack for every time you get one task out of the way.