Doing Just Enough To Get By And Still Accomplishing Maximum Results

Photo by Andres Rueda

Photo by Andres Rueda

Minimum Effective Dose

Minimum Effective Dose or MED is one of those semi-new concepts being discussed quite a bit right now. The concept was originally developed and utilized by inventor and exercise guru Arthur Jones. Today, the MED banner is being proudly waved by none other than author Tim Ferriss.

The minimum effective dose (MED) is defined as “the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.”

Let’s look at some examples of MED.

Examples

First, here’s a practical, “real life” example that is often cited: boiling water. Water boils at 212° F. Raising the temperature beyond that will not make something “more boiled.” Boiled is boiled. If we do raise the temperature beyond the minimum, then we are just wasting energy and heat resources.

Second, example: bombs (I know, weird example. Follow me, though). Back in World War II days, we needed hundreds of planes with hundreds of bombs in order to “carpet bomb” cities to force an eventual surrender. But, today, with our sophisticated laser guided hardware and global satellite positioning systems, we can send up just a few planes with a few “smart bombs” and target just a few, select locations to accomplish (mostly) the same result.

Third example: music instrument practice. Now, in this example, this will vary from one musician to the other. There will be variables based on age, maturity level, concentration ability, and difficulty of music. So, each instrumentalist needs to measure their own optimal practice time frame. Again, based upon the variables, this could range from 30 minutes to 3 hours. But, there will come a point for an instrumentalist when further practice in a 24-hour period becomes a waste of time. They will hit the wall of the law of diminishing returns if they keep on practicing.

Fourth example: physical exercise. I’m all about MED on this one. I have no desire (and zero extra time) to spend hours in the gym or training for a marathon. I’m all about doing the minimal amount to achieve my desired results! Again, this varies according to each person, their metabolism, the intensity of the workout, and so on. For me, I’ve found that 4 days a week, with alternating days of cardio and strength training of about 25 minutes per day, seems to be my MED. I’ve been able to accomplish the level of physical fitness I need for maximum performance.

Fifth example: writing. There is an MED to the skill of writing. Writers like Seth Godin have become masters of it. They utilize writing techniques that use fewer filler fluff words and maximize a few select concentrated words in order to get the desired point across to the reader.

Application

I know what you’re thinking at this point. “Larry, who cares? Does the minimum effective dose really matter to me and my life?” Sure does. If you can truly grab a hold of this concept, you can use it as a filter to pass through all of your activities, actions, schedule, and even financial purchases.

We live in an excessive, over the top world. We’re all trying to out man and outgun each other. Go the opposite direction. Try the MED approach, instead.

Apply it to a house you may be looking to purchase. How much square footage do you really need? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you really need? Use the MED approach to calculate what will get the job done effectively.

Apply it to your career. Do you really want to work 80 hours a week for $120,000 and never see your family? Or, could you see yourself in a simpler, less stressful position at 40 hours a week at $75,000, spending more time and energy on the ones you love most? Something to consider.

Apply it to your eating habits. Do you tend to consume mindless calories? Or, using an MED approach, do you consume smaller amounts of higher quality foods such as on a slow-carb diet of higher amounts of protein and vegetables? Try it. It works.

Apply it to your sleep patterns. Do you really need 8 hours to function properly, or could you actually get by on 5.5 hours if you are in great physical shape and take a 20-minute power nap every afternoon? I know that’s actually possible for a lot of people.

In my personal opinion, the MED possibilities are endless and can help you achieve amazing, maximum results if applied well.

Questions: Are you familiar with the minimum effective dose approach? Do you employ MED in your own life? In what areas do you utilize it? What kind of results do you receive with this approach?

5 Awesome Books That Have Radically Changed My Life And Made Me More Productive

Photo by Sam Fam

Photo by Sam Fam

A Great Book Can Change Your Life

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been inspired by numerous authors, books, and the entire writing process. Guess that’s one of the reasons I became a blogger. I like analyzing stuff and then getting my thoughts out of my head and onto the computer screen.

The best books by the best authors are able to inspire a different level of thinking and living. They are able to get you to re-examine previously held beliefs and then take massive change in a new direction.

The following list of five books are ones that contain five big concepts that I think about on a daily basis. They have re-shaped my life and literally molded me into a better person (in my opinion). If you’ve never read these books, then I would highly encourage you to check them out!

5 Books That Have Impacted Me

1. Financial Peace [affiliate link] by Dave Ramsey. This is one of the first books that really altered my life in a number of ways. I remember walking into a bookstore around 2004-2005 and running across this bluish-green book by some guy named Dave Ramsey. He completely changed my views on money and the manner in which it should be wisely handled. As a result of reading Financial Peace, I will never again view debt the same way as I did in the past. I will never again be able to return to the old patterns of mismanaged personal finances. Thanks, Dave, for your wisdom and experience in this vitally important area of our lives. My life will never be the same as a result.

2.The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People [affiliate link] by Stephen Covey. The big takeaway from this book that has stuck with me over the years is the concept of 4-quadrant living. The four quadrants include:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important Activities. These could include emergencies, putting out fires, and tight work deadlines.
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but Important Activities. These could include exercise, planning, writing, meditation, recreation, and relationship building.
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent But Not Important Activities. These could include some calls, some emails, some meetings, and popular activities.
  • Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important Activities. These could include trivia, busy work, some calls, and some email.

So, the takeaway from Covey and 4-quadrant living that I contemplate on a daily basis is this: hang out in Quadrant 2 as much as you possibly can, especially during the peak performance hours of your day. I attempt to structure my day around these quadrants in order to maximize my overall performance.

3. The 80/20 Principle [affiliate link] by Richard Koch. The book was a reinterpretation of the Pareto principle, extending its use beyond economics and business, to cover issues such as “time revolution” and personal happiness (source: Wikipedia). The world is ruled by Pareto’s Law which states 80% of results are the result of 20% of inputs. Stated another way, 20% of my specific work activities have the capacity of producing 80% of my best work results. The key is knowing which 20% activities produce your best 80%! As a result of reading this book, I ponder every day whether or not I’m engaged in my top 20% activities. As a side note, this also corresponds to Quadrant 2 living in Covey’s book.

4. Good To Great [affiliate link] by Jim Collins – The key idea that I got from this must-read business book is “get the right people in the right seats on the right bus!” Now, with every group that I organize and lead, I attempt to get the right people in the right positions for the right task. If you want to take any organization from okay to awesome, then you must follow this principle.

5. The 4-Hour Body [affiliate link] by Tim Ferriss. I’m a big Tim Ferriss fan. I read his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek in 2007 (I debated whether or not to add this book to this list) and then I started following his blog. I purchased his next book, The 4-Hour Body, right around its release date, and found many of his experiments and teachings to be highly actionable. As a result of following a (mostly) slow carb-ish diet and exercise regimen, I was able to go from 170 lbs to 158 lbs. This took me down two pant sizes (from a 34 down to a 32). My belly flattened out and I have more lean muscle mass and less body fat. I added this book to the list because at age 42, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life as a result of reading it. Plus, there’s a lot of other incredibly awesome experiments and actionable ideas that you should check out as well.

Questions: So, have you read any of these books? Did you glean the same key concepts that I did or something entirely different? Do you a list of books that have impacted your life in amazing ways? If so, feel free to leave your list in a comment below. I’d love to see what books have changed your life!