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Why we should all take a Minimum Viable Day

Every once in a while, we all experience an “I don’t want to get up for work” kind of day. A day where giving a 120 % is just not an option when we will struggle to do 80 %. While everyone argues about bringing your whole self to work for most of us, sometimes it’s just not an option. And how can it? When we are burdened by the weight of always doing and being better, there is no room for low energy and lack of focus. And while this is a part of being human, it’s still a missing piece from today’s work ethos.

If you are familiar with product development, the concept of creating an MVP, or minimum viable product, is not a new term. Originally, the term comes from the Lean Startup by Eric Ries, who describes an MVP as a version of a product with just enough features and functionality to satisfy early customers with the least amount of effort. There is room for iterations and updates along the way, but with the priority on delivery over perfection, the first step is to focus on the core features of the product. Essentially, a successful MVP in three words is quick, simple and basic.

So, with this in mind, what if we turn things around and apply the “minimum viable” concept to other areas, not just to product development? How about we apply it to our own daily lives?

Welcome to the concept of the Minimum Viable Day

An MVD means doing only the crucial work to prevent chaos and actively facilitating a slower day with the intention of higher productivity levels in the coming days. We talk about developing products and working within the limited resources we have, but we rarely apply the less is more principle to ourselves.

So many of us stress out when we’ve had a bad day. Often resulting in a bad mood, one too many beers and binge watching Netflix in bed! But aren’t we told that life isn’t black or white? Incorporating an occasional MVD keeps you in the game, even on those days when the battery is only half-charged. When it’s one of those days, when you don’t feel 100 %, focus on the three clear principles below to actively create a Minimum Viable Day:

1. Just enough doesn’t equal nothing

Just like the name already implies, the day needs to be viable. This isn’t a vacation day or time off to relax, but rather a solution for when you need a bit of an energy boost to get you through the week. The whole idea is to "ship" the day by using the most basic resources one needs to get “just enough” done. Try to set at least one simple, yet meaningful goal for the day to use as your guiding compass.

2. Get back to basics with your to-do list

Only focusing on the most important actions to prevent juggling the many tasks requires great prioritization skills. Essentially, you want to be clear about what can be postponed to another day. Yes, this might feel slightly uncomfortable but the following questions will help you to stay on track:

  • What tasks can I do better tomorrow/next week with more energy?

  • Who can I share with how I’m feeling today so they could support me?

  • Is there any task that I shouldn’t have been doing in the first place anyway?

3. Recharge your batteries

Ideally, an MVD builds on the foundation of your existing work. View it as a basecamp day between long hours of hiking or as the halftime of a soccer match: It is a crucial pause, needed to refresh and clear the head, but does not reflect your overall work standards. So make sure to not feel guilty about how your feeling, but rather accept it and take this time to dive inside and check-in with yourself:

  • Why am I feeling run down?

  • What do I need most right now?

  • What’s going well and what do I want to achieve for the rest of the week?

And remember, you are not a robot. You are a human who isn’t designed for linear productivity progress and who doesn’t need to over perform 100% of the time. Go easy on yourself and make space to listen to your inner voice. Sometimes all we have do is to take the slow road instead of the autobahn so we can refuel and get back to our best form.


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