The biggest drain on our limited willpower is to start something. You might have observed that once you start, you get the momentum or the inertia to continue. Hence you should learn more about the concept of minimum viable progress.
One major reason for that is when we think about a task in its entirety, it looks overwhelming. Our mind starts playing games to keep us away from any feeling of discomfort arising out of the task in hand demanding our efforts.
However, there is a way out.
Psychologically, once you start something, even if with a small act, you send a signal to the brain that what you’re doing is not far beyond your comfort zone. You’ve taken the first step, which is the most crucial. Remember,
“Journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”
Minimal Viable Progress
MVP is a very commonly used abbreviation in the startup lingo. In startup parlance it stands for “Minimal Viable Product”. The intention is to build the simplest possible product that will be useful to the intended user, before the actual intended product evolves. Idea is not to do shabby work. On the contrary, you develop a better product because of including user feedback you collected with the MVP.
Similarly, we can devise our own version of MVP i.e. Minimum Viable Progress. We can start asking this question to ourselves, what is the smallest amount of progress that will be useful and valuable to the task we are trying to get done. To summarize, I am quoting these lines which I picked up from the treasure of ancient wisdom, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching –
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
Accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.
Minimum Viable Preparation
Any creative work, any big project or any huge accomplishment requires preparation. There are 2 ways to prepare –
- Late and Big
- Early and Small
Late and big is more common. That’s when you keep postponing the work till the end and then you do the work required by pulling an all nighter. The work might get completed, but that’s like heavy lifting for your mental faculties. Not the most healthy and productive way for long term efficiency.
The alternative is to start early and small. If getting focused attention is a problem, try this easy time management trick to get started. Do MVP – minimum viable progress / preparation.
Wish to write an article, write a couple of sentences
Wish to make a presentation, open a power-point file and put down your thoughts.
Wish to build a product, make a concept note.
Wish to design something, make a rough sketch on paper.
Wish to prepare for a speech, pen down a few points.
Start small, but start early.
Word of caution, if you’ve tendencies of being a perfectionist at work, this can become counter productive. Your urge to perfect your creation, can push you into the never ending cycle of small improvements. But here you need to remind yourself that
Done is better than perfect.