The Minimum Effective Dose

Tim Ferriss introduced me to the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) concept back in 2009 with his seminal (some would argue, but they can go to hell!) book, The 4-Hour Body.

I realized how effective and simple it is to focus on the MED and gain outstanding results as I lost 28 kilos (mostly fat) in just 5 months following Tim’s Slow-carb diet!

So, what exactly is MED? It’s the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome and anything beyond the MED is wasteful. For example, water if boiled to 100 degrees is safe to drink. Water boiled any further, say at 102 degrees, wouldn’t make it any “more” safer to drink and would have wasted significant energy. Thus, not efficient.

When it comes to MED, more definitely isn’t better.

I know that sounds like a contradiction in this world of excess. We’re all obsessed with more. Doing more, buying more, saying more, socializing more, watching more and what not. I’ve been that road myself. It’s so much fun until you the excitement wears down (and it eventually does) and you begin to see the light.

I like what Michael Hyatt says, “We need to get to the bare essential of the bare essentials.

So, if you want to become an expert writer consider the MED that will help you achieve your goal in the shortest possible time. Your plan is like an espresso. A clean, concentrated shot that will energize and propel you further. Consider this rough list below:

  • Writing practice. How would I get to practice writing daily? How many words (I aim for 300-500 since that’s my MED. If you’re ambitious go for 500-1000 if you can do it consistently. If not, aim lower.)
  • Learning. What are the 10-20 books on writing or communication that will help me learn and hone this craft further?
  • Mentoring. Who are the top 5-10 personalities in your field of interest whom you can look up to? Listen to their interviews, podcasts, blogs, articles and even books to get access to their mind space.

And that’s it! I would stick with these steps to get started. Feel free to add more to the list above. Just don’t go overboard, you’ll just burn yourself out.

Focusing on the most critical aspect of your craft will give you the most bang for your buck. And no, you don’t need 10,000 hours to attain mastery.

Remember mastery is a journey, not a destination.

In martial arts, becoming a black belt is only the first step to a lifelong study of the art. Most people don’t realize that there are steps that progress beyond the black belt degree. We’re talking about decades of practice and dedication after becoming a black belt here.

The number of hours is arbitrary is simply an indication of the level of effort required to truly understand the concepts (inside out) at that particular level. Robin Sharma said it the best: “Mastery = Focus + Time.”

For me, MED is an effective strategy to help me focus on what’s essential without getting lost in the clutter. It has helped me get better physically, mentally and professionally.

What’s your MED for the goal that you want to achieve?


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