A few years back I came up with a strategy for dealing with the temptation of eating around the holidays. In the time-honored tradition of Tim Ferris’ Four-Hour Body I call this the Minimum Viable Diet:

  1. You don’t have to watch what you eat.
  2. You don’t have to cut back on drinking.
  3. You don’t have to do any exercise.
  4. Just stop eating before you feel like you are going to physically explode.

Along the same lines, I also have a productivity secret I’d like to share. I call it the Twelve Hour Rule.

  1. Don’t work for more than twelve hours straight.
  2. After you stop working, take at least a twelve hour break before you start working again.

The former rule is more obvious—who can be productive after more than twelve hours of work? The latter rule is actually the easier one to break, and more insidious. Who hasn’t worked until midnight and then gotten up for an 8am meeting? Don’t do that to yourself.

Combined with the Minimum Viable Diet, I think these are rules for living we can all adopt. Call it the Minimum Viable Lifestyle:

  1. Don’t work for more than twelve hours at a time.
  2. Take a twelve hour break between periods of work.
  3. Don’t eat so much that you feel like you’re going to explode.
The Minimum Viable Lifestyle won’t make you happier, more successful, thinner, or richer. It has a marginal chance of preventing your early and untimely death, which is really the minimum standard I think we should all strive for. (Airport book publishers! Call me!)

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