Giving Fifty Percent

The merits of not going all-in.

Giving Fifty Percent
Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

I was dipping into Derek Sivers' "Hell Yeah, Or No" yesterday, when I came across an idea that is staying with me.

Using the example of a bike ride that he used to do along the Pacific Coast, Sivers notes that he use to push himself really hard for the duration of the 15 mile ride and would clock an average time of 43 minutes. Over time, he lost the taste for the exercise and decided that, rather than go flat out, he would just coast along, enjoying the view and treating it like a jaunt rather than a work out.

He tried this out, doing the same route but only giving 50% effort. His time was 47 minutes.

Half the effort had resulted in going just 4 minutes slower.

Translating this notion across to other aspects of life, Sivers posits that perhaps a lot of the extra effort we thing we're putting into a task is actually comprised of anxiety and stress and maybe we could just relax and get the same thing done to the same level in roughly the same time, and be happier about it.

This supports every experience I have of being in a flow state, when stress etc slip away and yet the work is completed to a high level.

It seems worth bearing in mind that coasting, especially in creative endeavours or when doing routine admin, might be the best approach. It certainly can make the task list seem less daunting.