How To Optimize Your Life And Work With The Dosage Principle

I could list all the habits of successful people and all the things you should stop doing but it wouldn’t matter.


Because there are already thousands of articles on that and I’m sure you already know the difference between “good” and “bad” habits.

When people tell you what you should do but you still don’t do it, it hurts your feelings because it comes down to your self-image.

You think to yourself…

Am I not motivated enough?

Or am I a type of person who makes excuses?

From there, it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral of negative thoughts and bad behavior.

I know it sucks but I understand.

As someone who writes a lot about behavior, motivation, and habits; it’s hard for me to not just throw advice at people.

So I’ve got something different for you today.

I’m giving you the permission to do most of the “bad” habits. Yes, there you go. I said it.

The only exception is the bad behaviors that are highly addictive or destructive. In those cases, it’s better to quit cold turkey or gradually decrease the behavior.

But in all the other cases, it’s unnecessary to eliminate the so-called “bad” habits. In fact, no one is perfect and we all have secret habits we’re not proud of.

So here’s what the dosage principle looks like.

For all behaviors, set the right dose for yourself to get the most benefits without the side effects.

Tracking frequency or time spent on behaviors will give you a target to shoot for instead of mindlessly doing things on autopilot.

When you’re on autopilot, you never know when you go into a downward spiral of stress, anxiety, burnout, addiction, and so on.

With the dosage principle, you’re always conscious of your actions. You know when to say no, when to say yes, and when to stop.

Yes, it will require self-control but it will be easier for you because when you tell yourself that you can’t do something, you want to do it even more. But with this principle, you’re not depriving yourself.

Now, let’s talk about the right dose you need for all behaviors.

The truth is: there is no universal right or wrong dosage for each behavior. Every person is different and has different goals, values, and priorities.

To know the right dosage for you:

a) Find out why you do what you do

To be happy? To succeed? Or just because everyone else does it? It could be anything but you got to know your why to set intentions in your life.

b) Find out the impact of what you do

How does the behavior impact you or your life? Not all behaviors are created equal. Skipping a positive behavior or overdosing on negative behavior — both can have a severe impact on you.

Now, let’s leave the theory aside and jump to the examples of how you can apply the principle in your life immediately.

The Dose Of People You Meet ?

People leave a vibe around them. Some suck the happiness out of you while some energize your soul.

For every person in your life, decide how much time you want to spend around them.

Aim to increase the dose of the people who love you and support you. 

In the best-case scenario, you’d eliminate the negative people in your life. But you know life’s not perfect and sometimes, you have to face those people at your workplace, college or in a social gathering.

Normally, you’d suppress your feelings and be with negative people anyway. But now you know the dosage principle so be less around them. Even when you’re in a group, sit or walk around people you like.

The Dose Of Things You Work On ?

You may have heard people using the term “work smarter”. Working smart is about doing things efficiently and effectively.

Efficiency is about doing the things that bring the most output. Effectiveness is about doing things right. When you work smarter, you do more and better in less time.

Find out what activities bring the most output by tracking time and results. Then, learn how the best in the field do the work to maximize your output.

The principle also applies to the projects you work on. If you work on multiple projects, find the right dosage for each one to avoid overwhelm.

Related: Life Designer’s Toolkit — Top Productivity Tools

The Dose Of Websites You Visit ?

Each website plays a role in your life. You should especially be conscious of the social media websites you browse.

Pay attention to your newsfeed and find out the purpose it plays in your life. Is it delivering the news? Is it delivering humor? Is it helping you to stay in touch with the lives of your friends? And most importantly, how does the content make you feel?

Adjust your dose for each website according to your news feed and the purpose it plays in your life.

For example:

  • I use YouTube mostly for learning and sometimes for entertainment.
  • Once a day I take a hard laughter or cuteness dose. So I go to imgur or /r/funny subreddit for 2 minutes. It does the job without me digging deeper into the ? ? of ? videos.

The Dose Of Your Screen Time ?

As someone who works on the computer, it’s hard for me to limit screen time. So instead, I reduce the impact of screens on my eyes.


a) I keep the brightness of my devices to the minimum.

b) I use blue light blocking apps (f.lux or iris for the computer, twilight for android, and night shift mode for iPhone)

c) I take breaks to blink, move my eyes and look at a distance for a few seconds.

The Dose Of Foods You Eat ?

If you haven’t already, learn the impact of the food you put in your body. Food plays a crucial role in impacting your mood, energy, stress, focus, memory, and overall health.

It not only influences your current behavior but the compound effect of what you eat is the difference between life and death.

The dosage principle fits perfectly with food. According to your goals, decide the percentage of types of food you’ll eat in a day or week.

If you generally want to be fit and healthy and have no medical condition, eat healthy most of the time and enjoy treats once in a while. But if your health and fitness goals are bigger or if you’re already diagnosed with a condition, aim to lower the dose of unhealthy foods even further.

The Dose Of Moving Your Body ?

If you work on a computer or sit a lot, you must take your movement dose throughout the day.

While working out is always beneficial for your mind and body, it can’t mitigate the damage of prolonged sitting.

The dose doesn’t have to be complicated or long. It could include — standing up, walking, doing jumping jacks, stretching, correcting posture, or changing sitting position.

Find the opportunities to move in your daily life. Take the stairs, park your car farther away and walk to reach short distances instead of using transport.

I know it’s a human tendency to do things the easy way but if you put little effort to use these opportunities, you will make big wins in a small time.

Related: Life Designer’s Toolkit — Top Health Tools

The Dose Of Things You Buy ?

Track your spending and assign different categories to each purchase. Now, I’ll not tell you how much you should spend on each category because every person has different values and priorities.

Categories could include groceries, personal care, entertainment, education, utilities, transportation, medical, insurance, savings, and more. Know the dose for each category and spend appropriately.

When you know where your money goes, you stop shopping randomly when you’re boredAnd if you spend extra on a certain category, try to adjust it from another one.

The Dose Of Relaxation ?

The purpose of relaxation is to recover from work and enjoy the things you love doing. 

It’s during the recovery time when growth happens. As a bonus, you boost your creativity and expand your horizons. But if you overdose on relaxation, it can lead to addiction and unhealthy consequences.

I assign time for rest and recovery and it works wonders for me. But when I extend the dose, my focus, and productivity drop during work time. The “hangover effect” of overdosing affects my work so I take conscious breaks and recovery sessions. And I kill the unhealthy addiction as soon as I see it coming.

In the same way, I sleep for the optimal amount I need to perform best without feeling sluggish the whole day.

The Dose Of Learning ?

I’m a lifelong learner and I learn something every day. But sometimes, my love for learning backfires when I learn too much and apply nothing.

So when I learn, I make sure not to learn for so long that I forget about the action steps.

Balance your learning dose with a “practicing” dose to get real benefits from what you learn.

Related: Life Designer’s Toolkit — Top Learning Tools

The Dose Of Stress ⏲

Most of the time, stress is not something we choose. It just comes in our lives from different sources like work, relationships, environment, and so on.

However, to maintain an optimal amount of flow in work and life, you need the right amount of acute stress. In the simplest terms, you experience flow when you get lost in an activity so much that you forget the notion of time.

Flow increases your focus and makes you happy. So if you’re already stressed in life, you should definitely try to minimize it by lowering your cortisol levels. But when you want to work on something important and you don’t have enough “stress” to do the work, give yourself targets, constraints, and deadlines to induce flow.

The right dose of stress at the right time is hard to maintain but works amazingly well when it happens.

The Dose Of Alertness ?

Like you need an optimal amount of stress to get in the flow state, you also need an optimal level of arousal in your brain to maintain mental alertness and motivation.

For more on managing neurochemicals in your brains read: Supercharge Your Mood, Productivity, Motivation And Happiness By Hacking Your “Feel Good” Neurochemicals

Here’s one simple example of how I optimize arousal while working. According to my motivation and alertness, I put or don’t put music in the background. For example, I’m writing this post in silence but sometimes, I like to listen to rain, cafe, nature, or repetitive music to maintain the same amount of alertness.

The Dose Of Imperfection ?‍♂️

Lastly, give yourself permission to be imperfect. For all the doses you set for yourself, you can stop feeling guilty if you’re less than perfect.

Imperfection is not an excuse to go back to the downward spiral of negative thoughts and bad behavior.

Take your imperfection dose to pick yourself back up and get back on track.

Final Words

You don’t have to be perfect.

You can stop the feelings of shame, guilt or regret.

By using the dosage principle, you can define your own rules without anyone else telling you what you should or should not do.

Take ownership of your imperfect self by using the dosage principle.

Know yourself, choose your dose and live smarter.

Ready To Optimize Your Life?

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