Duration + Intensity + Frequency


I use this regularly as a shortcut to do things differently. (I first heard about it from Jim Kwik.)

It’s like a triangle, and often I miss a side. ⃤

Knowing I have 3 options to get almost anything done helps a lot. (For example, Academia is focused on the Frequency + Duration, but misses intensity. Highlighted by Roosevelt’s success in school.)


Duration: Too long of a chat and I quickly become tiresome. Too short of an interaction and I’m forgotten.

Intensity: Have you ever gone to a conference and met those ‘networking’ people who seem to stare into your soul? (They read a book 10 years ago that said “Maintain eye contact to secure a sale” and have stuck with it since.) This is how friendships that are too intense feel sometimes.

Frequency: If you’ve ever moved in with a friend as a roomate, you’ve discovered the downside of too much frequency.

These become even cooler when combined. Sticking with the Friends example above..

//This table is a draft, why do these all sound flirty/romantic…How can I make them sound more normal.//

0 Duration
+5 Duration
+10 Duration
0 Intensity
Passing someone on the street, neither of you look at each other.
A few glances across a cafe.
A long train ride with 4 seats between us
+5 Intensity
Passing someone, we glance at each other and make eye contact
Waiting for a drink at a bar, maybe some shared banter as we wait for drinks.
Some shared introductions and glances at a long party
+10 Intensity
Passing someone, but they make you ‘feel’ something in how they act, look, or behave. (E.g. The Strange by Bukowski.)
A quick conversation in which we talk over each other because we share so much in common.
A conversation that whisks us away to a quiet back room for hours into the evening. (And continues to the next morning.)


This underlies most persuasion techniques and books. They are trying to shortcut these angles.

Each is analogous to a influence concept…

Duration: Mere Exposure Effect. (More here & here.) Persuasion attempts to speed up this duration angle with familiarity hacks.

Intensity: //drafts//

Frequency: Reject, then retreat. (More here.) Also can be seen with Gamification Concepts (

and frequency of awards.) If this angle is pressed to hard (too many rewards), they lose their value. The best frequency is infrequent. (See here &


Duration: Many runners. Marathoners.

Intensity: Many powerlifters/Olympic Lifters

Frequency: Either of the classes above.

Over time, you start to see detrimental effects if any of these levers are pushed too hard.

E.g. You cannot mix Duration (10 mile run) + Frequency (Every day) for long without breakage. If you dial down intensity (4 hours), perhaps you can survive it longer.

If you turn all dials up to 11, system collapse happens fast.

If you turn up intensity and frequency, I think you get Crossfit. Nothing wrong with it, but there’s a reason the duration doesn’t exceed a certain threshold. (45-60min)


Used in a lovely conversation on 17 January. ☕