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Tuesday
Oct172006

Do It Tomorrow Reviewed by Academic Productivity

There's a good review of my book Do It Tomorrow on the Academic Productivity Blog dated last Friday.

Tuesday
Oct172006

Road Test: Journalling (Revisited)

I first wrote about journalling quite a few years ago, and there is a description of it in my first book "Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play" (2000). What I wrote then was:

"My own experience of writing like this for a period of about eight months, during which I hardly missed a day, was quite incredible. I described it at the time as like having a new brain. My mind became full of ideas, which seemed to bounce off each other. I became much more energetic and problems of procrastination fell away of their own accord. Although for various reasons I now write in my journal far more sporadically, I remain convinced that the practice left me with a permanently raised intelligence and far more self-awareness."

In spite of the benefits I had received from journalling, I didn't succeed in re-establishing it as a regular feature of my life for years. Then finally on 26 August this year I decided that I was going to adopt a "No Option" attitude to it. Since then I haven't missed a day.

There are many methods of journalling but the one I use is the one described in Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way": three pages a day in a spiral-bound A4 lined notebook, written without stopping to think. I'm writing this review to celebrate the completion of my first notebook this time round!

Ideally the writing is done first thing in the morning, which is why Julia Cameron calls it "The Morning Pages". Although it's good to do it as the first thing one does, I don't regard it as essential.

So what has been my experience of starting up again a practice which I found so beneficial six or seven years ago? My excuse for not doing it was that I had already got as much benefit from the practice as I would ever get. Did that prove to be true?

My experiences since 26 August have in fact been exactly the same as I experienced at first:

  1. my mind has been noticeably sharper
  2. ideas have started to flow again
  3. procrastination has vanished

Let's say a little bit about each of these:

Sharper mind. I have found again that my mind is working much quicker when thinking through ideas. I also have more confidence in being able to think on my feet when needed. Before I tried journalling for the first time, I would often find it difficult to think what to say in meetings or how to reply when asked a direct question. This hasn't been a problem since, but I have definitely found less mental fog since re-starting. I can usually measure this by the number of times I have to ask myself through the day "What am I trying to do?" because I've lost the mental thread.

Flow of ideas. This has been a major change. In fact at one meeting I attended a couple of weeks ago, people were remarking in amazement at the number of ideas that were coming to me in the course of the meeting. I have made major changes in the direction of my business since re-starting journalling - and this blog is just one of the results.

Procrastination. I remember well how when I journalled before, how procrastination suddenly disappeared. I think it was because I got really enthusiastic about all the new ideas I was having. When you're enthusiastic about something, you can't wait to see how it works out. Starting journalling again had exactly the same effect this time. I've developed loads of techniques to overcome procrastination over the years, but suddenly I found myself not needing the techniques.
In short, the experience of re-visiting journalling has been that it is everything that I remember it being.

I know that many other people swear by journalling, but I also know that some have tried it and not got much out of it. This may well be a matter of individual temperament. However one thing I have found is that it is important to avoid two extremes when writing one's journal. One extreme is to make it nothing more than a factual list. I have known some people make their journalling into not much more than writing out a to do list. This may be a very useful thing to do, but it is not journalling!

The other extreme is to make it an endless exploration of one's feelings and emotions. This is very easy to fall into, especially if you are in the middle of a break-up of some sort, but doesn't really get you very far.

My own experience is that ideally journalling should consist of both facts and emotion, and above all of concepts and ideas. Journalling should be where you wrestle with ideas in the context of your own values and convictions.

And finally, there is some evidence that writing in this sort of way can stave off mental deterioration due to age and even increase one's life span. I'll report back on that one in ten or twenty years' time!

Tuesday
Oct172006

Evernote - A Note Taking Program

I've always had trouble finding a good simple program on which to keep miscellaneous notes and other odds and ends. Most of the programs I have tried are either far too complicated, lack basic functionality, or are highly unstable. Yesterday I googled "personal information manager", which I do from time to time in the hope that something new will turn up, and this time it did!

Evernote has one great advantage right from the word go - in its basic version (which is all I think I need at the moment) it's free. But it has the look and feel of a highly professional program. What's more it's highly intuitive and extremely simple to use. I was competent in just about all the basic functions within 15 minutes of downloading it.

The basic idea is that it keeps all your notes in a continuous roll, rather like a blog. With the ability to categorise and carry out instant searches, it's easy to find stuff again. When I say it keeps your notes, that probably gives the wrong impression. The "notes" can be almost anything. Text, documents, webpages, links, clippings, images - just about whatever you like.

I've already established that it's very easy to put stuff into Evernote. The real test will come when I've put a huge volume of stuff in and want to get it out again!

I'll report back in due course.

Monday
Oct162006

Structured v. Unstructured?

(This article is taken from the current issue of my newsletter)
One of the great advantages of the time management methods that I describe in Do It Tomorrow is that you know when you have finished your day's work. I don't know of any other time management system that allows you to do that. With every other system or method, you are left at the end of the day with a seemingly unending supply of further work that you could be doing. With Do It Tomorrow, you can say "That's it! That's the end of my day's work. I am completely up to date."

Another advantage of the Do It Tomorrow system is that it's easy to check whether your workload equals the time available to complete it. Because it always keeps the link between one day's worth of incoming work and one day's worth of outgoing work, you can see exactly how your work fits into your time. This again is difficult or impossible with most conventional time management systems.

This presents us with an opportunity - particularly if you are someone who works from home or owns your own business. We've all heard of Parkinson's Law: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion." You will know from your own experience that it's often when you have the least time available that you get the most done. When you have nothing in your schedule all day, then there's a tendency to faff about achieving nothing very much - so much so that you end up working late in order to get all the things done which you failed to do during the day!

But what would happen if, instead of allowing your work to expand to fill the time available, you ruthlessly pruned your work down to the essentials and aimed to finish it as quickly as possible?

Most of us have taken on far too many commitments, most of which only serve to distract us from our core work. If you concentrate on the core work and refuse to allow anything in that will take your attention away from it, then a) would you finish your work in more or less time than now? and b) would you be more or less effective at your real work?

I've been experimenting with this over the past few weeks. First of all I cut my Will Do list down to the bare minimum. I refused to allow anything into it that didn't relate specifically to the stated goals for my business. Out went all my pet projects and time wasting commitments. In came all the actions that would take my business forward. Having defined exactly what I meant by "work", I ensured that nothing that didn't comprise work was allowed a place on the list.

My next step was to start getting up at 6.30 and hitting the Will Do list straight away, allowing nothing to distract me except a quick breakfast after I'd been working for an hour or so. I found that I could finish the whole Will Do list in about four to four and a half hours. That means that I am currently finishing my whole day's work by 10.30 to 11 a.m. each day. And what's more it is far more focused than before.

So the structured part of my day is over. What do I do with the rest of the day? Whatever I want! If I want to I can get on with some of the stuff which I chucked out in order to focus on my real work. But usually I get out and do the enjoyable things which I've been meaning to do for ages but haven't had time because I've been too "busy".

So remember: it's certainly true that work expands to fill the time available for its completion, but the converse is also true - if the time available is reduced, the work will contract too.

Saturday
Oct142006

Seminars

Yesterday was the last of my three-hour seminars. They have been a great success over the two years or so that I have been running them, but now that Do It Tomorrow has been published it is time for something new.

My plan is that I will run one-day seminars for people who have read the book. By its very nature, a book like Do It Tomorrow is aimed at a general public, and can only go so far towards the needs of specific individuals. The seminars I am planning will give people the chance to apply the principles to their own circumstances. The seminars will be highly interactive, and people will also be able to share their experiences of putting the principles to work.

Those are my first thoughts. I would welcome comments on the subject.

Wednesday
Oct112006

One of Those Days

Today was one of those days in which all my plans for the day were completely disrupted by my computer refusing to go on-line when I started it up in the morning. It was 3pm before it condescended to sign on again - and I still don't know what it was I did that cured whatever it was that was wrong.

What does one do to recover from this sort of disruption? The temptation is to panic and start acting at random. It may be days before one returns to normal. How can you avoid this happening?

The answer is to return as quickly as possible to the system. If you are using the methods in Do It Tomorrow, then get back to working on your Will Do list just as soon as you can. Getting back to the system stabilises your work again, and prevents the knock-on effects.

So however frustrated and annoyed I felt mid-afternoon today (and I felt it a lot!), I made myself get back to the list. And suddenly things seemed to be back under control.

 

Tuesday
Oct102006

Similar Actions

(This article is from today's issue of my newsletter)
One of the basic rules of time management is that it is much faster to group similar actions together. This rule is the basis of the batching which I advise in Do It Tomorrow. By dealing with emails in batches rather than haphazardly throughout the day you can process them much faster. The same applies to paperwork and minor tasks.

This rule doesn’t just apply to the order in which you do tasks, it also applies to the structure of a task itself.

I’ll give you an example which I regularly come across in my own life. Something I often have to do is put the tables and chairs out for one of my seminars. I use folding tables which are kept in a storage cupboard. Three folding chairs are put out per table. These are kept on a chair rack.

Now which do you think would be quicker?

1) Get out one table, put it in the right place, unfold the legs and turn it over. Then get three chairs off the rack, open them and put them behind the table. Repeat this process one table at a time until all the tables and chairs are in position. OR

2) Get out all the tables and put each of them on the ground with the legs uppermost and still folded. Then open the legs of all the tables. Then turn all the tables over. Then put all the folded chairs on top of the tables. Then open all the chairs and put them behind the tables.

As I’m sure you’ve realised the answer is 2). It’s not just a bit quicker. It’s a lot quicker (and I have tried both ways so I know from experience!). What’s more it is a lot less boring. And what’s more if you get interrupted and can’t finish it completely, it doesn’t matter so much.

The key to efficient action is whenever possible not to do your actions in the sequence ABC ABC ABC but instead go for AAA BBB CCC. However, funnily enough, ABC ABC ABC often seems more natural at first and we often find ourselves doing these tasks in the less efficient way.

Have a think about some of your repetitive actions. Are you doing them according to the AAA BBB CCC formula? Take cleaning a house for instance. Is it quicker to tidy, dust and vacuum each room in turn, or quicker to tidy every room, then dust every room and then vacuum every room? Another example would be filling in a spreadsheet. Is it quicker to fill it in row by row or column by column? I’ll leave you to answer that one!
Monday
Oct092006

Start Small

One of the most difficult coaching situations I come across is people who can't make up their mind about what they want to do. This very often happens when they want to start a new business but can't decide what it should be. So they are full of ideas but never get down to making any of them work. Very often they decide that they can't start their business until they have got more training or have finished some lengthy training that they are taking part in at the moment.

The secret of course of getting any small business under way is to start it. If you are planning to set up some huge project for a large business then you need to plan it in the greatest detail. But the great advantage of starting your own small business is that you can start small and adjust as you go along. Everything you do is a learning experience and you will quickly learn what is best for you.

You can use the financial methods I have been talking about in the last few issues to get yourself moving. Instead of concentrating on the question of what you are going to do, instead concentrate on starting to earn money. Start with a really small goal like earning £100 and set out to earn £100 through your own business. See how long it takes to earn your first £100 and then see how long it takes to earn your next £100. You will begin to learn what you can offer that will bring money in. You will learn what works and what doesn't work. Before long you will be making your goal into earning £1,000 and so on.

You will still need to make decisions, but the decisions will no longer be a way of putting action off. They will be decisions that are made as part of an ongoing business.

Monday
Oct092006

Find the Key Action!

What do the following things have in common?

Example One: Like many people, my wife and I have various old friends to whom we send out Christmas cards every year with a note saying “We really must get together this year.” Needless to say we usually don’t. And then one year we get tired of sending out the same old vague note, and instead we pick up the phone and propose a specific date. Once we’ve done that we know that we are really going to see each other at last.

Example Two: For years I had been thinking about setting up my own full-time business, but I never really got moving on it until I took the step of giving three months notice to my employers. After that I was fully committed and my preparations started moving forward really fast.

Example Three: For many years my wife and I had been meaning to see the famous ballet dancer Sylvie Guillem in action. We’d been talking about it for years, but one day we booked tickets to go and see her dance at Covent Garden. We went a couple of weeks ago, and she was great!

Example Four: When I was considering running a series of “New Time Management” seminars, I knew for sure that they were really going to happen only when I booked the hall for the first three months worth of dates.

In each of these four examples, which range from major life changes to the fairly trivial, there was one action which committed me. Once I had taken that one action, it was almost certain that the goal was going to happen. If you look at the actions - setting a date, giving notice, buying tickets, booking the hall - you can see that in each case I was doing something which, if not completely irrevocable, would have taken me some effort, expense and/or embarrassment to go back on.

If you are having a lack of progress on a particular goal, think what key action would really commit you to that goal. Until you’ve taken that action, your goal is just a pipe-dream. Once you’ve taken it you will find that things start moving. Your mind will be fully engaged. Look for the action which is going to make the difference.

Monday
Oct092006

Pulling Cows out of Ditches?

There's an old story about what a farmer does when a cow falls into a ditch. First he gets it out of the ditch. Second he works out why it fell into the ditch in the first place. Then he makes sure that it never falls into the ditch again.

How much of your time do you spend pulling metaphorical cows out of ditches? The trouble is that when something goes wrong at work, we often pull the cow out of the ditch, but don't do anything about working out why it went wrong or mending the fence. The result is that we find ourselves pulling the cow out of the ditch over and over again.

To give a familiar example, suppose we keep losing customers' telephone numbers. Again and again we spend time looking for numbers without asking ourselves "Why did I lose the number in the first place?" The answer is probably that we don't have a proper system for ensuring that customer's data gets entered in our database. Identifying that as the problem is stage two. Stage three is putting a proper system in place.

Whenever you find something going wrong, take the time to work out why it went wrong and ensure that it can't happen again. That way a small investment of time will save you huge amounts of time in the future.

Monday
Oct092006

No S Diet: First Weekend

In the "No S" diet I'm allowed a holiday on "S Days", i.e. Saturdays, Sundays and Special Days (such as birthdays). So what was the effect on me of the first weekend?

I had very little trouble keeping to the diet during the first week. Occasionally the Nanny part of me had to give me a sharp reminder "No Seconds!" or "No Snacking!" but most of the time the diet didn't bother me at all. But I was looking forward to the weekend and the chance to have the odd biscuit, cake or chocolate.

The strange thing was that on Saturday I actually felt more like keeping to the diet than not. I almost had to force myself to have a slice of cake at tea time, and it tasted almost unpleasantly sweet. The rest of the weekend I ate much the same as I would have before starting the diet, but found myself looking forward to getting back on the diet.

That seems to indicate that it should be easy to keep to the diet in the long term. That's great, but will it result in weight loss if I do?

My intention was that I wouldn't weigh myself until the first month of the trial was over. But I must admit that I sneaked a peek on Saturday morning and found that I had lost 4 lbs. That's all to the good and was certainly encouraging. But the truth is that virtually any change in eating habits will result in that sort of initial weight loss. What counts is what happens after that first adjustment to the new regime has been made.

Saturday
Oct072006

BrainBuilder

My copy of BrainBuilder arrived yesterday, so I spent an hour or so getting it installed and playing with it. The aim of the program is to increase the sequential processing power of the brain by a series of simple exercises. What is sequential processing capacity? Basically it is the number of digits we can hold in short term memory. For instance if someone says to you "Please call 596-5873", can you remember the seven digits long enough to dial them? The normal digit span for adults is 5-9 digits. According to the program manual those with digit spans of 9 and above are functioning with superior abilities.

Since I have always had a very poor memory for things like telephone numbers and names and have never been able to remember my car registration number, I was interested to find that my rating for most of the exercises was a 5. That could explain a lot!

However it's not just relatively trivial things like memorising telephone numbers that are affected by sequential processing capacity. According to the program's creators, it lies at the basis of most of our thinking processes. Someone who is able to remember and manipulate nine factors at time while thinking through a problem is going to have a considerable advantage over someone who can only manage five.

So in road testing this program I am looking for two main things:

  1. Will it succeed in increasing the number of digits I can remember?
  2. And if it does succeed, what effect if any will that have on my thinking abilities?

Obviously the answer to Q2. is going to be a lot more subjective than the answer to Q1. However I am so bad at short-term memory that any real improvement should be very noticeable and make a significant difference to my life!

Note: I'm testing the CD version of the program. There's also an on-line version at www.brainbuilder.com which is subscription based and appears to offer more exercises.

 

Friday
Oct062006

Archive of Past Articles

I am going to start a big project over the next few days of tranferring the whole archive of my past articles into this blog (predated so they won't get in the way of new entries). There are well over 100 articles, though some of them may be a bit out of date now and need weeding.

I used to keep this archive in yahoogroups. The archive had a high Alexa rating of its own, so I hope this will prove to be a popular resource.

Keep coming back to this site, because you should find something new every time you do.

Thursday
Oct052006

Road Tests

After getting my road test of the "No S" Diet under way, there are some more which I want to write about. So a possible list of future roadlists would include:

Morning Pages (Journalling). I have already written about this elsewhere but as I've recently re-started the practice, perhaps it's time for a revisit.

The Dogs of the FTSE/Dow. A method of investing which I've been using over the last year and a half.

Brain Builder (Rocky Mountain Learning Systems). A program which claims to build one's sequential memory which according to the publishers is one of the foundation blocks of thinking. I haven't started on this yet.

And I suppose since I'm calling this category "Road Tests", I could even report on a real car or two!

Wednesday
Oct042006

File for Success!

One of the biggest reasons our offices tend to get into chaos is because we simply don’t know what to do with half the stuff that comes into our lives. If we don’t know what to do with it, we tend to put it down somewhere to deal with “later”. The inevitable result is piles of unsorted paper and a backlog of work.

One of the most important ways of ensuring that we know what to do with things is to have a filing system that is both easy to operate and completely up to date. Unfortunately most people, particularly in small businesses, try to work with filing systems that don’t properly support them. Remember: we will always tend to follow the path of least resistance. If our filing system is difficult and cumbersome to use then we will tend to avoid using it, which will then make it out of date as well - thus increasing the problem further. On the other hand if our filing system is fast, instinctive and up to date, it becomes easier to use it than not to use it. The good news is that you can have a fast, instinctive and up to date filing system fully operational by tomorrow. Here’s how.

The first step is to go out and buy plenty of lever arch files and clear enough space for them on a bookshelf. Forget about folders, ring binders, suspension files and all the rest. Lever arch files on a book shelf are the best way of filing. They stand upright, don’t fall over, can be moved around easily and it’s simple to insert and remove papers from them. What’s more you can use dividers to subdivide the contents. For things you don’t want to punch holes in, you can put them in a plastic envelope and file the plastic envelope. For very small items such as till receipts I staple them to a larger sheet of paper and file the sheet of paper. For those of you who don’t know what a lever-arch file is, here’s a picture.

How do you get a totally up to date filing system right now? It’s easy. Declare your old filing system dead and start completely afresh, opening new files as you need them. Every time you get a new piece of paper open a new file for it or put it into one of the new files you have already opened. Work the files in the way I suggested in a previous newsletter by putting the files as you use them at the top left hand end of the bookcase. With lever arch files it’s easy to move the files along to accommodate this. Doing it this way you will have a completely fresh and relevant filing system, where you can always lay your hands on the papers you use most often.

Wednesday
Oct042006

More about Systems

Have you ever found yourself complaining over and over again about something in your workplace? “I’m always losing people’s phone numbers” or “They never send visitors to the right place”.

Whenever something keeps going wrong it is a system malfunction of some sort. The key words to watch out for are “always” and “never”. The trouble is that we seldom take the time to put the system right, so the system keeps going wrong. But don’t forget that spending time on your systems is time well spent.

Sorting out a system is not only a matter of putting things right when they go wrong. Sometimes thinking up a superior system can completely transform your business. New businesses tend to set out with their major constraint being the amount of business they can get. But once the business starts to become successful the major constraint changes to the amount of business they can handle. It is vital at this stage that they put systems into place which are capable of responding to the increased amount of business.

I was greatly able to expand my own coaching business by looking at my systems for booking appointments with my coaching clients, payment and invoicing. Getting this right enabled me to take on twice as many coaching clients as before. In the same way before launching my “The New Time Management” seminars I worked out every aspect of booking, payment, issuing instructions, preparation, and follow-up. I made sure I got it right first time so that I could run a large number of seminars with minimum effort.

In both these cases it was the new system that resulted in my business and therefore my income expanding. The time I spent getting the systems right resulted in my earning over double what I was earning before.

Related article:

Friction

Wednesday
Oct042006

An Easy Challenge - or is it?

I have been developing some new exercises for my new book “Do it Tomorrow” which is scheduled for publication around June next year. I thought I would take the opportunity to share one of them with you, especially as I would like some feedback to include in the book!

This exercise is designed to make you more aware of how much or how little you are actually in control of your day. By making you more aware it should also help you to improve your control.

The exercise consists of a daily challenge in which you compete against yourself to score as many points as possible each day.

To score points, you have to decide the previous day how many points you are going to attempt to score the following day. Then you write down a list comprising that number of tasks. So for example if you decide you want to try to score three points the following day, you write down a list of three tasks. So you might write down 1) buy new calculator 2) call my sister 3) mow the lawn. The tasks should be simple and specific so that at the end of the day you either have done them or you haven’t. Then you score one point for each completed task.

That sounds easy enough doesn’t it? But there’s a catch. You only score the points if you complete every item on the list that day. If you haven’t completed every item, then you score no points at all for that day – no excuses accepted!

This of course is exactly what we don’t do when we are drawing up our to-do lists or plans for the day. We don’t draw up our list of things to do in the expectation of completing it. The result is that our days are poorly planned and at the prey of random factors. Use this exercise to see how many items you can work up to. Start with just a few – possibly even one – and keep working at the exercise day by day until you can write quite a long list and still be sure of finishing it. You may find it much more difficult than you expect. The key is to do the items on the list first thing - before you embark on the rest of the day's work.

Try this out for a week or so and then let me know how you get on and particularly let me know of any insights you get from trying it. You may even get a mention in my book!


Wednesday
Oct042006

Clear Goals or Goals that bring clarity?

One thing we are constantly being told is that we should have clear goals. I entirely agree with this, but I do wonder how many people’s goals actually bring any additional clarity to their work. I’m sure you have had the experience of setting a goal and then finding that, far from bringing a new sense of clarity, it just becomes one more thing that gets swallowed up in all the other things you have to do.

The reason I have been wondering about this is because I have become aware that goals are often seen solely in terms of defining things we are going to do. Isn’t that what goals are supposed to do? Yes, but it’s only half the story. To bring real clarity to our work, a goal also needs to define what we are not going to do as a result of selecting that goal. A goal represents a choice: “Among all the things that I could do, this is what I actually am going to do.” Our goals in other words should define the limits of what we are going to do.

The best way to get a feel for this is to compare it to going into a restaurant and ordering from the menu. Frequently these days menus contain so many choices that it can take quite some time to decide what to order: everything sounds so delicious. Eventually we make our choice and give the waiter our order. We are in effect saying: “I’m going to have the steak, and I’m not going to have the veal, the fish, the lamb, etc. etc.” Saying yes to one meal is the equivalent of saying no to all the other possible meals, however much we think we might enjoy them.

As in a restaurant, so in life – whenever we say “yes” to one thing we are saying “no” to a whole variety of alternative courses of action. At least that’s what it should be like. But for some reason in life when we say “yes” to one thing, we forget about saying “no” to all the other things. The result is that our goals fail to achieve the main point of a goal – to establish the limits of our field of action. Our goals should not just be statements of what we are going to do; they should be statements of what we are going to confine ourselves to doing.

Many of you may have read Betty Edwards excellent book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”. In it she describes how to draw the space round an object rather than the object itself. This is a way of helping us to see the object as it really is rather than allowing our preconceptions about it to dictate the way we draw it. It’s the same with our goals – we need to draw the space round our goals so that we can see clearly what that goal commits us to not doing.

Exercise:

Take one of your existing goals and try to define it exclusively in terms of what you are not going to do. So if your goal is to learn some French for your next holiday, you might write: “I am not going to do anything between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Mondays to Fridays except learn French, I am not going to allow myself to be distracted by trying to learn any other subject until after my holiday, I am not going to speak anything but French to my friend Dominique, I am not going to check my email during the time I am learning French, I am not going to read anything except French in the evening after 6 p.m., and so on…

Wednesday
Oct042006

No S Diet: First Reactions

I've decided that I won't weigh myself again until the month's trial is up, but will soley report on how the diet is going from the point of view of whether and how easily I can keep to it. If I manage to keep to it, then we will be able to see whether it's had any effect on my weight.

The first day has been really easy. I may actually have eaten more than usual because I went out to the local pub for lunch and had a curry. But I successfully resisted having a pud. No cake at tea time. No sweet pud at supper, instead I ate cheese but didn't have any seconds. So not that much different from normal. Oh, and no chocolates in spite of having a box of truffles that someone gave us.

I think this is a good diet from the point of view of ease of use. I can't see myself having any trouble keeping to it, especially if I have to blog about it all the time! That of course is a factor. Keeping oneself to doing something is much easier if one has to stand up in front of the world and say how well one is keeping to it. Constructing a supporting structure can be done by anyone of course. For instance you can report progress back to friends and family. Some people get their weight loss attempts sponsored for a charity, which again gives you a lot of support in keeping to it.

The next posting on this subject will be after the weekend, when I'll report back on what effect the two-day break has on keeping to it.

Tuesday
Oct032006

The No S Diet

I’ve decided to start a new category “Road Tests” in which I try out various projects and products on myself or by myself. The first I want to start with is something called “The No S Diet” which was recommended by Mike Brown in the Readers’ Comments on my No Options article. The diet was invented by Reinhard Engels and you can read all about it at www.nosdiet.com (And by the way one of the great advantages of this new website for me is being able to get feedback and suggestions from readers - it’s a great way for me to learn from you)

Basically it consists of No Snacks, No Sweets and No Seconds. There is also an exception: you don’t follow the diet on “S Days”, which are defined as Saturdays, Sundays and Special Days (i.e. birthdays, Christmas, etc.).

To me this sounds eminently sensible. It’s more a set of guidelines than a diet. So I’m going to try it out and I will report back in one month’s time. If anyone wants to join me, feel free to make your commitment on the Comments.

And no, I have no intention of telling you lot what I weigh now!