Couch to 5km – time to step it up!

For a while now, I’ve been working on my health and fitness a little bit. I decided that I needed to get back to a decent level of physical health to increase my work performance and preserve my mental health.

So, the key steps so far have been:

Ketogenic diet. I’ve reduced carbs to a very low level, and worked on balancing protein and fat to get into ketosis. This is good for weight loss, and also a very positive step for someone with Type II diabetes. It’s absolutely the easiest diet for me, and as long as I stick to some simple rules it yields some good results. I’ve lost a bunch of weight, and at some point will share some before and after photos.  Links to Keto information – here and here)

Get Moving. I’ve been trying to get 30 mins of exercise every day. I bought an Apple watch, mainly to turn it into a game for me (plus I like gadgets) and I try and do something every day to get my pulse moving. I rotate between the Gym, some swimming and if I cannot spare so much time, then I get off the tube a couple of stops early and walk a mile to work.

The next step(s) – Couch to 5km

So far, I’ve enjoyed what I have been doing, but I needed a new target. After a bit of research I decided to attempt the Couch to 5K programme.  I’m following the one shared by the NHS in the UK – and there is a supporting app for the runs.

This is 9 weeks of guided runs, designed to get you to run for about 30 minutes or 5km. The app allows you to choose your coach, I’m working with Sarah Millican right now!

Now, I am not a natural runner. I’m still too heavy, and running takes me back to my school days when I was wheezy and exercise adverse and not necessarily happy. I’m not sure my feet work properly.

However, I can walk 5km, sometimes 6 or 7 – so with a bit of practice, I should be able to jog 5m slowly. Right?

I’m aiming for a few benefits – free exercise (wherever I am), more weight loss and becoming a crashing bore about jogging.

I’m keeping a video diary – will post them here – the first two are below.

Ditching your smartphone – is it for you?

I’ve written before about digital detox, and the benefits that reducing electronic clutter and dependence on devices has had on my productivity, and mental health.

This weekend, I was interested to read a story that started in the tabloids about Simon Cowell, who has reportedly given up his mobile phone for the last ten months.

On the surface, this seems like a great story, but it got me thinking. Here is a successful businessman, taking control of his dependence on devices and looking after his mental health. Cowell says he spent a lot of his time ‘irritated’ at his phone and then annoyed at others using their phones while in meetings.

Simon Cowell is not alone, plenty of notable names have talked about detoxing from devices, but the truth is that these people can afford to do that.

Ditching your devices is the ultimate luxury – giving back time and privacy in one fell swoop.

I’m sure that I could ditch my phone if I had people around me that would use theirs instead.

The reality is that most of us run our lives ourselves, using our phones as an essential tool to stay in touch with work or friends, access goods and services and sometimes get entertainment.

However, there has to be a balance.

Its fair to say that there are definite issues with over-dependency on smartphones and tablets, data tells us that many people look at their phones within 15 minutes of waking up and work-life balance can be severely impacted by intrusions into leisure and rest time.

Solving this requires an investment of time and effort, but there are simple steps that you can take that will help.

  1. Reduce the number of notifications and alerts that disturb you or break concentration. Switching off pop-ups, removing red ‘badges’ and uninstalling apps that generate alerts are good steps.
  2. Schedule periods of time without your smartphone nearby. These unbroken times of concentration can drive high productivity.
  3. Remove smart devices from the bedroom, to encourage better rest and sleep.
  4. Carefully ‘curate’ the things allowed into your inbox so that when you do handle email, you are not processing pages and pages of ‘junk’ email.

All of these steps have helped me become way less dependant on my smartphone, and more aware of the people around me.

So, whilst ditching the smartphone may not be an option for most of us – we may be able to reap some of the benefits without creating a dependency on other people to do work for us.

Read: 12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson

This is a review of 12 Rules for Life: An antidote to chaos, a book written by Jordan Peterson. You can read my other 2018 book reviews here.

It’s fair to say that Jordan Peterson is enjoying a ‘moment’, from academic to YouTube ‘person of interest’, there has been no escaping the coverage.

I bought 12 Rules for Life before my trip to New Zealand, and read it during the long flights, and in my hotel in Auckland.

As the title suggests, the book is divided into 12 chapters, each one titled with one of the rules that Peterson has devised. Largely speaking these are matters of ethics, and the author uses science, religion, philosophy and literature to make his case for each of the rules.

The origin of the book, is a set of questions that Peterson was asked on Quora. In turning those questions into the 12 Rules, Peterson has presented an essay supporting each of the ideas.

The 12 rules are as follows:

  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  • Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  • Make friends with people who want the best for you
  • Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  • Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  • Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  • Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  • Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  • Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  • Be precise in your speech
  • Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  • Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

The overarching principle of the book is that every person has a basic instinct for ethics and should be able to find a meaning for each of these rules. The essays present a number of comparisons or examples.

For example, in the first chapter; “Stand up straight with your shoulders back”. Petersen gives a number of examples of social hierarchies, including the behaviour of lobsters as allegories for how people can (and should) accept the responsibility of their own lives. The lobster example is funny, and written well – although quite lengthy.

Overall, I found the book enjoyable. The ‘rules’ are largely common sense, and I suspect that the examples could have been stripped back to very short essays if the author was inclined. There is a fair amount of ‘grandstanding’ in the examples and language used – and some may find the depth of the examples a bit off putting.

In summary, 12 Rules is a self-help book for our age – the rules and the examples are sometimes old fashioned, but the underlying principles are sound.

Working Out Loud Circle – Week Twelve

This is the final part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

After a break of a few weeks, we reconvened our Working Out Loud circle for our twelfth and final meeting on Friday. It felt familiar, and good to be back together as a group.

As usual, we opened with our check-in. After a gap of 6 weeks, everyone had a lot of news to share. Some of it related to Wokring Out Loud, and some was broader, but it was great to hear about what had been keeping everyone so busy. We had updates on travel, hobbies, business and leisure activities.

The break felt like we were starting afresh in some ways. The general emotion of the team was one of excitement; getting closure, hitting milestones and celebrating our journey.

Reflecting on our goals

At the beginning of the circle, we all set individual goals. Some changed and evolved along the way, mine included.

I felt a bit derailed towards the end of the WOL journey, business travel stole my time and I felt like I had let my goal slip out of sight.

My biggest reflection was that when I deliberately focus on WOL, then it works and brings benefits very quickly. Therefore, when things threaten to derail me, I need a stragey to create resilience.

When I think back to taking a three-week trip with a lot of travel, I should have reframed my goal, and had a different intention to keep up my writing habit and keep my goal in mind.

I know now.

Letters to the future


We discussed our letters to the future, with reflections, predictions and aspirations. It was wonderful to hear everone so focused on the future and what changes WOL had initiated.

I sent my letter to myself on futureme.org – for once, I won’t publish it here.

This one is for me.

Pay it Foward


We had a lot of discussion about how we would pay the WOL work forward. Some of our group have thought about joining another circle, or working on programmes to bring WOL to wider audiences.

We discussed how we could continue our time together. Our group has been productive and energising, and there is a sense that we want to continue meetings, with a set agenda for WOL ‘Alumni’.

Personally – I think there is no coincidence that I lost my way with my goal, at the same time as we slowed down our meetings. My #mutanfall group acted as a set of the most amazing accountability buddies.

It looks likely that we will continue as a group, and we’re working on scheduling those meetings for the future.

My key takeaways

  • The WOL circle has been a productive use of time – inspiring me to some different ways of working and adding the experience of reading the book.
  • The effort of Working Out Loud needs to be deliberate and focused in order to maximise the benefits.
  • I made some great friends through the process – and I think that anyone who gets into a WOL circle will have that opportunity as well.

Sunday Six Pack #12

The internet can be a scary and confusing place – never fear, I’ve got this.

Pour yourself a coffee and enjoy the Sunday Six Pack, all killer, no filler, just six of the best links curated from a week of reading. Previous editions here.

Compiled whilst listening to : Hammock / Columbis OST

The Sunday Six Pack - great reading from across the web, curated for Sunday enjoyment Click To Tweet

Friday Customer Experience Pack #12

Every Friday, I round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week. Previous editions are here.

Personalisation will become critical as technology interfaces become more intimate. When your IA starts calling you by name, you'll want it to know more about you and your preferences. Click To Tweet

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.



Have you lost your Klout?

If you are missing Klout, the social media scoring service which was shuttered recently, than maybe it’s time to check out Skorr.

When Klout announced it would be going offline soon, people started looking for a new tool to judge their social media reach by.

Enter Skorr from Portugal, a great looking app which allows you to connect your social media sites and aggregate your progress in building a following.   Currently, Skorr connects Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Tumbler into a single dashboard and analyses your posting to get a score from 1 – 100.

The team at Skorr say that they measure 32 different KPI’s to derive your number, with social media behaviour driving the number up or down accordingly.

Skorr then ranks you in amongst your connections so you can see how you compare to your network.

Whilst Skorr currently lacks the range of connections that Klout had, it seems to have made an excellent start – and already people are working on how they can ‘find the recipe’ for  ensuring they increase their score.

You can try Skorr here – downloading the IOS, Android or Microsoft App to get started quickly.

 

Off the wagon

Three weeks of business travel, and a long Bank Holiday weekend has thrown me clean from the wagon.  I have a backlog of posts to write – from things I have watched, read and listened to on my travels as well as a blog review for April which will no doubt chasten me.

However, it’s my blog – I forgive myself.

But it’s time to get back on the wagon.