10 Minute Workout Guaranteed To Give You A Better Body Without Breaking A Sweat

Forget about your pre-workout carb load or post-workout protein shake – you ain’t gonna need ’em. On your way to the gym, take a detour to the supermarket.

Grab a basket, not a trolley, this is a workout remember.

Head for the Fruit and Veg section and grab whatever you like the look of, maybe try something new even if you don’t know what it is – there’ll be someone on youtube cooking something with it.

Next stop is the meat section, unless you’re a vegetarian of course, and take your pick of lean meats.

Now grab some rice or pasta, some eggs too.

Raid the herbs and spices section, meat and vegetables are pretty dull on their own so spend some time working out what goes with what and you’ll benefit greatly in the flavour department.

Go to the checkout, avoid the alcohol section and the treats you normally frequent.

Leave the store and spend the week eating healthy food and losing weight.

Enjoy not missing the hunger pangs junk food causes to your meat vehicle, watch your body return to a normal shape, and maybe go to the gym if you fancy it – but it’s not required.

There, 10 minutes is all it takes to lose weight and you don’t even have to sweat for it.

Don’t Let Your Body Find Out It Is Dying

I heard this from Russel Brand on a podcast. From memory, he met a older man in a gym who was in great shape and during their conversation the older man said, “Don’t let your body find out it is dying.”, what a way to put it.

Always be mobile, exert yourself, challenge your body (and mind). It’s easy to slip into sedentary lifestyle and quickly fall out of shape, it’s hard to get yourself back into shape so why make that hill harder to climb.

There’s a lot to say about Working Smarter, but in the gym there is no escaping the fact that Hard Work Pays Off. You can train smart in your strategy but frankly achieving a high level of physical wellbeing is hard and with that comes work, which is in itself hard. The rewards are worth the effort.

Work Hard and Don’t Let Your Body Find Out It Is Dying

In Business, Know A Little About A Lot

When we were at school, and college, and university, we were rewarded for knowing a lot about a little. As we narrowed our interests in college and even specialise in university, we focus all our efforts in one area and we are thrust into the workplace with that one thing we are any good at, what a vulnerable situation to be in.

I didn’t go to university so I never specialised, although I considered it, but when I went to college (twice) I studied 8 different subjects. In the UK, the majority of students will take on 3 subjects in the first year and reduce to 2 in the second year, honestly I didn’t really get that concept when I was younger and it definitely shaped my future. I didn’t do well enough across so many subjects to warrant a place in a good university and I ended up in the workplace earlier than a lot of my friends that I looked up to.

Looking back I thought I had put myself in a weaker position than my peers and assumed I would forever be working in jobs packing cigarettes, or selling paint, or carrying drunk students from their vomit sprayed toilet cubicles and out onto the street to sober up and continue on their journey to specialisation – happened more times than I can count.

I set myself a challenge and joined the military for a short period before opting out most of the way through training. I put in about 18 months of my life to this endeavour and it was probably the most valuable period of development in my life. I learnt from this experience that I (or indeed anyone) can achieve anything and go further both physically and mentally than I once thought.

With the help of some friends I found my way into software development and progressed from there. I never became particularly good in one language or discipline but I was happy with the wide varying areas I could speak of confidently. Over the years I saw gaps appear in the organisation and I gladly filled it, learning from the ground up and ensuring I was capable of dropping into any role when it was needed. Knowing a little about a lot has made me more valuable to my company and given me the safety net of being able to move from role to role should my current job not work out.

It pays to know a little about a lot because it gives you the flexibility to do what you want in work and move more freely from job to job (should you need to) and be a highly valuable asset to your company. Too useful to ignore might be the modest way to describe it.

Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know”, but make sure you ensure the next time someone asks you that question again that you can give a better answer. Learn what your colleagues are doing in other departments, you might just find the direction you want to move in an organisation, at the very least you will be able to move should your department become redundant. Learn more and more, don’t let the end of your educational years be the end of your education, you are far more mature now and in a better position to know what you need to learn and as a ‘grown up person’ you can choose what you want to learn!

30 Days Habit Change

It’s Stoptober and I love chocolate, even though I know it is bad for me. I’m quitting chocolate for the month because it is an addiction and want to remove it from my life. Chocolate is my booze.

I’m about halfway through the month now and I could care less about chocolate. I feel energetic and sharper in my mind, I’ve been more productive (outside of writing) and generally feeling better in my day to day life.

I know it’s only 15 days so far but it has got me thinking about the concept of forming a good habit, or indeed reversing a bad one, and I think I’m going to set myself a challenge every month and report my findings as I go. I can tell you now that next month is going to be fizzy drinks, which have become my crutch with the chocolate thing.

30 days to form a habit might be a bit overkill, at least based on my experience, but maybe overkill is exactly what one needs to really set a habit in stone.

The first few days are the hard part, when your body reacts and you question you resolve. I like to “punish” myself whenever I waver, like requiring 10 push ups before I can move on with my day. Once I’ve done my “punishment” I will have forgotten about the urge I was feeling and a bonus is that I knocked out 10 push ups, and that can add up during the day.

The second week is my favourite part because it is a turning point where you realise you have made it past the cravings and your body is learning to cope, and even thrive, without the sugar (or nicotine, or alcohol, or whatever).

I’m still waiting on the final 2 weeks but I expect it will be a walk in the park (I hope) and I look forward to freedom I will gain from the discipline I have developed.

Pick something, just one thing, you know needs to be out of your life sooner rather than later. Let a different vice take its place for 30 days and for the following month attack that vice. Over the course of a year you could become a new, better version of yourself, but for now just focus on one thing at a time. If you try to take on too many things at once you’ll achieve nothing, keep it simple and carry on with your life, reflect during the process and share your experience and encourage others to do the same.

Listen To One Song On Repeat For Better Focus

I’ve been trying methods of improving focus with music at work. I’m in an open plan office, which is the modern layout compared to the cubicle farms of the previous generation. With the removal of partitions we need a new way to enhance focus and avoid distractions in and around the office, so most workers opt for a big monitor on their desk and a good pair of headphones, preferably noise cancelling.

Listening to music for me has always been distracting, I’ll spend time compiling playlists ready for my work day and find the time drift away. I’ve tried classical music and movie soundtracks but the continuous new input is just distracting no matter the style of music. I had a go with those natural sound generators where you can configure some woodland environment in the rain with a train chugging along and all that but it hasn’t become a habit for me.

I listened to Matt Mullenweg on Tim Ferriss’ podcast and they shared a conversation about the power of repetition, with Tim watching Shawn Of The Dead on repeat whilst writing, while Matt listened to a single piece of music on repeat to improve focus. So I gave it a go and found some success but nothing really settled for me until…

…I put Juicy by Notorious B.I.G on repeat. Now it might not work for everyone but the rhythm of the song syncs with me, the beat is simple, and the bassline feels good. The song itself is great for working too, the message of hustling is obviously relevant when you are trying to focus on your tasks.

Experiment with music you listen to and see what you can tolerate on repeat first, then narrow your focus to a specific artist, and finally a song. It might not be the most obvious genre of music so be open to what you might end up listening to, at the end of the day it is for your focus and you alone as you will likely be listening on headphones anyway. I tried Pitch Perfect movie soundtracks, Bieber, and Heavy Metal, before settling on Juicy.

Getting Better At User Stories

I’ve been running product teams for 3 years now and been part of product teams for 7, I’ve seen the failures and successes from both perspectives and there are 2 approaches to a given project that will definitely fail.

Approach 1 is for the delivery lead to go into a room alone and flesh out the requirements and subsequent user stories alone, finally emerging and presenting their vision to the rest of the team. This approach almost always results in questions from the team members and missing requirements identified.

Approach 2 is to involve the entire team and maybe even the stakeholders in a workshop to outline the requirements and subsequent user stories. The stakeholders will invariably end up having arguments amongst themselves about what they want and what is most important. The product team will outline the requirements and user stories to capture almost everything, but there will always be something missed that comes up later.

Either approach ends up with lost time but there is a strategy that will enable teams to leverage short meetings to focus their efforts. By conducting a mini-workshop focused on a single objective or minimum marketable feature, the right participants can be identified and invited. This also breaks down the greater vision to a single objective that can allow the team to see the wood for the trees, so to speak.

Story mapping is a good visual process that allows you to identify the sequence of actions in a user journey and the alternative paths a user might take. Each action is written in such a way that the word ‘then’ can be inserted between each pair…

Sign in -> Then -> Search Products -> Then -> Add Product To Basket -> Then -> Purchase Product

Post-it notes and a wall are ideal for this approach because you can easily move actions along the sequence axis as well as up or down the alternatives axis. The alternatives axis allows the team to agree what actions are most important and which are less important.

This approach of small workshops spread across a project leads to a better delivery of the product over time, compared with outlining everything upfront and finding everyones memory fails when they try to recall something 6 weeks later. Our modern brains are not designed to hold onto information for long periods, that is why computers are for, by having computers to store information we free up brain power to be creative and in the moment.

Twitter Is A Strange Company

While other social platforms are pushing into the realms of AI and other forward thinking initiatives, for some reason Twitter seems to have a bunch of 6 year olds making decisions. The latest ground breaking idea has been to increase the character limit for a tweet from 140 to 280, you can imagine the board room with the pensive faces and “deep” thinking going on, only the silence is broken by some wise soul who blurts out…

Idea man: “How about more characters?!”
Yes man: “I like it, but how many more?”
Idea man:”…”
Yes man: “How about twice as many?”
Idea man:”Brilliant! I will summon the engineers. Let the stakeholders know we’ve figured it out.”

Seriously. I use Instagram daily and every time I go on there I am being served fresh new content relating to my usage patterns and preferences. They’re not adding more filters, although that was the selling point in the first place, they are thinking outside of that box and making progress. Yes they are copying their competitors but frankly who isn’t, it’s a sound strategy to keep up with your competitors. Along with that though they are breaking the mould and stakeholders are reaping the rewards.

I only use Twitter for 2 things; joining the conversation during and event or TV show, or complaining to companies.

When a TV show is on and they have a hashtag it is easy to join the conversation and drop one liners, a creative endeavour where you try to form your thoughts into a short quip. Sometimes I’ll come up with something I am happy with and other times I can’t break it down to 140 characters, and that is ok and just means I have nothing to say. Pushing to 280 characters just means there will be more room for nonsense comments that haven’t been nearly as carefully curated.

Complaining to companies is my other joy, I know I can call a company out on Twitter and they will in most cases magically become more responsive than they would be through their other customer care channels. Making it public means I the consumer is held accountable for my approach and the company is held accountable for their response. The 140 character limit means we can have a conversation back and forth to resolve a situation without either party ranting on and on regardless of the character limit.

These 2 uses might not be the right answer for everyone but then I’m not being paid by Twitter to figure this out for them. They have the data, and maybe they’re reading it in such a way that it supports their original hypothesis. That echo chamber thinking and seeking data that supports your assumptions is what sinks companies. Twitter needs to let go of what it started out as and let the usage data drive their development, it could be very different but that should be the roadmap they build for themselves.

280 characters is possibly the weakest idea going and I’m embarrassed for Twitter to see that it is even in the news at all. That just shows how meaningless anything Twitter does is. For such a big player they are making ripples when they should be making waves.