Monday, October 4, 2010

Project management

Monday, September 13, 2010

Measuring your health

Are you currently on a diet, or planning to start one? Most people who try to drop a few pounds are obsessed with measurements. They check their calorie intake, waistline and weight. This is all fine, but do they have a meaningful plan to ensure proper progress? I think they don’t.

There was a fantastic article on this subject in a trade journal I sometimes skim through; Chemical Engineering Progress (August issue). If you are interested, you can read the article for yourself. However, here are the take-away points:

Monitor your fat percentage, not weight alone. Aim for a loss of one-half percentage point per week for sustained and sustainable fat-loss.

Also plan for a 500-calorie energy deficit; make sure you take in less calories than you burn each day. A difference of 500 calories should be efficient (and result in approximately one-half percentage point drop per week in fat percentage).

How do you measure fat percentage? There are several machines available, but for a quick estimate, you can compute it from measuring your height, waistline and neckline and combine all of that in a formula:

For men: F=86.01 x log (WC – NC) – 70.04 x log (H) + 36.74

For women: F=163.205 x log (WC + HC – NC) – 97.68 x log (H) – 78.387

  • WC = waist circumferance (in)
  • HC = hips circumferance (in)
  • NC = neck circumferance (in)
  • H = height (inches)

Aim for 1/4 inch accuracy. Good luck!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer ramblings: the art of not checking mail

I just finished the book "the 4-hour workweek" by Tim Feriss. I found his thoughts are pretty much aligned with mine: measure what counts, eliminate distractions, and do not over-communicate. Too bad he published his book before I started this blog.

I think the best point of the book is the focus on not checking email too often. Simply rurnng off push notification on the phone is bliss.

Enjoy the summer and close Outlook before is's too late!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dodging the tax collector - legally

Do you pay your taxes with a smile? I figured not. At least I know that I don't. Some of it, sure. I'm all in for pooling up money for the good of society, but not like giving away my savings. It is my money, earned through my value creating activities anyway, right? So, how can we avoid just handing the money over to the tax collector, without risking jail time or big fines?

Well, there are many ways, and which ones you can use depends on where you live, your attitude towards risk and your age. I live in Norway, Europe - the little spoiled, rich country with the oil and gas in Scandinavia. We have an excellent tax saving option for young people called BSU - which is a special savings account for the first down payment on your mortgage, which gives you a tax exempt on a portion of the money you put into that account. So, if you are saving for you first house, this is an excellent option.

Lots of people are putting away money for retirement, and they should. Even in countries with large social welfare programs this is a necessity if you want to keep a high standard of living after you quit working. In many countries there are tax-exempt mutual funds you can invest in with a fixed savings plan. Many of these are geared towards retirement planning, and some may be presented as retirement insurance with a savings option. Check out what's there in your own country.

Also, if you are going to get rid of stocks where you will realize a loss, that loss will give you a tax reduction in most civilized countries. Therefore, dump the losers and save the tax (if you don't think they will regain their lost value).

What about short term tax dodging then? Well, I haven't really found any legal ways to do that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Coping with cold weather

I have been to busy to update this blog for a while. Amazingly enough, people still keep coming back to it. I am stunned and grateful for this fact.

This winter has shown few signs of global warming. Of course, linking the weather the last couple of months in those places where I have been roaming for this period to global warming is bogus. However, it is still a very realistic local cooling happening. Europe has seen the coldest start of January in 30 years, and temperatures down to -40 degrees (Celsius) have been reported in Norway and Sweden. How do we cope with such temps without severely limiting our lives?

Some limitation must be taken into account. However, there are a few things we can do to make life more comfortable. First of all, get yourself some woolen clothes, preferably 100% wool underwear (not your boxers or lingerie, but to cover most of your skin). This'll make your outdoor adventures more endurable. Second, get some nice music on your new portable device. Did you get a nice iPod touch for X-mas? Lucky you! Then, buy some books. Hide inside your home and enjoy the literature. Some very nice reads I've enjoyed lately:

And - behold - remember to drink enough coffee! 

Award Winning Farm Roasted 100% Kona Coffee, Whole Bean, Medium Roast, 1 Lb

Monday, October 12, 2009

Drips of recreation

We all know that recreation is important for a good life. What counts as recreation varies from one person to another. The other day I discovered the effect of doing "something else". Usually, I am not the one shopping for groceries at our house - I tend to work (sometimes even intensely) until I leave office for the commute back home. The other day I stopped at the grocery store (one of the up-market kinds) to get something nice for dinner. I got some nice fresh food - and a gourmet coffee for the car ride - took about 30 minutes extra out of my schedule. This little break from the daily routine really gave me a lift. So - I am definitely going to look for more routine-breakers - they can really save the day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Charging.... please wait

Batteries need to be charged now and then to provide energy to our gadgets. Now its vacation time and batteries are working overtime while we are recharging our internal batteries. I've been off to a couple of weeks of vacation time now, and it has been deliberating. Although I feel that I have a good grasp of managing my own work day, some time without thinking about work at all is really good. Lazy days with books, coffee, family and friends has really brought me into a state of mind that the professional world is very efficient at taking away from people. I think it is called harmony.

So... since this is a very nice feeling, I started thinking. How to bring more harmony into the workplace when the vacation is over - to elongate the effect of the holidays? I came up with three bullet points that I will test when I have spent a few more weeks doing absolutely nothing but reading, swimming and relaxing;

  1. add some physical activity during the work day (my job is very far from manual labor...), like a walk during lunch time (I know this is a classic, I've just never made myself do it).
  2. plan for procrastination... or plan for meaningful breaks duirng the day. Like reading a poem. If you plan for it, it won't make you stressed out.
  3. cut through during stalled meetings such that you don't have to spend your time there.

When I am back to work I will start to practice this and try to devise a way to judge the effect of it on my own well-being as well as my work day productivity.

Enjoy the holidays!