Weekly Head Voices #69: No sugar added.

This time, the head voices are echoing the span of time ending strictly on Sunday, April 27 at 23:59.

I have to break my rule and reach through past the start of that week however. On Wednesday April 16 I had quite a heavy sugar crash. After about 12 cups of coffee, each with a spoon of sugar (as per usual), some chocolates from the Stone Three sweetie jar during lunch ,and two giant coconut crunches at about TU Delft sugar fix time (yes children, I do my best to commemorate the sugar fix, even at 11000 km distance from you), my energy levels dropped through the floor and no amount of coffee could get them close to normal again.

That’s when I decided to stop taking sugar.

On Thursday April 17 I went cold turkey. I’m not taking any table sugar at all, no cookies or sweets (ARGH), and I’m even steering clear of breakfast cereals. Pretty boring, I know. After more than a week of completely unscientific N=1 case “study” experience, I can report that:

  • It took some getting used to my coffee without any sugar.
  • My perceived energy levels seem significantly more stable, and I remain all energetic until late at night. Sometimes I don’t sleep, because I run around in the neighbourhood making growling noises. Sometimes I wake up, miles away from home, with all kinds of gunk under my finger nails. Oh well.

On the topic of quitting, let’s talk about all of those lists we love so much. You should really go read Noeska’s presentation on Productivity, Project Management and Other Important Stuff in her latest status update blog post. Besides all of the Getting Things Done and Pull Yourself Together tools and systems she presents, I was happy to see her talk about the dangers of productivity tools on slide 23, and especially the “doing the right things vs doing things right” dilemma.

You see, I’ve been thinking much about this lately. Usually when I’m doing the most valuable and important things (designing and building new products, learning new programming languages, coming up with brand new ideas for artefacts to build) my email inbox starts overflowing and my todo system (currently todoist, which I do like) stagnates (my todoist karma is currently ZERO. I’m at KARMA ZERO damnit!!). Conversely, when I’m almost at inbox zero and my todoist is under control, it feels great, but I’m tired because I’ve spent all of that time taking care of a bunch of emails and mostly urgent but almost no important tasks.

Some people I’ve chatted with are hardcore enough to make the classification between important and urgent in their lists. However, when I see that list of tasks, my OCDs take over and I go into 100% reactive mode. NO ROOM FOR CREATIVITY.

I’m still thinking about how to solve this problem. I do think that the lists and the systems are really important, because some things do really need doing at certain points in time. For now, I’m still picking the three (or two, or one) most important things to do per day (see Noeska’s presentation, also see pro tip #2 in this 2011 post of mine). Also, what does work remarkably well for me, is maintaining a daily “done” or “I did it” list. Go read this, you can thank me later.

After all of that, the weekend took us to Vaalvlei, a picturesque wine farm just outside of Stanford:

Vaalvlei wine farm, just outside of Stanford.
Vaalvlei wine farm, just outside of Stanford.

Here we were treated to a super-exclusive wine tasting of the Vaalvlei Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Shiraz Reserve, 2011 Shiraz, Shiraz port, and the top TOP secret Shiraz cognac right from the cask (don’t tell anyone, ok?):

Vaalvlei wine and cognac tasting
Vaalvlei wine and cognac tasting

I can report that these hand-crafted wines and the cognac were all beautiful, but I trust that my friend De Wijnrecensent (aka the Tall Philisophical Neighbour! all secrets are revealed on this blog.) will have more to say about this in a few months time.

Enjoy the rest of the week kids!

5 thoughts on “Weekly Head Voices #69: No sugar added.”

  1. I am proud of your renouncing your sugar habbit! Also, I now find myself reading your weblog updates rather frequently and now I am considering following your example.

    1. Thank you Philip, also for all of the relevant information!

      You _have_ to join the weekly status update blog club. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all, until you google something, and you find a post answering all of your questions, written by yourself 3 years ago. ;)

  2. Wow, thank you for the links, the visitor count to my blog is positively skyrocketing ^^.

    Congratulations on quitting sugar! I’ve done the same for some months now (although by now, one snack a day seems to be finding its way back into my daily routine (sugar fix!). Actually, I started it because it was recommended by my dentist, but I’ve also lost a lot of weight from just that and notice a difference in my perceived energy levels too.

    I’m also still not sure there’s a way to fix this ‘doing the right things’ thing. Tasks that do not add real value are typically easier and less daunting, so I tend to do those for the nice rush of endorphin I get from the completion and the things I should really be working on get postponed. I am trying out a Scrum board with only the real meaningful tasks on it, so I get a visual cue of what is happening. Ideally I would want the task completed/value added balance to be better, so I am also thinking of dividing my day in two, where the whole morning will be spent on the difficult/important things and the afternoon is free for the lighter/urgent work.

    Keep those weekly head voices coming!

  3. N++ ! I’ve been “off” sugar for years and there’s no going back. Yellow Black Cat and all that jazz.

    One thing that works for me though is what I call “buffering” – before I indulge in that rare bit of sugar, I’ll eat a handful of nuts or whatever, and that prevents me from crashing as hard.

    Also, regarding what to do with one’s time, how about simply ignoring the boring stuff and just doing what you enjoy? *trollface*

    1. Dang, thanks for the awesome buffering tip!!

      W.r.t. to your just doing what I enjoy: I agree, and it’s part of Altucher’s advice, but there’s a certain risk involved of course. :)

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