Andy Gibson of School Of Everything (disclosure: I’m an investor and board member) pinged me via this post. I was asked to list five things I do to keep myself mentally well (which I do below), to link to the Mindapples site (which I just did) and to invite, publicly, five others to do the same (which I will do at the end of this post).
1. I go for a 30 min walk daily, varying my route as much as possible. Before I set off, I try and gauge how many steps I will need to reach my destination. This involves visualising the route, breaking it down into estimable chunks and then rounding it off. Then I try and keep count of the steps while thinking about other things. At the end of the walk I learn something about my estimation capacity, as also my ability to do foreground and background tasks in parallel.
2. Every night I will read for at least two hours, online and offline. Often it is more, but the minimum is two hours. At any given time I tend to be reading a number of books, sometimes as much as ten. Some I would I have just started, some would be nearing their finish. When I read at night, I try and switch between books a couple of times, just to learn about keeping switching costs low.
3. In the morning, on my way to work, I write down the things I want to get done regardless of other calls on my time. Then at the end of the day I look at the list, see how I’ve done and then throw it away. I never look at the list in between. The idea is to establish priorities very clearly in my head, priorities that will stand against the vagaries of the day. I have always been bemused by how people tell me about the importance of fixed and variable costs and keeping them in balance, and then they proceed to fill their day up weeks in advance. Don’t understand. So I keep a lot of white space in my day, the challenge is to make sure that I get the fixed things done while adapting to what comes in. And that’s all in the mind.
4. Before I go to sleep I spend a little time counting Fibonacci sheep. This is where the sheep go 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…… or a variant. The idea is to set a goal, to reach a term between 20 and 30. I like the way it stretches me, to remember something while throwing something out. To make sure I don’t land up memorising the answers, I change term 1 and make it 4 or 97 or something like that.
5. Throughout the day, intermittently, I give myself tasks of things to recall and then promptly change tack, move to something else. The idea is to get my brain to have some sort of offline agent, doing information retrieval work for me while I do something else. When I was young, I regularly experienced the weird feeling of trying to recall something, failing to recall it quickly, and then finding it came back to me much later, when I wasn’t trying. Now I try and train that facility, asking my brain to do something for later delivery.
Weird stuff? Told you I was confused. Let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’m going to tag Kevin Marks, Kathy Sierra, David Weinberger, Steven Johnson and Clay Shirky. And use Twitter to let them know I tagged them. How else would you do it?
BTW, if any of you want to get in touch with me, I tweet as @jobsworth.