13 Weeks: Thinking Out Loud


So it’s a week until my next 13 Weeks experiment, and I’m trying to get my head in order around what to do next, so I’m going to write about it to you folks.

There were some interesting comments last week, the most interesting being, essentially, “don’t think so much, just relax, get out and do stuff.”

Which, well, that’s easy for you to say. But let’s resort to some somewhat discredited pop-psych here: I’m an INTJ/INTP on Myers Briggs, I’m fairly high up the Asperger’s scale, I’ve lost a lot of time and energy to severe depression, and yes, for me this is kinda grade school. I want, even this late in life, to make some things work that frankly most people figure out early.

If you haven’t grown up by 50, you don’t have to.

Now, this has hardly been all bad. From childhood the two things I really wanted to do are work with computers and write, and by golly, that’s what I’ve done, and I haven’t done badly at it despite some of the other challenges: I’ve got around a dozen patents, I’ve done some significant work in software architectures, I’ve written at this point hundreds of articles for actual cash money, including supporting myself entirely through writing for months at a time. But I don’t see any reason to stop; there are still things that would make my life better — and of course there are things to do so I not only make life better but I’m alive to enjoy it.


I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying. — Woody Allen

So the first thing on my list for the next 13 Weeks experiment is the same thing that led to my first experiment a year ago: I want to be healthier and less likely to die relatively young, like my father (a month after his 69th birthday) or my mother (2 days before her 77th.) Plus, the longer I hold out, the more likely something like the NAD+ research will come along to really lengthen things. I’ve heard people talk about how they wouldn’t want to live forever, but you know what? In the depths of depression I had thoughts like that, and when the depression went away they stopped.

Me, I’m going to keep climbing the tree as long as the tree holds out. (Geek quiz: who am I quoting?)


Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. — Benjamin Franklin

But the longer I go without a major depressive episode, the more aware I am of all the things I’ve wanted to do but just didn’t have the energy. Oh, I’ve done things, but I’ve got a lot of things undone — novels started, books outlined, languages unlearned, places unvisited. Plus I’ve got an exciting new job, with new things to be invented. I can’t work many more hours than I do (and in fact want to work fewer) and that means finding a way to make more progress than I have been.

So those two things together — plus the desire to avoid another acute depression — mean making changes.


The key to making a change is to stop doing the same thing you’ve been doing. — Me

So, what can I do to make a change. Here’s my thoughts.

Diet and Exercise

As people who’ve been following this column already know, I’ve messed about with this a fair bit in the last year. I’ve learned some things from this:

  • Weight in itself is a troublesome thing to measure or track, especially if you’re not losing weight quickly. It can be very hard on your morale to be trying to lose a couple pounds a week when your weight can vary randomly by five pounds in a day.
  • Food diaries are helpful but have their own morale issues; I had too many weeks at my current plateau where my food diary said I should be losing 2-4 pounds a week by calorie content.
  • I find it much easier to be compliant on a low-carb high-fat diet.
  • Daily fasting glucose is a lot less informative than it seems it should be.

Daily Balance

No one has ever accused me of having too short an attention span. Instead, I tend to get enthusiastic about something and dive into it, at the expense of everything else, including food and sleep, until I’m exhausted.

Well, I could get away with that nonsense a lot better when I was 20, or even in my 30s in grad school. Now it takes too long to recover, and things don’t get done while I’m recovering. (My columns these last couple months are a good example of that: I’d work 12 hours on the Sumazi stuff and not have anything left for columns.)

So, yeah, I do need a little bit of grade school discipline to get what I want.

So Here’s My Plan


Now, this is still subject to amendment and revision, the next 13 weeks doesn’t start until Sunday the 5th of January. But here’s the plan. For 13 weeks, I plan to do the following:

For life balance:

  • write morning pages every morning (something I’ve done pretty religiously for 20 years anyway)
  • shower, shave, brush teeth, breakfast and dress before I mess with the computer. (This is definitely not something I’ve been doing.)
  • Leave the house for at least 15 minutes. During daylight.
  • Get some exercise every day. Even if it’s just walking around during my 15 minutes of daylight.
  • Write 1000 words a day minimum. (This is something I got hooked into by Sarah Hoyt: 365,000 words in a year. That’s roughly half an Atlas Shrugged or a War and Peace, one and a half East of Eden‘s, or seven Fahrenheit 451‘s.)
  • Eight count’em eight hours of sleep a night, or at least enough time in bed to allow for that.
  • I’m going to religiously stop working 12 hours after I start no matter what. Mostly.

For diet and glucose:

  • I’m going to do morning fasting glucose every morning, as I have been.
  • I’m only going to weigh myself officially once a week, for the weekly column.
  • One of the diets I previously had success with was Body for Life. I’m going to modify it a bit — no potatoes or grains — but I am going to go for the 5-6 meals a day thing when I can. I’m working at home now, that’s easier. One day a week I’ll add fruit. One meal a day I’ll have some damn vegetable.

For productivity:

  • For 13 weeks I’m going to do the whole hardcore program from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and see if it works. I’ve tried in the past but haven’t found it very successful.
  • I’m going to limit the things in process to 3 or 4; other ideas I’ll write down and put into the pending pile. This is basic Kanban, and I’ll be writing more about that.
  • Every week I’m going to review what I got done and brag my ass off about it.
  • All three columns in on time every week.

So there’s the scheme. Let’s see what happens.