Over the last couple of weeks, I've been avoiding sugar. Not just avoiding eating spoon-fulls of crystal sugar, but avoiding food and drink that contains sugar.

I've thinking about reducing my sugar intake for a while now. There's been enough change in how science sees the sources of weight gain to be convincing.

But regardless, I found myself eating pie on the weekend, grab a sweet snack regularly (the perils of working from home) or regularly get a cookie or cheese cake at the coffee shop. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Of course there'd always be the convincing argument to myself that I could stop anytime I want, the classic trap of letting your irrational self get in the way of rational decisions. Just ask any smoker.

But then I came across an article that pointed to actively saying no being a possible answer. Studies showed that people who said "I don't" were much more likely to resist something than people who said "I can't."

Pretty remarkable, and I wanted to turn that into an experiment with myself.

It made me think of the day when I stopped smoking, on March 30, 1999.

All I said to myself was "I'm not smoking anymore."

I chucked my remaining cigarettes without much further thought, and that was the end of it.

The hardest part of breaking out of a habit is finding a replacement. Rather than resort to a cigarette after lunch or other meals, I went for a coffee instead.

Yes, this is how my coffee affinity started.

There's something powerful in consciously saying no. One day, I decided to just say no to sugar.

That meant cutting out delicious things like cookies, cake, pie and everything else that contains processed sugar, but it's for the good of the bigger picture. Most of these are non-essential foods.

There's no rational downside to saying no to sugar.

But the real power is in consciously saying no to something. Whether it's a habit you want to get rid of, or whether it's a feature you want to add to your product or simple deciding on what you want to do with your day, your month, your life.

Saying no to something can have an incredible effect on your conscious to actually go through with it.

Knowing what not to do can be quite liberating for your mind too. It leaves room for other, more important things to do.

Tags: justsayno

Thanks to the internet and the wild things our mobile devices can now do, we can connect with people anywhere, heck, even on the toilet, what used to be a sanctuary of quiet contemplation.

We love the distractions and the small kicks we're getting when something new happens, when someone likes our photo, when someone favorites a tweet or mentions us on Twitter.

We're prone to these distractions, to being busy, to just waiting for another email to come in. I am myself. It's been incredibly hard getting out of the habit of having my life evolve around the computer all day long. In particular, because our entire business is not only running thanks to and on the internet, it's also because we're a distributed team.

Because we're split out across time zones, you'll find someone in our chat room most of the time. If it's not one from our team, there's probably a customer I can help.

It's tempting to leave the chat open while you're busy with other things. It's tempting to take a peek regularly to make sure you're not missing out on anything. It's tempting to take the laptop with you to the playground to check your email and do some work while your kid is playing (yes, I've done that too).

But what does it give you really beyond the simple satisfaction of yet another distraction?

You can't put an instant price, value or reward on just watching your child play. It doesn't reward us in the same way as someone liking our post on Facebook.

Yet it's all we strive for, the distractions, getting more work done, staying up late to fix just one more bug.

Is that what we want to look back at when as we're getting older? Are we going to measure us based on the number of retweets we've received in our lifetime?

Or is there something more to life that we've somehow forgotten, something that's as simple as stepping away from your computer and devices and just enjoying life?

Tags: life

Our household recently picked up an interesting habit, one where people tell me they couldn't do it, or they just don't work that way.

Every weekend, we sit down and plan our dinner meals for the entire week.

That's it, that's the whole habit. Seems straight-forward, doesn't it? It's so incredibly dull, even very German.

Five weekdays, two weekend days. Sit down, thumb through cookbooks, find some recipes to cook, make a shopping list, and off you go.

As a family, we mostly cook meals for dinner rather than for lunch, and I found that one of us usually goes shop for groceries every day, trying to figure out what to make for dinner, spending some extra money for things we probably don't need along the way.

It feels a bit chaotic, but more than that, it causes stress and tends to make us spend more money every day when we go shopping. Little snack, little drink there, it adds up.

So we commit to the week upfront. It takes a bit of work to sit down and find nice recipes to cook, but that time is paid off by only having to go shopping once a week, twice if we do weekends and weekdays separately.

It's an amazing little habit change, and it does require a commitment to what you've planned to cook, but it reduces the stress levels throughout the entire following week.

Yet it seems so hard to commit to something like this, why is that?

Maybe we feel uncomfortable planning that far ahead, maybe the effort of even finding something to cook is throwing us off?

If you have a family and kids to feed, I'd suggest you try this out. Not just shopping for food once a week, but planning dinner meals for every single day in advance.

It gives an amazing peace of mind in return for a little focused time investment.

Beyond daily routines, even having specific routines can be very beneficial for your overall productivity. You could start by trying to plan your dinner meals for the entire week.

Tags: habits