Fuel – Introducing July’s productivity experiment

5/7/2013 |

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Ooooh, we’re halfway there…

July means the middle of the year.  We’re halfway through my 2013 productivity experiments.  Last month’s “Flipping the 9-5” played around with the constraints of time and the hours needed to manage attention and energy.  This month I’m going to focus much more on the idea of brain and body as tool – and focus on whether physical condition influences productivity.

Of course, there are a hundred things you could test here and I only have one month, so I’m going to be focussing specifically on nutrition.  How does the food we eat affect productivity?  Does a better diet mean better productivity?

To do this, I’ve enlisted the help of a couple of friends of mine (more about them as we go through the month) who will be prescribing a particular diet for me, aimed at maximising my energy and attention.


…Livin on a prayer!

I will also spending 3 days in the middle of the month fasting.  The idea to do this came from my friend Mohammed at Productive Muslim.  I thought it would be a great way to understand – albeit only briefly – one of the key tenets of Islam.  And we’ll be recording a conversation between the two of us to discuss my experiences, especially for his Productive Muslim audience in the middle east and around the world.  We spent some time a couple of weeks ago running through how the fasting would work and he’s really hoping that I can bring some new productivity ideas to the discipline of fasting… in my three days!  No pressure there then, but I’m looking forward7 - fuel-03 to what I hope will be a memorable learning experience.


What’s my hypothesis?

The hypothesis part this month is pretty simple: our brain needs the right fuel.  Anyone who expects to regularly eat terrible food and maintain optimum energy is clearly in massive denial.  The fasting element came about really as a contrast to the rest of the month, but increasingly people are viewing fasting as a useful way to manage and regulate the body’s metabolism too, so I’m also curious to find out if this is my experience.

So July will be a clean-living month for me!  I’ll try to publish as many of the recipes as we go through, and I’d also love to hear your top tips for healthy diets (particularly  my big struggle, which I’m looking to address here, of healthy eating whilst on the move).


What are my hopes and fears?

I eat pretty well already, but I hope the month encourages me to review my regular diet and make improvements.  I also hope my fasting experience provides an interesting contrast.

My fears are simple things like giving up sugar in my tea.  I don’t drink coffee but I view tea as one of life’s true pleasures.  The thought of drinking tea without sugar, let alone shifting to fruit teas for a whole month fills me with dread.

My other fear is that I end up spending a lot of time preparing food!  I cook only a very small number of the meals I eat (as I’m on the move quite a lot) and whilst Brighton can be really great for healthy food on the move, when I’m elsewhere in the country it can be much harder.  So if I’m right that being uber-healthy means a lot more effort then I’m not looking forward to spending more time in the kitchen myself.

So let’s tuck in!


Like this? try this…

Graham’s 2013 productivity experiments 

How to eat like a ninja 



  1. Mohammed Faris

    Good luck Graham with the fast! (You’ll need it buddy :P). A little tip for you and your viewers who are interested in this experiment: It’s all about the intention of fasting, why you’re doing this and who you’re doing this for? As Muslims it’s pretty easy for us to come up with that intention as we have a spiritual/worship purpose of the fast and not having food/drink for up to 18 hours is quite manageable. So think of an intention for this action and you’ll find it manageable. Hope this helps!

  2. graham

    Thanks mate! My intention is learning and understanding – both about productivity and about life as a Muslim. should be pretty interesting!

  3. jessica

    very interesting! im really keen to hear how this goes! best of luck, and hoping the extra time spent in the kitchen doesn’t irk you too much! :)


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