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Don’t Always Believe the Science

Don’t Always Believe the Science

Science has given us some amazing inventions over the centuries. Personally I’m a big fan of the light bulb (thanks Thomas) and the Wright brothers were certainly having a good day when their flying machine finally took to the air at Kitty Hawk all those years ago. But I guess the scientific breakthrough at the very top of my list was created by that little-known inventor, designer, engineer and scientist… Ogg.

    Who would have guessed all those millennia ago when Ogg emerged from his cave to invent the wheel that not only would he make his and Mrs Ogg’s life a crap-load easier but all these years later my favourite toy (my motorbike) would be totally dependant on his neolithic creativity and invention.

    So thank you Ogg from the bottom of my high-octane heart.

    Science impacts on virtually every part of our lives. It is something we consider, negotiate and benefit from every day. It’s also something which misleads us and confuses us from time to time. Ask five experts one question about nutrition and your head might explode from the variety of answers. Ask ten conditioning coaches or exercise scientists one question about training and we might find you two days from now sitting in the corner sucking your thumb. Or visit ten medical experts with one condition and you’re likely to get numerous diagnoses and more prescriptions than you can poke a stick at.

    Part of the problem with some scientific ‘facts’ is that they aren’t facts at all; they are scientific theories.

    Every day somewhere in the world another scientific ‘fact’ bites the dust. It is exposed for the fraud that it is. I could give you a hundred examples of this but I don’t want to put you to sleep, so instead I’ll give you a few things to chew on which might be relevant and of interest to you.

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    1. Height/Weight Charts

    To say that a person should weigh a certain amount because they are so many inches tall is not only misleading but potentially dangerous. Stupid in fact. At best, these charts are vague indicators or guides of what may be a healthy weight range for some individuals. We have a rugby team here in Melbourne, Australia called the Storm. If you were to compare the weight of the individual players against the ‘scientific weight recommendations’ for their height you would discover that close to one hundred percent of the team would be classified as overweight or obese. And therefore all fall into the high health risk category. When in reality the only immediate health risk to the Storm boys is getting their heads ripped off by some unhappy neanderthal opposition players. According to ‘science’ I should weigh somewhere between about 12 kgs (26lbs) and 22 kgs (48.5lbs) less than I do right now. My body fat as I write this is 16% (healthy). If only I was seven feet tall… my weight would be perfect!

    2. BMI

      BMI stands for body mass index and it is a scientific formula used to classify people on a scale from underweight to obese. The equation is:

      Your weight in kilograms divided by your height (in metres) squared.

      Here’s my BMI equation

      91 kgs divided by (1.78m x 1.78m) = 28.72.

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      This result tells me that I am significantly overweight and borderline obese. Hmmm.

      This science doesn’t factor in how much muscle individuals have.

      Check this out:

      Subject one:
      Male
      Height 180cm: (5’11”)
      Weight 100 kgs: (220 lbs)
      Actual Body-fat: 12% (low)
      BMI classification: 30.9 = FAT!

      Subject two:
      Male
      Height: 180 cm (5’11”)
      Weight: 80 kgs (176 lbs)
      Actual Body-fat: 25% (high-ish)
      BMI classification: 24.7 = NORMAL!

      Scientific crap.

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      3. Girth Measurements

        The other day I was chatting with one of my trainers who asked me what my waist measurement was. She wanted to see how I rated on the scientific table which estimates my health risk (potential for disease) based on my waist measurement. According to the ‘science’, blokes with a waist measurement over 40 inches (101.6cm) are in trouble and girls with a waist measurement greater than 35 inches (88.9 cms) are at much higher risk also. Fortunately I’m a fair way under the danger zone but this science is flawed also. It’s vaguely indicative but by no means absolute as it doesn’t factor in the height of the individual. Surely a 40 inch waist on a guy who’s 5’4″ can’t be compared to a 40 inch waist on a guy who’s 6’7″? Well, apparently it can. And then we’ll call it a health risk assessment.

        Is waist measurement an indicator of potential health risk? Sometimes. For some people. Is it good to use a ‘set figure’ (in this case a 40 inch waist measurement) to evaluate the potential health risk for an entire population? Er… nope. Could a bloke have a 35 inch waist and be a higher risk than another bloke with a 40 inch waist? Of course.

        4. Recommended Calorie Intakes

        Dr. Bumnuts: “Okay, let’s see Mrs Smith… you’re 5’6″, you’re 42 years old, you currently weigh 70 kilos (154 lbs) and you have a sedentary job. Therefore you need 1,650 cals per day to maintain your current weight and 1,150 cals per day to drop down to 65 kilos (143 lbs) over the next ten weeks.”

        This almost sounds plausible. And if Mrs Smith expended the exact same amount of energy every day (1,650 cals worth of energy in this case), then the expert would be speaking the truth. But naturally our energy expenditure (how many cals we burn) can and does vary greatly from day to day. If Mrs Smith spends Saturday hiking, rock climbing and wrestling bears (as she does), she might need 4,000 calories just to break even for the day. But on Sunday as Mrs Smith and her sore muscles recline on the couch for the entire day, her energy needs will be drastically reduced – perhaps to as little as 1,200 calories. Same body – different needs. Bodies requirements vary from day to day which is why I always encourage people to learn to drive their own body rather than just following some generic one-approach-fits-all driver’s manual. The Point? Our energy needs (calorie requirements ) are not ‘set’ so consuming the same number of cals each day is not necessarily smart science.

        5. High carb, Low carb, No carb, My head hurts.

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          I’m not going to explore this debate in detail here but I will say that there are numerous books, studies and experts which (who) totally contradict each other on this subject. The interesting thing is that many of the conflicting theories on the matter are backed up by indisputable ‘scientific fact’. Sound scientific research. Sure. Sometimes scientists are compelled to find a way to support their hypothesis. If you know what I mean.

          6. Australia the Fattest Country.

          A couple of weeks ago here in Australia we were informed by the scientists that we are now the fattest country in the world. Here are two excerpts taken from a leading newspaper Melbourne Herald Sun:

          “AUSTRALIA is the world’s most overweight nation, ahead of the notoriously supersized Americans, according to a new study.”

          ” The report, released ahead of the federal government’s obesity inquiry, presents the results of height and weight checks carried out on 14,000 adult Australians nationwide in 2005.”

          So in a country of 21,000,000 people they tested 0.06 percent of the population which means that they didn’t test 99.94 percent of us! I have two questions:

          1. How do they know that the 0.06 percent is representative of the 99.94 that they didn’t test?

          2. Why would they use an assessment (height/weight chart) which is scientifically flawed?

          Science is an incredibly valuable and necessary part of our existence, survival and development here on the big blue ball and I’m passionate about it. I’m also passionate about not being mislead or misinformed. We can learn and benefit so much from so many clever people in the world of science but like anything that involves humans, it’s flawed.

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          Craig Harper

          Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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          Last Updated on November 19, 2019

          20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

          20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

          Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

          If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

          1. Create a Daily Plan

          Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

          2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

          Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

          3. Use a Calendar

          Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

          I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

          Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

          4. Use an Organizer

          An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

          These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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          5. Know Your Deadlines

          When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

          But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

          6. Learn to Say “No”

          Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

          Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

          7. Target to Be Early

          When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

          For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

          Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

          8. Time Box Your Activities

          This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

          You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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          9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

          Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

          10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

          Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

          You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

          11. Focus

          Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

          Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

          Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

          12. Block out Distractions

          What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

          I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

          When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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          Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

          13. Track Your Time Spent

          When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

          You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

          14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

          You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

          Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

          15. Prioritize

          Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

          Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

          16. Delegate

          If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

          When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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          17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

          For related work, batch them together.

          For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

          1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
          2. coaching
          3. workshop development
          4. business development
          5. administrative

          I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

          18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

          What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

          One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

          While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

          19. Cut off When You Need To

          The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

          Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

          20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

          Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

          More Time Management Techniques

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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