Last year at this time, I launched a little experiment. I set aside the amount of time that I normally would spend taking or teaching a class–about 10 hours a week for 15 weeks–to see how much I could improve my overall fitness. The results were pretty gratifying–I dropped my BMI (the dreaded body mass index) by 50%, brought my resting heart rate into the 60’s, and reduced my the diastolic arterial pressure by 12 points or so. The experiment had two goals: getting in better shape and learning more how I could make changes in my own behavior when I needed (or wanted to).

The second of those goals was important to me. Spending an hour a day on the Arc Trainer can seem like an incredible waste of time–even when listening to some good podcasts. Looking at it as an experiment in my own “learning how to learn” put the effort squarely in the long tradition of adult educators like Allen Tough and his work on intentional change. That helps make the investment seem a little more meaningful.

This semester, I think I’m going to try a different experiment. I’ve been fascinated for some time by David Allen’s book Getting Things Done and the impact on so many in the geekosphere. I’ve played around the edges with some of the tools, but I’m wondering what would happen if I really focused for a semester on developing an integrated approach to the “art of stress-free productivity.” Stress-free? Wonder what impact that would have on the old diastolic.