What was that link again?

Reader Keith recently dropped me a line and said

Just listened to the audio version.  I enjoyed it.  Throughout the book and in the acknowledgements you mention several web links, but I was driving as I listened so could not jot them down.  Perhaps you can add a list of links to the website to help listeners like me?

What a superb idea. And pretty obvious too when I think about it. So, for Keith and all my other listeners out there here’s a list of every link mentioned in the book.

The facebook page

This book has a page on facebook where I post a daily musing and fans of the book comment on it. All good fun. You’ll find it at www.facebook.com/howtodoeverythingandbehappy (you probably could have guessed that).

If you’re more of a twitterer I tweet under the handle @doitallbehappy. The odd re-tweet would be most appreciated. You can follow me here: twitter.com/doitallbehappy.

The selective attention video

The ‘selective attention test’ mentioned in the section on focus is below. Press the play icon in the middle of the image, and concentrate carefully on the number of times the players in white pass the ball to each other.

You can find out more about this video, and the science behind it at here.


Webshots is a great piece of software that changes your PC’s wallpaper automatically. You can download it for free from http://www.webshots.com/page/apps?app=footer


Photobox is a great website that allows you to create all manner of items from your digital photos. Snapfish.co.uk is pretty good too. Other sites exist – post your favourites in the comments below.

How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim

My next book co-written with the fabulously slender Della Galton. Find out more here 

Folks mentioned in the acknowledgements

Jules my assistant and the balloon baboon, Author Wendy Steele, Alison the Proof FairyEllen for her fabulous cover design & artwork. Author Keris Stainton. Katja and all from Audible (.co.uk | .com), and Adam and team from Rushforth media.

My other website

You can find out more about me, my books, speaking engagements & workshops, at my other website – peterjonesauthor.com

If you think I’ve missed a link then drop me a line or post a comment below and I’ll update this page

FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #3 – Boxing Days if you’re a parent

Reader Jane dropped me a line:

“I think I’ve figured out something that may help in terms of ‘how Mums can do a boxing day’. You may need to relax the ‘rules’. The thing is, there is always so much to do around the house and for the kids/husband/etc.

“If I had planned a bit more beforehand (e.g. booked a massage, picked a film to go and see, arranged a friend to meet for lunch, booked a table to eat alone, etc) then I might have had more of a successful BD. However, because (the rules state) you’re not ‘allowed’ to think about what you’re doing in advance, I ended up doing a whole load of chores and things that needed doing around the house. Which was fine, but not really the rest a 36 week pregnant woman with a one year old needed!

“I suggest that childcare is arranged, even if it’s just for half a day with Grandparents, and then you allow Mums to book one thing to do (or plan one thing to do) outside of the house. This would remove the temptation to go ahead and get on with chores, etc.

“A Mum’s (and I’m sure a Dad’s!) lot is a busy one and there is, like I say, always so much to do that it’s hard to put oneself first, especially if you have that rare commodity of free time. The first thing that comes to mind is something along the lines of ‘thank goodness! Now I can get that big pile of ironing done, weed the garden, cook for the freezer, etc.”

My gut reaction to Jane’s email was to point out that there’s a huge difference between pre-planning (what you’re going to do on Boxing Day) and preparing (doing whatever’s necessary so that a Boxing Day is possible). Pre-planning is bad. Preparing on the other hand, is very very good. Necessary even.

However, hot on the heels of Jane’s email, readers Kirsty and Alison contacted me with very similar thoughts! It seems it’s just too darn difficult to be spontaneous on a Boxing Day if you’re a Mum – other stuff always gets in the way. Clearly I’m out of my depth here.

So I called in the Big Guns and emailed Keris Stainton –  author, journalist, fan of this book and (most importantly) Busy Mum of two. I put the Busy Mum vs Boxing Day conundrum to her, reserved several pages in the book for her words of wisdom, and waited. If anyone would know the answer it would be Keris. Why, she’d probably end up writing a blog post or an article about it. Fabulous!

Three weeks later (I told you she was busy) I got her  response.

She was, to use her own words ‘flummoxed’ – unable to see how being a busy parent is so different from being a busy anything else. She went on to say:

If the FIRST thing you think of when you get up on Boxing Day is ‘thank goodness – Now I can get that big pile of ironing done, weed the garden, cook for the freezer, etc.’ then, well, you REALLY need a Boxing Day!

If any of this rings true for you then let me just say this; “go for it”. And if ‘going for it’ means you need to have one thing pre-arranged, or you have to have a rule that says Boxing Day takes place Off-site, or you limit Boxing Day to the hours between dropping the kids off and picking them back up again, or Boxing Day is something you do with another Busy Parent – if that ‘fixes’ Boxing Day and makes it work for you – then you have my blessing! I am not going to stand in your way. I’m just pleased that you’re finally taking time out for yourself.

If you’re a parent and have any thoughts on the challenges of Boxing Day, feel free to share them in the comments box below or on the facebook page.

Rhymes with bucket

Keris Stainton – author, journalist, Mum, and all round fab-person – tells us about her ’40’ list, and why she plans to skip a few items.

I recently turned 40. Realising the big birthday was approaching, I decided to list 40 things that I wanted to achieve in my 40th year (or 41st or 39th or whatever it is, you know what I mean).

When I was a teenager I was obsessed with the ’20 Things to do Before You’re 20′ type lists you used to get in magazines and I’d have half-hearted stabs at them, but they’d invariably include something like ‘bungee jump’ that I haKeris-Staintonven’t the slightest interest in. I decided a bespoke list was the way to go.

I came up with probably ten items with no problem at all. Things like ‘Go back to New York’, ‘Make a family tree’, ‘Find a “signature” perfume’, ‘Milk a cow.’ Another ten were probably nostalgia-based: Visiting Jodrell Bank, Parkgate, Hilbre Island, all places I haven’t been since I was a child. A few more were food-focused: try bacon or cheese chocolate and oysters, make a really good cheesecake. And then I started to flounder. I put in a few admin items: read all the books on my TBR pile, catch up with online items, organise all my photos.

The final group could probably be called ‘things I’ve been thinking about for years’ – have a go on a Potter’s Wheel, get a Brazilian wax, learn to crochet, have a singing lesson.

At the end of the year, I’d achieved less than half the items on the list. But I was actually okay with that. I do plan to cross of plenty more as time and funds allows, but then there are a few others that I’m just going to skip. And that’s okay too.

A while ago I listened to a recording of Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington in conversation with one of my heroes Nora Ephron. Someone asked them if there was anything good about getting old and Arianna said that it frees you up to let things go. She said she’s always wanted to learn French, but now she’s in her sixties she knows it’s probably never going to happen… and that’s okay.

I’ve found that with quite a few of the things on my list. Do I really want to learn to crochet? Or is it just that I feel like I should have learned it? If I really wanted to learn wouldn’t I have done it by now?

Does the thought of learning to sing fill me with excitement in the same way that, say, going to New York does? No, it doesn’t. So why do it? Yes, twenty years ago I thought a singing lesson would be cool, but does that mean I still have to do it now I’m 40? Nope.

I’m with Arianna: realising you don’t need to do the things you always thought you needed – or even wanted – to do is freeing. So for me a ‘To Do’ list or a ‘Dream’ list or a ‘Bucket’ list, whatever you want to call it, has been a brilliant experience. It’s helped me focus on the things I really want to do and it’s also allowed me to strike off the things I probably won’t bother with.

I’m going to do one every year now. It’s the first thing on my list.

Keris is author of the books “Jessie ♥ NYC”, “Emma LA”  and “Della says: OMG!” – find out more at keris-stainton.com