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Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach

Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach

For the past three weeks I have done my work, writing blog posts, managing social media accounts, drafting case studies, and executing email marketing campaigns, all while staying in a three-bedroom penthouse apartment overlooking the beach, kitesurfing in the afternoons when it gets windy, taking not a single vacation day from my job, and spending no more than a few hundred dollars. That’s a few hundred dollars – for the whole trip!

But this story isn’t just about the last three weeks. The fact is, my life is generally charmed beyond belief. I have a job that I enjoy at an amazing company, filled with fantastic people. I have a perfect three-year-old son, who is truly the best kid in the whole world. I live in a great house in a great neighborhood right outside DC. I travel often, I have free time for myself, and am surrounded by people I love.

But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, like many good stories about living the good life, this one starts with my getting fired.

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Step 1: Get Laid Off

Almost exactly two years ago, I was laid off from my job as Communications Director at an internationally renowned and venerated DC think tank. I mention its reputation only because that is really the only good thing I can say about it in terms of being a good place of employment. Organizational goals were disconnected from daily activities, the people were ensconced in various fiefdoms of closely guarded influence (with much of the hard work being churned out by unpaid interns), and it practiced death-by-meeting like an art form.

Several months before I was laid off, management called a general staff meeting to inform us that they were unsure whether they had the money to meet payroll that month. Consequently, if we wanted to cut back our hours or even not show up at all, we should feel free to do so, since, after all, no one knew if we would get paid.

As a result of this staff meeting I began to look for work wherever I could find it, which meant contacting an old colleague who had started a marketing consultancy. As it turns out, he had a re-branding launching that very week and would need someone to setup and manage new social media accounts. From there work grew and I found other clients, and by the time I was finally laid off from the think tank several months later, I had more than replaced my salary with consulting work.

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Step 2: Find One, Amazing Client

I loved all my clients, truly. But from the beginning, I had one client with which I gelled particularly well. I could see immediately that they had a good story to tell because they were doing innovative work in healthcare. Their leadership was actually forward-thinking, and they gave me largely free reign to beef up their social media marketing activities in support of clear overall business goals.

Step 3: Go Work For Them, If You Want

My work for them grew over time, until one day they raised the possibility of bringing me in-house. At that point they comprised roughly 50 percent of all my consulting work, and culturally it was a good fit.

My main condition was that I would continue to work on my own schedule, coming in to the office as needed for meetings, check-ins or events. For a metric-driven company more concerned with getting results than with having a lot of butts in their office chairs all day long, this wasn’t a problem. Besides, I had been getting stuff done for nearly two years as a consultant already. Thus was born my work-at-home job, with people I love, doing work that is important.

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Step 4: Learn How to Kitesurf

Why should you learn how to kitesurf? Besides the fact that being sped along the ocean on a wakeboard whilst flying a 12-meter kite and getting 10 feet of air jumping off the waves is absolute pure, unfettered joy, there is also the fact that kitesurfing is the perfect activity to do in-between work.

That is because you can generally only kitesurf one to three hours a day, after which you are totally spent. In the case of kitesurfing in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, it only gets windy for a few hours each afternoon anyway. The rest of the time there’s not much to do. That means my schedule in the Dominican Republic was nearly identical to my schedule at home. In both places I woke up and immediately started work, but instead of a mid-afternoon break to workout, I took a mid-afternoon break to kitesurf.

In the mean time, I spent my time with my laptop either out on my porch overlooking the ocean in my hammock, or at the bar restaurant on the beach next to the kitesurfing school. Both places had excellent Wi-Fi.

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Step 5: Combine Other Lifehack Strategies and Execute on Grand Plan

After what has come before, the following should be pretty standard operating procedure for Lifehack.org readers. These strategies have been written about extensively elsewhere, but it’s worth noting that there are several aspects of new media, the sharing economy, and general sociableness that combined to make this whole experience possible:

  • I rented out my place in DC for three weeks on Airbnb, meaning I got a deposit of $2,066 into my bank account just as I left for the Dominican Republic. Pretty sweet. This essentially paid for my plane ticket and for my room and kitesurf rental for three weeks at the amazing eXtreme Hotel. The only other money I’ve spent here is about $150/week on food: cheap and tasty.
  • I forwarded my cell phone to my Google Voice number, which rang straight through to my laptop any time someone called me. Likewise, I could make free calls via Google Voice back to work colleagues in the U.S. any time I needed. This allowed me to both launch a new website and coordinate troubleshooting of some complex technical challenges even while out of the country.
  • Dropbox plus WordPress plus Salesforce plus Google Docs. I can’t say enough about web-based software that is designed to enable remote collaboration. I can log in to post new blogs or add new leads or edit case studies as easily from the Dominican Republic as I can from my house or from the office.

Finally, there was one non-technology-related bonus. Shortly after getting to the hotel, I and another couple struck up a conversation with the hotel manager about the three-bedroom penthouse that overlooked the ocean on the top floor. She offered to put us up there at no extra cost, since the place wasn’t booked. Rest assured I will be writing her and the hotel a badass TripAdvisor review. This development was mostly luck, but it goes to show what being social and willing to take a risk with some people you don’t know can get you. They were great company, and the penthouse overlooking the ocean made the trip.

More by this author

The One Mind Shift To Rule Them All: Everything is a Deliverable Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach What Mark Twain Knew About Life (and Business, Love, Work, Travel) Why Selling Out is the Path to Fulfillment

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

More About Boosting Memory

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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