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The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 3 – Idea Cafe and Ethical Coffee Chain

The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 3 – Idea Cafe and Ethical Coffee Chain
    Aah...coffee

    Our 12 Days of Giveaways promo continues with a great prize package combo that aims to start up your week with both organization and energy. Idea Cafe and Ethical Coffee Chain have given us quite the packages to offer one lucky Lifehack.org reader!

    But before we get to that, we had 10 Lifehack.org readers who won ToodleDo licenses from the second day of our 12 Days of Giveaways promo. We’ve left comments on the post highlighting our winners, as well as on our Facebook wall to indicate who won – check them out when you’ve got a moment.

    Now…on to today’s giveaway!

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    About Idea Cafe

    Idea Cafe is a great-looking shop and website that offers high quality paper products such as notebooks, notepads and sketchbooks – among other paper-based creativity and productivity tools. Here’s the reason behind Idea Cafe’s creation from its founder, Chris Bowler:

    “In this age of digital communication, smart phones, and touch computing, there is still a yearning for the simple. Despite the blood curdling pace at which technology inexorably advances, many people prefer to capture ideas and thoughts on an age old device — paper.”

    Idea Cafe has offered one of its beundles called The Espresso, which consists of the following:

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    • 1 Action Book
    • 1 Rhodia Classic 4 Colors notebook
    • 1 Large square Moleskine notebook

    This package is ideal for those who are either just getting into productivity or are already well into it and simply need a new set of tools to keep it up.

    About Ethical Coffee Chain

    I’ve just started using the services provided by Ethical Coffee Chain, and I’m not only drinking good – I’m feeling good while doing so.

    Ethical Coffee Chain helps you out by delivering coffee to your door, but also helps a Central American coffee farm out by giving them a chance at a better life in their homeland. But the folks behind ECC explain their story far better on the company’s website:

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    “In 2008, Adam King and Yoani Kuiper travelled to Nicaragua on a mission to find out the truth about the coffee industry. There they saw things they couldn’t understand. All for the sake of a few cents spared for our cup of coffee, they saw coffee worker families packed like animals in tiny stalls; preventable disease rampant because workers couldn’t afford the simplest of medicines; malnourished kids; poor sanitation; child labour; depression; addictions; and needless tragedy. They came back knowing that if they could buy farmers’ coffee directly, they could take all the profits wasted on middlemen and instead, both, give coffee workers a better future and coffee drinkers greater value. They knew that if only they could create a system to connect you to the people on these farms, you would feel the same way they do. It’s been a long, hard journey since then, but finally, with the help of many, it’s becoming reality.”

    The winner of today’s 12 Days of Giveaways will receive a 3-month subscription to Ethical Coffee Chain (the Occasional Drinker’s package – 1 lb per month), which, like all their subscriptions, includes a share of ownership in the company.

    How to Enter

    In order to enter to win this joint prize pack, you need to leave a comment below or on our Facebook fan page that answers the following:

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    “What is your drink of choice – coffee or otherwise – AND why?”

    Leaving a comment on both our Facebook fan page and here at Lifehack.org will get you 2 entries, so but you need to give us two items that you like the most – no copying and pasting!

    The Fine Print

    Employees of Idea Cafe, Ethical Coffee Chain and of Stepcase (including current independent contractors of both) are not eligible for this contest. The prize can only be shipped to addresses within the continental United States and Canada (in other words, Alaska and Hawaii don’t count), so keep that in mind when entering. The winning entry will be judged by the Stepcase Lifehack editing team and winners will be notified on the platform in which their winning entry was placed (either on the Lifehack.org Facebook wall or by email through our commenting system here the website). For those entering contest with a comment on our site, in order to be considered eligible, you MUST leave a contact email when leaving a comment (it’s the only way we’ll know how to contact you). Entries must be submitted by 10 am Eastern the following weekday and winners will be chosen by 12 pm Eastern time on the same day. The winner will be announced the same day on Lifehack.org, and will be notified beforehand.

    Good luck!

    (Photo credit: A Perfect White Cup from Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 17, 2018

    7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

    7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

    How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

    If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

    Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

    So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

    1. Meditate

    We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

    Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

    Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

    Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

    Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

    If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

    And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

    2. Get plenty of sleep

    If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

    If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

    How much sleep should you be getting?

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    Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

    Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

    Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

    Yes, there are.

    Try these three things:

    • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
    • Don’t eat too late
    • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

    Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

    However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

    3. Challenge your brain

    When was the last time you challenged your brain?

    I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

    To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

    Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

    There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

    • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

    If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

    Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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    4. Take more breaks

    When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

    At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

    However, I was wrong.

    Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

    Let me explain.

    Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

    Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

    It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

    It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

    What’s the answer?

    Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

    If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

    5. Learn a new skill

    I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

    “Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

    From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

    Let me give you an example of this:

    Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

    Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

    The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

    Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

    Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

    6. Start working out

    If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

    Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

    Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

    “But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

    Not a problem.

    A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

    Interested in getting started?

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    Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

    • Join a gym
    • Join a sports team
    • Buy a bike
    • Take up hiking
    • Dance to your favorite music

    7. Eat healthier foods

    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

    This applies to your brain too.

    The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

    Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

    Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

    Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

    • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
    • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
    • Nuts – improves memory
    • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
    • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

    Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

    Final thoughts

    I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

    You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

    But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

    Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

    Reference

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