Book Launch: Remember Everything You Want and Manage the Rest

Featured

Dear Friends,Remember Everything You Want and Manage the Rest

I am delighted to announce that my book – Remember Everything You Want and Manage the Rest – has been launched on Amazon Kindle.

UPDATE, Thursday, May 12: Remember Everything You Want and Manage the Rest (version 1.1) is available on Amazon. This is the time to read it!

What is this book is all about?

It is a no-nonsense guide for anyone who wishes to improve their memory and learning and acquire powerful techniques and tools to organize information from all kinds of sources.

It merges highly effective learning and memory improvement techniques with information and knowledge management to provide a complete solution for students, professionals, and life-long learners. The techniques are accompanied by easy-to-follow examples.

Memorizing Information is not enough

Many memory books claim, “You are only using 10% of your brain.” “Create a memory palace and multiply your brainpower.” Yes – mnemonic techniques work and are fascinating. You can use them to memorize a large number of facts or foreign language vocabulary fast and with confidence. They allow you to give a speech to the point completely from memory. Mnemonics are a real time saver, so we cover the most effective memory improvement techniques and accompany them with easy-to-follow examples.

But contrary to what some people might claim, you will forget a large part of this information after a relatively short time if you don’t use it. This is just how the brain works. You have to reinforce what you want to keep. Did you know that you have to spend about 50% of your learning time practicing recall to create a reliable long-term memory? And you have to do this over time.

We take an in-depth look at the most powerful memory technique of all – Reviewing by practicing recall using effective methods and modern computer software.

What’s more, information and knowledge management are equally important for modern learners:

These days an enormous amount of information is available on the Internet, in databases, and in huge libraries. A lot of this information will be outdated in a few years. You’d better not “store” everything in your brain. Remember, you need a considerable time to keep the information there. Most of it you shouldn’t even download to your computer or smartphone.

This book shows you how to extract the important information and organize what is relevant for your business, research, or studies, so that you can re-find it with ease while it is relevant. We introduce smart and mostly free computer applications allowing you to distill and manage information from all kinds of sources with the click of a few buttons.

In this book, you learn:

  • Highly effective memory improvement techniques: Learn and review faster, pass exams, memorize foreign language vocabulary with confidence, and improve your memory in all areas of your life.
  • Methods and mostly free computer software to distill, organize, and review information from all kinds of sources.
  • How to re-find your information with ease, build your personal digital library, and create bibliographies for your own writing by clicking only a few buttons.
  • How to take and manage notes in innovative ways, including techniques such as mind mapping and outlining.
  • How to improve your attention span and concentration and beat absentmindedness and stress.

So this is it.

If you like what you are reading, check out Remember Everything You Want and Manage the Rest on Amazon.

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read this book. In fact, I think it looks great in the Kindle App. Just download the Amazon Kindle App, which is available for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.

Thank you very much for all your support!

Have a great day,

Helmut Sachs

Atomic Habits by James Clear: Building Good Habits and Breaking Bad Ones

Atomic Habits by James Clear

My experience applying Atomic Habits

After I wake up, I sit up on the edge of my bed.

After sitting up, I drink water from the big bottle right in front of me.

After drinking water, I get up and make my bed.

After making my bed, I shave.

After shaving, I brew myself a cup of coffee…

This is the routine I follow every morning after waking up:  It is an autopilot sequence of behaviors—“a stack of habits”—where the completion of one action triggers the start of the next one.

This routine is extremely helpful and contributes massively to my happiness and productivity every day.

It also keeps me from going off the rails and into cyberspace:

You see, I have an iPad and a smartphone sitting on my nightstand.

In the past, I have always been tempted to use them after waking up: “What is the news?” “What is going on Twitter?” “Let’s check email real quick.” More often than not, I have given in to the temptation.

The next thing I noticed was that half an hour was gone, and I was running late.

Continue reading

Enjoy a Good Moment When You See It

Enjoy a good moment when you see it

Last night I had a marvelous sleep and so I was sitting there this morning, in a comfy arm chair, brimming with happiness and energy.

My iPad and my phone were right in front of me, screaming: check me out, take a look at what’s new.

Yet, I enjoyed the moment so much that I didn’t give in.

Instead, I just put on earmuffs and drank my morning coffee. Soon lots of ideas started surfacing, one of them: Enjoy a good moment when you see it. This was one of these moments.

I often have blissful mornings when I make the time for them. They knock on my door and when I open, they reward me with silence and creativity.

Continue reading

It’s a Noisy World Out There: Here is Help to Turn It Off

it-is-a-noisy-world-out-thereYou might have noticed that over time I have written a lot of posts that somehow relate to noise.

For example, I have covered how noise directly affects memory and performance for students and professionals and how it affects our sleep.

I have also covered how sleep and memory consolidation are directly related. More noise means less deep sleep. But deep sleep is paramount to reorganizing what you have learned during the day and connecting it with other memories.

Being constantly exposed to disruptive noise at night and you can kiss the fruits of your hard learning good bye, despite becoming prolific at and using the best memory techniques.

Incessant noise also increases stress hormone levels: another killer of memory and well-being.

Noise is insidious. Exposing yourself to constant levels of more than 85 decibels doesn’t hurt; it’s quite easy with good headphones. But, over time it can wreak havoc on your hearing.

When I was a teenager, I was completely oblivious to what the ringing in my ears after a night in the disco or in front of a speaker wall actually meant. After all, the ringing was always gone in the morning. I even built some enormous speakers for my living room. That was then.

Over the years, I have become fascinated with solving noise problems and using sound more consciously to help me learn better and become happier.

About three months ago, I decided I needed more space for this ongoing project.

It was time for a blog to shut out the noise, and so NoisyWorld.org came into being.

NoisyWorld focuses on:

  • Practical solutions for stopping obnoxious noise. This includes both general noise that impairs sleep, performance, and well-being and noise that is loud enough to damage hearing.
  • Using sound to improve sleep, performance and productivity, and happiness.

My flirtations with noise and insomnia

Continue reading

My Fourth Fast: Update on Five-Day Fasting for Health and Mental Performance

I broke the fast with almonds and cashews.

It is Saturday, June 30, 9:30 am. I just broke my fast with some cashew nuts and almonds.

This was my fourth fast, and it was a bit harder than the previous one. My hunger never completely subsided. I changed a few things that may have contributed to this experience. For more on this, please see below.

But – this fast also made me appreciate the value of food again.

I still went to coffee shops to do some reading and drink black coffee. When friends ordered food or a takeout, I felt they were so lucky they could have nice looking and clean food and eat it.

It doesn’t feel nice to be hungry and not to be able to eat when food is plenty.

Feeling hunger, I felt connected with people who don’t get enough to eat.

I had to go to bed without food for 5 nights. But I knew that after 5 days I was going to have great meals again.

I have the cash to go to the supermarket and buy stuff to my heart’s content.  I was already planning the great meals I was going to have.

Other people don’t have enough resources. They often go to bed hungry without knowing when they will have a satisfying meal.

They might only have a bowl of instant noodles with some cheap oil and lots of flavor enhancers. Not too bad if eaten once in a while, but while the noodles are high on carbs, they are low on protein and contain almost no nutrients.

But then, a bag only costs 50 cents. Mind you, the almonds and cashew nuts I broke my fast with cost more than that.

I sometimes eat these noodles too, because they taste good. Or a cheap fried rice dish. But then I remind myself that apart from energy there isn’t much in there and go and get some real food.

It might be a roast with potatoes and nicely grilled vegetables. Or I might go for Sashimi or Oysters.

Some people only have a dollar a day to spend on food. If they have children, the food goes to the kids first.

Today I pity them. Sometimes, I forget.

I am a lucky bastard to have a credit card and a bank account with money to buy nutritious food.

Giving someone good food to eat is sometimes better than money. The person gets to taste the happiness that comes with eating a hearty meal. The food pulls them right out of their hunger and feeling of dissatisfaction.

Why do I fast?

Continue reading

Using a Photo Light Box for Taking Product Photos for My Blog: A Great Time Saver

This post is for you if you want to take photos of small-to-medium-sized objects with a pure white background for your blog, research paper, shopping site, or book with no fuss.
Photo light box setup

Taking photos against a white backdrop and with minimal shadows is difficult—that’s what I thought before I had a light box.

I am not a proficient photographer by any stretch: I have a neat little Canon Powershot S110 with a zoom lens, and I have a couple of smartphones.

In the past, when taking pictures of smaller items for my blog, I just used a table, white cardboard or a white towel, and daylight.

At some point, a friend asked whether I could help her take pictures of two products for her shop. They needed to be on a white background.

I was surprised how difficult this actually was—obtaining a completely white background. It took me a full day to get acceptable photos for two items.

This got me thinking:

I wanted to use more and better-looking photos on this blog, but I didn’t want to spend hours for every single image. I also wanted to take photos independent of the time of the day.

After some research, I got myself a photo light box (aka light tent) with integrated LED lighting and a small, but precise tripod.

This light box has been one of my favorite and most productivity-enhancing purchases in the last 12 months. Continue reading

My Experience with Fasting for Metabolic Health, Mental Performance and Weight Loss

Fasting for Metabolic Health, Mental Performance, and Weight Loss

During the last couple of weeks, my mind wasn’t as fluid as it used to be. Reading, writing, analyzing, whatever I did, I tired much easier.

Also, about three hours after each meal, I felt a dip in energy, which I only slowly recovered from until the next meal. I have had this before – and I interpret it as a sign that my body has a hard time changing from feeding to fasting.

It appeared to me that as soon as most of the energy from eating was used, stored in the liver, or stored as fat, I ran low on energy.

What’s more, my weight was slowly increasing, my sleep was deteriorating, and I was getting digestive problems.

I was concerned that my fatigue might be due to increasing insulin resistance

I had been feasting excessively, drinking too many beers, and maintaining an irregular sleep schedule. As a result of all this, I suspect I was becoming increasingly insulin resistant. My blood sugar values were still OK, but I clearly wasn’t doing too well.

In a nutshell, my metabolism wasn’t running smoothly, I tired easily, abdominal fat was accumulating, and I was having a hard time burning fat (as indicated by my increasing body weight).

As I mentioned, I have had this before.

I resorted to the tool that had helped me last time to do a reset: Fasting.

I wanted to press that reset button again, so I committed to a 5-day fast. At the end, I made it a 6.5-day fast. Continue reading

Don’t Be a Headless Chicken: 8 Tips for More Happiness and Productivity

regain-your-head-for-more-productivity-and-happiness

As soon as the headless chicken wakes up, it starts running in circles. It becomes frantically active, checks its mail, and feels the urge to do something. Anything that can relieve the stress and the worries will do.

While handling the phone, it opens the pantry to refill the coffee maker. Too bad, there is no more ground coffee left. Well, instant coffee will do for now.

“Shit, it put the coffee in the kettle instead of the cup…”

The chicken has no time; it wants to do everything at once.

And so it forgets some of its papers on the nightstand and runs back and forth and all around the house to fetch everything for the office.

It truly has lost its head.

Fortunately, the drive to the office is without any major incident. While still at the wheel, the chicken’s head is already at the morning meeting.

It doesn’t see anything to its left or right.  Neither beauty nor danger! Had a little chick suddenly run out from behind the parking cars, it would have been flat!

In fact, a little bit earlier, there was a little chick.

Luckily, by the time the headless chicken drove by, the little chick had already safely crossed the street. An elderly couple saw it early and stopped to allow the chick to cross safely.

The headless chicken didn’t know anything about this though when it angrily flashed its headlights at the slow moving car in front of it – the car of the elderly couple that had just spared the headless chicken a nightmare.

What does this have to do with me?

I have been a headless chicken at some point in my life. Sometimes I still am, I am afraid.

But now I have more experience and strategies to re-find my head in most situations. I am still learning, mind you.

In this post, I want to share with you how we often lose our head in the craziness of our busy mind, and eight simple techniques that help me to stay happy and productive.

If even one of them helps you to get back your peace of mind and cruise through the day, this post has served its purpose.

How the chicken lost its head

At the root of our frantic activity are worries that we are going to run out of time or money and the realization that we have no control over this world.

We feel we have to do something, anything to get back in control and on top of things.

Here are some common causes for our headless-ness: Continue reading

Using Your Fitbit as a Pomodoro Timer or with a Smartphone Productivity App

Using your fitbit as a pomodoro timer or together with a smartphone productivity timer

Working in intervals of 20 to 40 minutes (so-called timeboxes) interspersed with 5-minute breaks is an excellent way to increase productivity, overcome procrastination, and do something for your health at the same time. In an earlier post I have outlined some ideas on how to implement time boxing.

In the 1980s, Francesco Cirillo devised the Pomodoro Technique, a complete time management system based on the concept of timeboxing. According to him, the optimal length of a timebox is 25 minutes. He called this 25-minute interval a pomodoro. Cirillo’s technique has spawned a variety of productivity apps and timers. I’ll introduce you to one cool app below.

I have used timeboxing more or less for several years, but have also varied the work period depending on the task at hand.

If a task is very difficult or boring, starting out with only 15 minutes is fine, if that helps you to get started and avoid checking your phone. I can always do 15 minutes.

For writing, I much prefer 45 minutes of even an hour.

Recently, I got myself a Fitbit Charge 2 fitness tracker. I bought it to encourage me to move more during the day and track my sleep during the night.  It also continuously tracks my heart rate and automatically recognizes and records different exercises. For example, it detects and records when I am walking, running, or using a cross trainer or treadmill and supplies stats such as duration, calories burnt, heart rate graphs…

I have come to like my Fitbit a lot – and it can help with time boxing / pomodoros as well. Continue reading

Unlock Your Problem Solving Powers and Squash Your Worries through Writing

How to solve problems and dispel worries through freewriting.Coming up with your own solutions before checking up on Google or with experts can vastly improve your results, dispel worries, and increase your confidence in your own creative powers.

By relying on your own knowledge reservoir, your own subconscious mind, you might dig out nuggets no one else has found.

If you are lucky, you get to explore areas of the solution space (the set of all possible solutions) no one has looked at. Everyone else might have sniffed around in just one corner.1

Whether you are looking for a solution to a problem or want to write an article or blog post, I suggest you look inside yourself before you check up on solutions on the Internet.

I would go so far as to say, it is often (not always) best to not read anything before you have not described the challenge in writing and written about it yourself.

If you want to get your head around something, just start writing. That way, your writing comes from you and isn’t yet clouded by the most prominent public opinion or scientific expertise. Empty everything out.

The Road most Traveled

Many people, when trying to solve a problem, go right to Google and ask “How can I do such and such…” Continue reading

How to Use Light Therapy to Change Your Internal Clock and Sleep Better

Use carefully timed light therapy to optimize your sleep

Do you feel very sleepy at 9 pm but want to stay up until 11?

Are you in bed at 11, yet can’t fall asleep for another hour?

Perhaps you have traveled across several times zones and now, even several days later, you feel sluggish and jet lagged.

All of the above are signs that your habits and desires and your biological clock are out of sync. And for most people the clock can’t be forced into sleep mode like an on-off switch.

Carefully timed light therapy, that is, exposure to blue, blue-green, or blue-enriched white light either in the evening or in the morning can be a fast and elegant way to set your clock to align with your lifestyle, sleep better, and even overcome serious insomnia.

My motivation for exploring light therapy for sleep

I often alternate between living in a small town for a few weeks and staying in a large bustling city. In the country side, folks are usually in bed by 9 pm; there is little else to do in the evening.

Quite quickly, I settle into a routing of having dinner, then watching TV for an hour or so – basically until I feel sleepy, which is usually pretty soon. So by 9 or 10 I am in bed and dozing off. I believe I have always been more of a lark, a morning person who tends to go to bed early and rises early. In fact, as I get older I become even more of an early riser.

This doesn’t suit me well when I am in the city though.

If I were to go to bed too early, noise would likely prevent me from falling asleep, and from hanging out with friends and drinking a few beers at night. Naturally my beer consumption also goes up when I am around town.

While in town, I would much rather go to bed at around 11:30 pm and maybe wake up at 7 or even 8. Being among other people and exposed to lots of light, I usually manage to stay up until 12 am and then go home and fall asleep quickly.

Unfortunately, I wake up at 4:30 or 5 am.

This would be fine when going to bed and 9 or 10, but with my later bed time I only get about 5 hours of sleep: a perfect recipe for feeling low on energy and sleep deprived.

It takes me quite a few days or even weeks to nudge myself into waking up later.

For many years, researchers at the sleep lab of Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia have been researching the use of bright light therapy and blue-green light to help people optimize their sleep and overcome insomnia.

They were initially focusing on people with delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD), also known as delayed sleep phase syndrome and advanced sleep phase disorder (ASPD), aka advanced sleep phase syndrome.

Now they are also applying their research to help frequent travelers overcome jet lag and shift workers adjust to a markedly different sleep-wake schedule.

In a way, you could even consider party people as shift workers.

Owls and larks and everyone in between

Continue reading