Why I’m Learning How To Learn

Taken by “Anna Davis 773” on Flickr


I had come back from a trip to Spain and was wondering why I was back in the grey Netherlands when I meet a friend I hadn´t seen for a long time. She told me that she was now location independent and just got back from Bali and was going to Alicante. Wherever she had internet and her laptop she could work.

That triggered me to go back and learn new skills so I also could become a digital nomad and that is why I´m taking this course. But I never had to study when I was in school, I was fortunate in many ways that I picked up things easily just by reading and attending classes. However now I´m studying by myself things that I haven´t done before and I need to “Learn how to learn” and that is why I´m taking the Coursera course for that.

I´m focusing on taking my skills of communications, marketing and sales to the online world. So I need to systematically figure out what are the main things to learn, prioritize and tick of one by one, and put what I learn into action. Because if I don´t put what I learn into action I will forget, as we learned in this course. And also what use is it to me and the world if I know something and don´t use it.

There are luckily plenty of free courses and information how to study available, but its also quite overwhelming. It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant and that had lead to my analysis paralysis. My biggest challenge is that I´m used to things coming natural and easy and doing anything that I like to do as long as I find it interesting. But like Dr. Terrence Sejnowski mentioned in his interview that is not enough to be smart but you have to have passion and perseverance.

What I´m going to have to do to equip myself for this new career path is learning how to create disciplined routines that support me reaching my goals. I´m already highly creative and knowledgeable and that has lead to me being invited to be part of many brainstorming groups and think tanks for companies and organisations, but I know that ideas are a dime a dozen and the fortune is in the follow-through. Taking ideas from conception to completion and hopefully even bringing them to the point that they can stand by themselves while I go and start other ones is what I consider to be a lasting legacy.

So far in my quest for mastery of my mind I have learned a few tricks that I think will benefit me.

  • Use the “Nothing Alternative” where I give myself the option to work on the task that I dread doing, or Nothing. I can stare into space or just think but I´m not allowed to do anything…except work on what I´m reluctant to do. And the pain of doing nothing is greater than the pain that Dr. Barbara Oakleysaid that our brain is trying to help us avoid when it encourages us to procrastinate. And like she said, the pain disappears when we start doing the dreaded task.
  • I have used the “Pomodoro technique” before but it takes me some time to get into a “Flow state” so I follow the “Ultradian rhythm“and work on something for 90 min because the first few min are simply about getting into the zone. But I agree with Dr. Barbara that I need to reward myself when I´m done with my session with a walk or something to get.

I for example have a timer that turns off the internet at 11 at night so we aren´t tempted to stay awake. But learning here about that it´s good to go over what you want your brain to work on during your sleep so I´m going to change the timer to 10 and review my day for things that I can improve and go over the following day so my brain can prep for it.

I never went to the gym so I ended up taking a side job as a bicycle delivery currier so I´m going out a few hours a week exercising, no matter the weather…and I´m getting paid for it.

And we never have anything unhealthy in the house so when I have a “Snack Attack” there isn´t anything except a carrot or other healthy things for me to snack on. It has helped me reaching the 800gr of fruits and vegetables that we are encouraged to eat everyday to keep our health, and brain, in tip top shape.

So I´m working on “Learning how to learn” but I´m open to all suggestions and support that I can get. Its great to see that there are other people that also want to take their learning to the next level and I´m looking forward to get to know you.


Nothing Alternative in Roy Baumeister and John Tierney’s (2011) book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,  Penguin Press. One of the world’s most esteemed and influential psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister, teams with New York Times science writer John Tierney to reveal the secrets of self-control and how to master it

Ultradian Rhythms in Prolonged Human Performance. Army Research  Lavie, Peretz ; Zomer, Jacob ; Gopher, Daniel http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA296199“Abstract : The recent wave of interest in rhythms in human behavior is erroneously attributed to the recent developments in the study of biological rhythms. In a recent historical review of the field of behavioral rhythmic research lavie(1980) uncovered several independent roots of research unrelated to questions regarding the nature and functions of biological rhythms. One of those roots was the rather naive ambition of educational psychologists to schedule school hours according with the optimal times for cognitive functioning such as mathematics, reading, etc, on the one hand, and activities requiring psychomotor skills, on the other. This research which attracted quite a number of investigators around the turn of the century, died away around the mid 1920’s. Recently it has been revived by the renewed interest in biological rhythms, sleep rhythms, and their interaction with behavior. The notion of an optimal schedule of human behavior is indeed an attractive one. In nature, optimal scheduling and synchronization of different behaviors with the geophysical environment is for many species a crucial survival issue. Displaying courting behavior at the wrong times of the year is dangerously maladaptive, while synchronization of courting and mating behavior with suitable environmental conditions ensures offspring survival.”

Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi “In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.”



Making a difference, everyday

I remember Jim Martin pointing out in his book The Just Church that evil is patient, they know that we are only outraged for a while and then we move on because of our “Shiny Object Syndrome”.
Boycotting for one day is exactly that, and often when we look at other organisations attempts to organize days like that you notice that people actually just buy more the day before and after the boycott day so they never experience withdrawal symptoms.
What I need to do is, like a drug users, get over my addictions of these good for nothing products and systematically eradicate them from our lives and embrace a new found freedom and lifestyle.
And yes I´m struggling myself, I´m trying to quit and actually its through that this struggle that I´m really noticing how crazy addictive many of these products are even though they aren´t good for the environment or my health.
I´m sticking to this though because the fact is that I vote every day, with my resources of Time, Talent and Treasure (money). How I invest or spend or waste these resources shows the world how I really feel about the world. Do I say I want change? Well am I willing to change? How much am I willing to change? Am I willing to change when its inconvenient? How about when it hurts?
Its easy to be a slackervist but I have been a slackervist for to long and want to show myself and others that I´m willing to actually do what it takes to make a difference in this world…even when it hurts. Because there are other people that are hurting way more then me and they deserve a chance.

Samen Zorg Regelen – Lets Create Care Together

I’m thankful that I have the chance to participate in events like I do because its you often meet people that are pushing the human race forward. And this Friday I got a chance to attend the “Samen Zorg Regelen” (Lets Create Care Together) where I meet people working on healthcare initiatives that are coming from different backgrounds and working in different sectors. And that is where I believe you get innovation. Because its hard to see things from a different viewpoint than your own. (One of the reasons why I’m a fan of traveling and open borders).


Karsten Klein was as usual at the event
I thought it was great to see an “mature” audience engaging in the discussions about E-Health and asking critical questions. And great to see the people working in the field taking the time to patiently explain things to them.
Representing the IZI healthcare team


Samen Zorg Regelen
To see more pictures from the event click here 


Holidays, Hamilton and setting up 2017 to be the best year yet.

Just got back to civilization, were 3 weeks in USA for Thanksgiving 😉 I added a few kg and I’m detoxing after overdosing on all that food…but man its cold here. And if you think its strange that a guy from Iceland is complaining about being cold I always highlight that I have never been as cold as when I moved to the Netherlands.:P However since we are going to India for 3 weeks after Christmas I think I’ll survive. Just take things once day at a time.

I want to acknowledge that I’m aware that I always tell people never to share online if they are aren’t home so they won’t make things easy for burgles however since we practice “Essential Minimalism” I’m sure that our home will be quite disappointing for people to try to rob, unless they are into stealing books and I’m also streamlining that and going digital so that won’t be an issue for us either. I’m doing 30 min of digitizing paper per day…we will see when that project will be done with 😉

What I am doing though regarding security for traveling I do recommend this LastPass blog. I’m going trough all my passwords right now to update then and deconnect my accounts to prevent things going wrong if my digital devices are stolen.

On another subject there is though the small problem that Christmas in the Netherlands is horribly boring. They don’t really celebrate it and don’t have real snow so that just depressing :S but its then up to me to fix that 😉 Just the tough thing is that I get homesick for the best food in the world. What food may that be? Icelandic food of course! Anyone here that is up for creating something epic together?

Also did any of you get selected for the Impact City? Our ideas didn’t…but that is not stopping me. I have been listening to “Hamilton the musical” non-stop (well not non-stop because I’m listening to classical music right now but you get the picture) but the point is that I’m super pumped up to “not going to throw away my shot” and to start standing up for injustice no matter what the consequences. Do or die 🙂

“I picked up a pen, I write my own deliverance” Alexander Hamilton from the Musical Hamilton (BTW I don’t own the picture)


And that brings me to the main point of my rant today. The song”Hurricane” inspired me to “pick up a pen and write my own deliverance”. I have already mentioned the frustrations I have had with the current political and economic system because I truly believe that “We can do better than this” so I’m going to “write my way out”. I can’t expect people to understand if they haven’t been told. I should not be so judgmental because once I didn’t know many of the things I have been so fortunate to get to know. And not everyone has the luxury of the time I have for research.

So if it is to be its up to me. I can’t expect others to do things that I find uncomfortable. I don’t like conflict but there are other people that don’t like to go to bed hungry or worried or scarred. My discomfort is nothing compared to that so many are suffering right now. And “Although no one can to everything, everyone can do something” and incremental improvements beat no improvements…and in the meantime I can work on things that are real paradigm shifts. Looking forward to telling you all about the Impact City projects we are working on.

Until then “history has its eyes on you”, “what side of history are you going to be”?


4th place official ESNC Label that indicates you as a finalist of the European Satellite Navigation Competition 2016

We just got the news that we are in the 4th place of the European Satellite Navigation Competition 2016. Its a bit disappointing because when I was with Linguistadores we won but its still good since 400 ideas were sent in.


On 25 October, the GNSS community met in Madrid at the festive Awards Ceremony to celebrate this year’s most outstanding commercial space applications based on satellite navigation. Have a look at this year’s results here and impressions from the Awards here.

We are very happy to let you know that you made the 4th place in the Netherlands Challenge with your idea “Starsigner “Look up, make your mark in the universe” out of remarkable number of more than 400 submissions that we received from more than 40 different countries. It proofs that your idea is worth to be honoured and we sincerely congratulate on this success! We therefore would like to provide you with an official ESNC Label that indicates you as a finalist of the European Satellite Navigation Competition 2016. You are very welcome to use it for your own marketing purposes. 

I would like to encourage you to keep on working on your idea. I wish you all the best for your project and would be delighted to welcome you again to the ESNC 2017. It would also be great if you could keep us posted about the development of your idea. We are involved in several events all over Europe such as the European Space Solutions as well as with the European Commission who are always keen on good examples and success stories how to use satellite navigation. And we are, of course, always pleased to support our participants.

Success and all the best for the future!

Best regards from the ESNC team,

Now I just hope my other proposal does better in the Impact City competition. Fingers Crossed, wish me luck 😉

Getting into the Zone -Living Page to collect Tips and Tricks for getting work done

I have ADD.

Its different how it manifests in different people but for me its often resulting in endless browser windows and doing things really well that I find interesting and loosing myself down the rabbit hole. And on top of my ADD I also have the gift that I’m really interested in just about everything…except sports I have learned, as my body was not built for them. (Will write an article later how we changed that) And to make it event more fun I’m a perfectionist at heart and I expect nothing short of people swooning when I present them my work or I think it was a waste of time. Making an very “interesting mix”. I could very much relate to the TED Talk from Tim Urban about the monkey being in control of the ship.

So here are my tricks to get myself into the zone.

Its all about “setting myself up for success” and eliminating stumbling blocks. They help me and I’m looking forward to hear if they help you or if you have your own tweaks that I could try to use.

Let people know your turning on Hyper Focus Mode

Set up your phone to “do not disturb mode”, let people know on Slack how long your going to be in Hyper Focus and if your going into an “batch” you might even want to set up an email auto re

Libraries, sometimes the silence is deafening

I use headphones!

Its to help me disconnect from outside distractions but its also a sign to people that I’m in the zone and should not be disturbed. So I recommend that you let people know about that and also don’t use them all the time or people will just expect that your always with them so they have not choice expect to interrupt.

I learned that using gaming music helps or movie scores helps.

Right now as I’m writing this I’m using the Final Fantasy Piano by Yusuf Afgan playlist. And as much as I love trying new things I want to stress that novelty is not what I’m looking for in the music, in fact often it can be best to find 3 songs and loop them. That way you don’t even notice the music after a while and your brain bandwidth increases.

Talking about sounds that you don’t notice.

White noise generators can be amazing and you can download free apps on Android and IOS phones but I don’t know about Nokia or BlackBerries. Feel free to let us know if you have one of those.

The New Smoking

I have an confession. I have been real self righteous against people that smoke. In my mind I associated them with being ignorant,  self absorbed, environmentally unfriendly and not taking care of their health. And then I learned that many studies show the adverse effects of sitting for extended periods can be in some ways also have serious health consequences and that you can’t make up for it by going to the gym. In fact the cigarette break has an unexpected benefit that people actually stand up and think about something else as well so its refreshes the mind and the body.

And now I have stated smoking? Of course not!!! But I recognized that there was something very beneficial to those breaks so I started by setting up an alarm going off every 40 min and then 2 min later so I can stretch during that time. However that is just a guaranteed way to annoy everyone around you 😉 So my “trick” is drinking hot water with ginger and cinnamon, causing me to having to refill and drain 😛 on a regular basis. And when I stand up I stretch for 2 min to get the blood flowing.

Time to get into the zone

Now here is where I want to ask you something. I have heard various numbers about how long it takes to get into the zone and some people say that it takes at least 15 min and other people say it takes even longer.  I’m wondering if my breaks are cutting into my Zone Time so I’m wondering about your experience and if you have any more tips and tricks that work well for you.

Looking forward to hear from you and I hope you have a seriously brilliant day!

Finding Zen in the Japanese Garden of The Hague

The Japanese garden of The Hague

We have a tradition of going every spring and fall to visit the Japanese garden of The Hague to take pictures and catch with our friends. Its one of my favorite things to do every year and I’m pretty sure that part of the charm is that its only open a few weeks a year so it feels exclusive…well most of the time 😛 Today not so much.

It was the perfect weather, people walking in t-shirts and I even thought to myself that I could even sit and sunbathe 😛 But that also lead to floods of people being there. I almost felt like I was in Disney World. And another side affect of the nice weather was that the fall colors where not there.

It was easy to feel boxed in and disappointed because of the long time it took to wait in line to take pictures…but some some strange reason I was happy. And for people that know me that is a strange feeling 😉

I easily get frustrated because I want things to go according to plan and you should see me if my computer lags just a few seconds. I this strange feeling of zen I contribute to the fact that we were together with awesome people and that was the most important thing after all.

What are we thankful for today?

What did we see that was beautiful today?

What did we do that was beautiful today?

Starting over – Rant

5524669257_c5eefe7205_oOnce again I find myself starting over.

I’m thankful for the fact that I don’t have to worry about money, health, safety but I can honestly say that I don’t like this feeling since I feel that I should have had this figured out by now. However I’m not even sure what “it” is that that I should have figured out.

I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. I have an amazing network and people that love me. I have so many opportunities. And yet I feel like I’m waiting for my life to start. I relate very much to what Barry Schwartz covers in his book “The Paradox of Choice” http://amzn.to/2dN6aRD that when you can do anything you are always worried that you’ll end up choosing the wrong thing so its tempting to choose nothing.

And I know that its not like I haven’t done many things. I travel a lot, I work on many interesting projects, I love going out to dinner…but it more like drifting from one thing to the other.

But now I feel like to have come to a real turning point in my life. I was supposed to start a new project this fall and but I had an very disappointing end to that dream. And I think that was good because the danger is to be in a place where everything is very comfortable because that does not require much thinking. But this required me to ask myself “how do I want my life to look like”. I had come back from a nice trip to Spain and when I had landed the weather was gray and dull here in the Netherlands and that made me think “why did I come back in the fall? Why am I not creating a life where I can be location independent and work where the weather is nice?”

So now I’m studying how that will work out and I invite the world to follow up on me by making this public. And I got the go ahead from my family as well. In many ways I think that I have been hiding behind the fact that since they have not been super interested then I’m not going to do anything about this…BUT when I did talk about it I was told “You know that we are ok with this idea. You just just can’t expect us to drop everything and turn into cheerleaders. You just have to do what you have to do to prove that this can work, and then, and only then, will we follow you. Wherever that will be.”

Wow, and now I’m without excuses. No one is holding me back. No one, except me. So lets get started.



Startup Iceland ticket price will rise in April, are you going to pay more or less?

I love how Siggi makes the case that buying tickets to Startup Iceland is the second step towards defeating procrastination 😉

Startup Iceland

FYI – the early-bird ticket sale (lower price tickets) will end in only 3 days, the end of March 2015.

Are you going to lose out?

This is your LAST CHANCE to buy a ticket to the Startup Iceland 2015 Conference for a lower price.

If you want to read more about the conference, who’s speaking and why you should attend, then read more about the Startup Iceland 2015 conference by clicking here.

But if you just want to buy the ticket immediately, then click here to buy a ticket and reserve your seat to Startup Iceland 2015.

“I love deadlines…”

It amazes me how much Icelandic people like to live on the edge of deadlines .. and I am no exception.

I’m Icelandic and sometimes I sign up only at the last moment .. or enter the store 2 minutes before it closes.

But why do we do this time…

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Groasis Waterboxx has amazing results in Morocco

Yes, we can change the world for the better! Thanks for the Waterboxx! Keep up the good work Groasis!!!


Photo credit: Groasis

Groasis Waterboxx planted in October 2011

Sahara Roots

Tree planting project in “Le Petit Prince” in the Sahara desert of Morocco

Sahara Roots uses the Groasis Waterboxx to plant native trees. Despite the harsh conditions the plantings are very successful. Sahara Roots wants to help create awareness about the importance of maintaining the environment. The activities are focussed on planting trees, assisting in clean-up
campaigns and in stimulating the children.

In October 2010 the first Groasis Waterboxxes arrived in the Sahara in Morocco. Around Bivouac Le Petit Prince they started planting using this technique together with the local people.

The area has been split up in 4 different planting sites. The entrance to Bivouac Le Petit Prince camp, an area behind the restaurant tent, the back of the Le Petit Prince Camp and the Nebkah area. The start of the planting on this last site just started…

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