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SymphonicDan

[SymphonicDan] the Runaway Professor [Level 25]

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I'm hopefully back! And nice to see everything has continued pretty nicely here since June :)

 

Some of you know me - introduction in the spoiler:

 

Spoiler

I'm a 28-year-old guy from the UK, currently travelling. My story since starting at NF is:

 

  • Jan 2014: joined the forums and planned to learn backflips outdoors by February. Hahaha that did not happen, but gymnastics and weightlifting happened lots
  • Jul 2014: reached 10 seconds for handstands and recorded my progress [video]
  • Oct 2014: bought gymnastics rings and went through a phase of training lots with these
  • Aug 2015: reached so far my peak in gymnastics and made a compilation [video] in the Summer
  • Aug 2015: moved house and got lazy :( Challenged with the Warriors and I don't think I even made it to a gym haha
  • Jan 2016: decided that I needed more excitement and that in 2016 I was going to get it
  • Aug 2016: quit my job and backpacked around Slovenia and Eastern Europe
  • Sep 2016: competed in the Mental Calculation World Cup in Germany
  • Oct 2016: studied Spanish in a language school in Valencia
  • Nov 2016: competed at Memoriad in Las Vegas. Flew to Nicaragua to volunteer as a volcano tour guide at QuetzalTrekkers for 3 months, taking tourists camping and volcano boarding
  • Feb 2017: backpacked around Nicaragua and Guatemala - both really nice destinations
  • May 2017: spent a month in Barcelona learning more Latin dancing and learning to how to create websites - currently working on HyperBirthday
  • Jul 2017: volunteered as an Engineering tutor in a Summer School in Oxford
  • Aug 2017: competed in the Mind Sports Olympiad in London
  • Sep 2017: 13-day transatlantic cruise with Nomad Cruise to Panama, with talks and workshops on everything from marketing to acro-yoga, and from hypnotism to software development
  • Oct 2017: backpacking in Panama and Costa Rica... hitch-hiking, dolphins, uninhabited jungle islands and 2-kilometre ziplines...

  • Nov-Dec 2017: volunteering as tour guide (again) in Nicaragua

  • Jan-Apr 2018: backpacking in Colombia... cycling in deserts, hiking on the altiplano, scuba diving and whitewater rafting...

  • Feb 2018: volunteering as a Spanish-English interpreter for a tour company in the Colombian Amazon

  • May 2018: entered a Kaggle Machine Learning competition while travelling in Montenegro with a friend

  • Jul-Aug 2018: volunteered as an Engineering and Coding tutor in a Summer School in Oxford

  • Sep 2018: two mental calculation competitions and worked as a trainer for the junior event

  • Nov 2018: another Nomad Cruise like in Sep 2017, this time to Brazil

 

Currently I'm in Brazil - the land of açai sorbet shops on every street corner - and trying to earn some money while travelling by making an online course in Mathematics. This is quite outside my comfort zone for a few reasons:

  • I haven't done a freelance project like this before
  • I have no idea about marketing
  • I'm very self-conscious about speaking on camera (although I've made a few tutorials on YouTube where I had to do this)
  • This is the first time I've had to focus so much on work while travelling so combining it with travel is difficult
  • I have no idea whether it will be very successful or a complete failure

 

Furthermore, during my month so far in Brazil I've been pretty sedentary. I'm literally sitting right now. And when I sit all day I feel pretty pathetic.

 

So my two main goals for January (starting January 1st) are to be productive with my online business and to get more active throughout the day. Out of all my challenges, positive points systems have worked best, so I'll be doing the same again. Basically there are points available for certain activities, and I just have to collect as many as possible :)

 

Be active: here I have two issues:

  • I'm often changing locations and don't know where to workout
  • I'm working for long stretches and forget to move

 

To fight this as simply as possible:

  • To encourage workouts: 1-3 points representing the biggest workout I did each day
  • To encourage finding more options: 1 point for every new fitness activity I do
  • To encourage not sitting for too long: 1 point per day when every 30 minutes I get up for a quick stretch / bodyweight set / yoga / etc. (allowed to "forget" max once per day)

 

Be productive: here I want to make as much progress as possible with the online course. I've done lots of planning (and some doing!) so I'm going to fight two forms of procrastination:

  • wasting time rather than working
  • working on easy peripheral activities rather than the serious important stuff

 

To fight this as simply as possible:

  • To encourage focused work: 1 point per day that I track my time spent doing actual work.
    • All this time must be spent doing work that I have on my to-do list
    • Work must be without distractions e.g. Facebook although I can quickly read messages from notifications
    • Time spend working must be 1+ hour per day for this to qualify
  • To encourage serious work: there are points available for certain milestones:
    • [3+ points] provide trial lessons to test material (1 point per lesson + 1 point per new student [max 5 lessons])
    • send a trial video to Udemy to approve video quality (4 points + 1 when approved)
    • run an experimental set of Facebook ads (2 points)
    • create marketing list of 40 / 60 / 100 / 200 / 500 people (1 point per threshold reached - I already have ~25)
    • create full syllabus (1 point)
    • create promo video (5 points)
    • create course videos (1 point per video - probably will need about 25 in total)
    • bonus for creating first screencast video (1 point)
    • bonus for creating first live video (2 points)
    • + points tbc. for creating extra resources
    • + points tbc. for other tasks
    • bonus for submitting entire course (3 points)

 

Scoring system inside spoiler:

Spoiler

 

Total number of points available is about 150 points + 90 points so a very successful challenge would have over 200 points and an apathetic challenge would get barely 50 points. therefore scoring will be as follows:

  • After the first 40 challenge points I get 0.25 STAT points for every 4 challenge points (so 40 => 0 ... 44 => 0.25 ... 56 => 1.00 ... 200+ => 10.00)
  • To level up I need 40% so that would be 104 challenge points
  • I may introduce some rewards :)

 

 

Good luck everyone as we hopefully start 2019 in a positive and proactive manner :D

 

[P.S. if you know someone (or yourself) who might be interested in an online course in improving at everyday Mathematics then you can help me by sharing with them this survey!]

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11 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

I'm literally sitting right now

I think even the most active of us still sit to write our posts :P 

 

Following for your Brazilian Adventure

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Welcome back, glad your transhumance is bringing you back in this corner!

 

Good luck for the new business! Are you planning to develop your customer base from internet only or will you also reach out physically in the different places you will be?

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Welcome back! I hadn't realized it's been so long since you quit your job, you lovely nomad. Glad to see you back around these parts and wishing you the best of luck in your new project.

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Welcome back! Really cool that you're able to run a business as a nomad traveling the world!

 

Do you know where you're headed next after Brazil?

 

On 1/1/2019 at 1:31 AM, WhiteGhost said:

I think even the most active of us still sit to write our posts :P 

Speak for yourself, I fidget so much in my chair it's practically cardio :P

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Thanks for the welcome everyone :)

 

On 1/1/2019 at 4:31 AM, WhiteGhost said:

I think even the most active of us still sit to write our posts :P 

 

Well speak for yourself WhiteGhost but actually most of us don't even own chairs...

  • zenLara carries her tablet with her when she goes running up the hills (and still never got a picture of that deer, or that bison, or that unicorn...)
  • Mad Hatter keeps her laptop on the other side of the room from her so she can only write messages near the end of her stretching workout when she can actually reach the other side of the room. Don't tell her she could set up the microphone for dictation :o Voice-to-text is usually quite rear libel these daze and doesn't make men in mistakes.
  • @mu types with her nose while doing handstand push-ups on parallettes. It's really hard to get that "@" these days
  • Mike Wazowski has to train with his dance partner over Skype when she's away, carrying his phone in a beautiful waltz hold, so during the easy parts he's also commenting on your posts
  • raptron actually types her posts stationary, but after crafting another masterpiece she clicks "Submit Reply" with nothing less than a round-off backflip straight onto the keyboard. She buys a lot of replacement keyboards

 

On 1/1/2019 at 4:38 AM, @mu said:

Good luck for the new business! Are you planning to develop your customer base from internet only or will you also reach out physically in the different places you will be?

 

Aha I'll be having to market mainly online. I'll try running a FB ad campaign (although the ones I see these days are so over-the-top BS that I just don't want to compete! :o And see what else I can do to get an audience who is actually interested.

 

 

10 hours ago, raptron said:

Welcome back! I hadn't realized it's been so long since you quit your job, you lovely nomad. Glad to see you back around these parts and wishing you the best of luck in your new project.

 

Ahh thanks :) People ask me how long I've been travelling, and the answer used to be "3-and-a-half months!" or "nearly a year"... Now it's "oh holy crap... like 2... um okay like I started in 2016, has it really been that long?!"

 

5 hours ago, Mike Wazowski said:

Welcome back! Really cool that you're able to run a business as a nomad traveling the world!

 

Well my total earnings since I started travelling in 2016 have been about $5000, so I wouldn't say I really "run a business yet", more sometimes I get a random project to entertain me! But hopefully soon I can start getting money somewhat faster :)

 

 

5 hours ago, Mike Wazowski said:

Do you know where you're headed next after Brazil?

 

Maybe Paraguay? No-one goes to Paraguay and I bet it feels really left out. So I'm going to go there and tell it that its okay they're not forgotten, they're still on all the maps and stuff :D

 

And maybe Chile, because apparently they don't speak Spanish there but instead some sort of gibberish. And I can go tell them how technically the Antarctica is drier than the Atacama desert and they can tell me how much they care. In gibberish, of course.

 

And perhaps Bolivia, because it's really high up and I will have an excellent view of the rest of South America from there. Maybe?

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1 hour ago, SymphonicDan said:

actually most of us don't even own chairs...

Unacceptable.  Chairs are absolutely required for safe typing.  Please see proper demonstration below

Image result for computer squat

 

1 hour ago, SymphonicDan said:

And maybe Chile, because apparently they don't speak Spanish there but instead some sort of gibberish. And I can go tell them how technically the Antarctica is drier than the Atacama desert and they can tell me how much they care. In gibberish, of course.

My brother in law is from Bolivia, and apparently his native language is also gibberish.  Funnily enough, his particular brand of gibberish is also the name of a large sports/outdoor equipment brand in China

Image result for quechua

(Edit: upon further research it is actually a French brand)

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6 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

Unacceptable.  Chairs are absolutely required for safe typing.  Please see proper demonstration below

Image result for computer squat

Haha I sometimes sit scary close to this at work. But I've got a saddle chair to make it more exciting. :D 

 

7 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

Ahh thanks :) People ask me how long I've been travelling, and the answer used to be "3-and-a-half months!" or "nearly a year"... Now it's "oh holy crap... like 2... um okay like I started in 2016, has it really been that long?!"

Wow that is a long time! Do you ever miss the more settled down lifestyle?

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Since 2016, wauw :) 

How have you been affording it? Did you simply save up that much or is your spending really low? 

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Your travels are goals. 

 

Also - totally love the scoring system. I can never make mine work. (And by never I mean I really never try...)

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On 1/3/2019 at 2:57 AM, WhiteGhost said:

My brother in law is from Bolivia, and apparently his native language is also gibberish

 

At least they accept that Quechua and Aymara are not the same as Spanish :p In Chile they still call their language Spanish. But I'll have to go there to find out whether it's comprehensible!

 

 

On 1/3/2019 at 9:10 AM, Mad Hatter said:

Wow that is a long time! Do you ever miss the more settled down lifestyle?

 

Occasionally - mainly when I come home and my younger sister is married and is wandering around doing normal life things, and I meet my schoolfriends who are doing normal life things, and I see the good side of that.

 

And then I go travelling and do acro-yoga and ecstatic dance in the middle of the ocean or go fishing for piranhas while "working" or trail-run my way to my own private waterfall, or whatever and remember why I went travelling :D

 

 

On 1/3/2019 at 1:39 PM, KB Girl said:

Since 2016, wauw :) 

How have you been affording it? Did you simply save up that much or is your spending really low? 

 

I saved up a fair amount yep, but I'm spending about €40 per day during normal travelling (including everything) but sometimes more, and sometimes about €10/day when I'm volunteering, or ~€0 when I'm visiting home for a few weeks.

 

But shockingly I don't have bottomless savings, which is why I'm trying to get some remote income now :)

 

 

On 1/3/2019 at 2:19 PM, Asa Pond said:

Also - totally love the scoring system. I can never make mine work. (And by never I mean I really never try...)

 

Hey Asa :D Haha I had to try out lots of scoring systems (with some bad failures) in order to make it work. I also like logic and rules, and I've done quite a bit of studying into the Psychology of gamification... so I have ideas now on what makes a system more likely to work:

  • points should always increase (decreases are demotivating) unless you are up for a very stressful challenge
  • the actual values of the points are less relevant (the fact that you know that you're getting points is the important thing)
  • you should have both easy and difficult targets (you want the challenge to feel difficult although manageable)
  • you should get points regularly (otherwise when you're far away from recognizing your own success then you're not benefiting from the gamification)
  • you should have a balance for process goals and success goals

For example, if you wanted to quit drinking soda, subtracting 5 points for every soda you drink is demotivating, but awarding 5 points for every day you don't have a soda is motivating. Mathematically these are equivalent unless you're having multiple cokes per day (Daniel who has a Coke today has 5 points less than Daniel who didn't, under either system) but the mindset is completely different.

 

You could also have points for example "10 bonus points for every streak of 3 soda-free days" or "10 points for every weekday that you never have a soda during the challenge" (e.g. never on any Tuesday) because these are also positive goals.

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On 12/31/2018 at 4:54 PM, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

What part of Brazil? I spent 5 weeks there in Gradschool and went all over. Be sure to get some Guarana while you are there, it's incredible.

 

Oops, forgot to reply to this one! :o

 

I've been to Recife / Porto de Galinhas / Pipa / Natal (Ponta Negra)... so all in the northeast corner so far... might also visit Rio, Iguassu or some of the beautiful canyons in the middle of the country. The problem is the country is just so big! it's the size of Europe and a bus journey hardly takes you anywhere in the grand scale of space here.

 

Challenge update:

 

My plan of tracking working time and getting up to move every 30 minutes has been pretty successful :) I feel better and reasonably productive.

 

I also got two workouts in at the park like 200m from my AirBnB here. On Wednesday I did a bit of running and some pull-ups, but spent most of the time at the skate park training different jumps onto the 100 cm wall:

  • run-up and jump onto it from my left foot (weak side)
  • two-footed jump onto the wall
  • various jumps but standing up forcefully as soon as I got onto the wall
  • tried to jump clean over the 90 cm wall too, but was too weak or scared

Then today I ran at least 5 loops of the park, which I think is about 3 kilometers total. I was trying to calculate the length of my run as I did it (part of it had meters marked out) but apparently I can't count higher than 20 when running. And did some pull-ups and core exercises to finish up.

 

Work update:

 

I've been talking more about the marketing side of setting up a Udemy course, and it seems that it's pretty important if you want the course to be successful... so I was a bit demotivated last night wondering whether it was even worth doing at all.

 

Today I've had another think at some of the ideas I have for marketing (mainly: making more free resources) and regained enthusiasm and confidence for it, but it might mean I add some extra items to the list of tasks that would give me points.

 

I'm also disappointed that during the day I'm only managing 2-5 hours of tracked work each day, despite "working" most of the day... so I need to find out where this time is going... Am I this disorganized? Or I spend more time than I expect on life things like eating and showering? Or I'm actually doing lots of useful things but not tracking it?

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Rio is worth it, it's beautiful there. If you can go to Manaus and do some eco-tourism in the rain forest. We spent some time in Manaus then took a boat ride up the Rio Negro to a hotel on poles over the river. That was the highlight of the trip for me. Also Manaus is where the Rio Negro and the Amazon meet, the water composition of the two rivers is so different it takes forever for them to integrate.

rio-negro.jpg

That's an albino freshwater dolphin. Local legend says the pink ones turn human in a full moon.

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14 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

The problem is the country is just so big! it's the size of Europe and a bus journey hardly takes you anywhere in the grand scale of space here.

Same in Argentina, you look at a map to try and find somewhere close to go and it's a 16+ hour bus ride away. :D 

 

3 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Also Manaus is where the Rio Negro and the Amazon meet, the water composition of the two rivers is so different it takes forever for them to integrate.

That's really interesting.

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On 1/5/2019 at 7:40 AM, SymphonicDan said:

I've been talking more about the marketing side of setting up a Udemy course, and it seems that it's pretty important if you want the course to be successful... so I was a bit demotivated last night wondering whether it was even worth doing at all.

 

Today I've had another think at some of the ideas I have for marketing (mainly: making more free resources) and regained enthusiasm and confidence for it, but it might mean I add some extra items to the list of tasks that would give me points.

 

Marketing can be tough. Selling yourself in general can be difficult, depending on your character. At least it doesn't come easily to me personally. When I started setting myself as self-employed, a friend gave me a copy of the Rules of Acquisition :D because I'm so exactly the opposite of all that :P  I'm back to employment for various reasons but I still do side projects every so often, I'm very much in favour of multi-streaming when it comes to income.

I'm thinking it might still be worth finding customers around you that you can interact with physically, because ok we are living in an internet era and all, but word of mouth is still extremely powerful, more than than virtual followers, at least in the beginnings imo. And since you're a nomad, you could sow seeds a little bit everywhere that would then be drawn to your online courses.

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so good to see you back on the forums :cheerful: very happy to read about your adventures and insights again!

 

How are you tracking your work time? I used rescue time for a while and was utterly shocked how little "work" time came out of long times of dedicating to it. As you say, some life things get in between, like bathroom breaks and fixing a cup of tea or so, but then also phone calls (which can be work related even) and other interruptions and then you need time to get back into things.

On the other hand, how long at a time are you really efficient while working? More time might not even mean more getting done. I'd say you can't count work hours outside of an office job in the same way as in an office job, because there you would not judge as harshly, I think.

 

It's super inspiring how well you managed to keep your traveling going so far and I love how happy you sound with it. Thriving really :) 

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12 hours ago, @mu said:

I'm back to employment for various reasons but I still do side projects every so often, I'm very much in favour of multi-streaming when it comes to income.

What sort of things do you do?

 

It's really cool that you guys are doing the side business things. While I completely agree with the multi-streaming premise I don't have any ideas to implement. So kudos to you!

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2-5 hours is really not even that bad! 

I do understand wanting to improve it though, and why not. Hopefully you can figure something out. 

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9 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

It's really cool that you guys are doing the side business things. While I completely agree with the multi-streaming premise I don't have any ideas to implement. So kudos to you!

Seconded - love the concept in theory, but I gotta respect the hustle of everyone who's done ANYTHING on that front because I haven't puled it off well.

 

Also, Dan, 2-5 hours of work ain't bad - I don't think anyone gets all that much work done in a standard 8-hour workday.

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2 minutes ago, Mike Wazowski said:

Also, Dan, 2-5 hours of work ain't bad - I don't think anyone gets all that much work done in a standard 8-hour workday. 

 

My thought as well. Unless I happen to get into some very interesting bit of coding. But on average, I don't think I can do 7-8 hours high brain activity with 100% focus.

 

9 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

What sort of things do you do?

 

Here web dev usually. I stay away from  design usually because I'm not specifically good at it and I'm usually never satisfied by myself so I find it hard to charge somebody for it. But I'll do things like internationalisation (which still may involve fixing a stylesheet for a RTL layout...) / little mashups / upgrading legacies (security, speed,  data locked away in a very poorly designed spreadsheet...).

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I'm going to echo everyone else and say that 2-5 productive hours is pretty good! Besides, isn't the whole point of being a nomad that you don't spend a bunch of time working?

 

9 hours ago, Mike Wazowski said:

Seconded - love the concept in theory, but I gotta respect the hustle of everyone who's done ANYTHING on that front because I haven't puled it off well.

But you have your teaching gig!

 

8 hours ago, @mu said:

Here web dev usually. I stay away from  design usually because I'm not specifically good at it and I'm usually never satisfied by myself so I find it hard to charge somebody for it. But I'll do things like internationalisation (which still may involve fixing a stylesheet for a RTL layout...) / little mashups / upgrading legacies (security, speed,  data locked away in a very poorly designed spreadsheet...).

Cool. :)

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