Ultralearning PMP 365 and more

This past year I accomplished a lot! I:

  • Completed over 50 online courses
  • Learned to play over 50 songs on the piano
  • Earned 1 college credit for free
  • Started homeschooling our younger daughter
  • Earned 2 certifications
    • Project Management Professional (PMP)
    • Microsoft 365 Power Platform Fundamentals

My journey started earlier in the year when I applied to take the PMP exam. Although weekend classes were available, I wanted to reserve weekends with my family – such as volunteering as an assistant coach for our girls’ basketball team.

I decided to continue my strategy to read many books while driving and staying in shape. Two books that I used to study with were:

There is also the PDF copy of the PMBOK guide that comes with membership that is a useful overview of all the processes & can be narrated from a computer. You can also find it at Amazon.

Just note the test has just been updated for this year, so make sure you get material that is related to the latest test. Another book I hear recommended a lot:

You can check with your local library which may have many of these resources.

I also paid for a year of PMI membership & signed up for their local South Florida chapter. The membership paid for itself by discounting the exam from $555 to $405, & our local chapter had regular study sessions so we could help each other out.

While studying I also was learning the new features available with Microsoft Power Platform, which includes Power Automate (Flow) that comes with a 365 subscription.

I took this exam first, which helped me set expectations when completing an online exam. I took practically everything off my desk & locked the door so no one would interrupt my exam.

I had delayed taking the PMP exam for months, but when they announced space was running out for the year I finally paid for the exam and obsessively studied for 10 days straight. I learned the key strategy is to work to eliminate wrong answers, which increases your odds of getting the question right. For the online test I also used the keyboard shortcuts to flag, highlight, & move to the next question since I used up all 4 hours of my test time.

After I passed I celebrated at a few local breweries while socially distancing.

For the online courses I was able to complete many of them from my laptop while prepping my food. One course I really enjoyed was on Mixology, which encouraged me to work on mixers like this Healthy Lemonade Limeade Recipe.

To stay motivated through the year, I also enjoyed books like:

You can also see other great books I’ve read in 2019 & 2020.

I am also looking forward to starting this book soon:

Cheers to more Ultralearning in 2021 & beyond!

What goals are you accomplishing this year? Let us know in the comments

Black Friday Computer Deals

Years ago when I was a college student earning only a little income, Black Friday allowed me to score great deals in exchange for waiting in line early. 

Luckily nowadays we have more options to avoid COVID-19 like Cyber Monday and Amazon sale days online. 

Back in the summer I picked out a nice budget laptop for under $500 to recommend to family members not sure what to buy. This time I’m looking for something with a bit more power to handle Graphics Gamers Video Card but still under $1000. 

A laptop can get decent video, but a desktop will allow more power for the price. For the video card you’ll want a brand like NVidia or AMD with 4gb+ memory just for video. 

For Desktop $750 you can get an Nvidia GeForce 1660 Super 6gb 500gb SSD AMD or $800 i5 on Amazon  

Remember for a desktop PC you’ll also need a screen, but luckily many TVs are now 4K & can do the job. 

This also comes with a keyboard & mouse. You’ll probably also want to get speakers or a headset & webcam since they are typically not built-in. 

If you need portability of a laptop there are still options

ASUS GeForce $750

Set Up New PC

So you just got a new computer & are ready to set it up? You likely bought a Windows PC, so the steps below are geared for that specifically (Mac/Linux steps are similar though).

Once you plug the power in and turn it on it will have you connect to your router/wifi & then sign in with a Microsoft account. If you don’t already have one you can create a free account.

Once you login with your password or PIN you’ll likely want to make a few adjustments:

  • Web Browsers – You can download the new MS Edge which allows you to sync your bookmarks/password/settings. Firefox is another great browser privacy-wise, & you can setup extensions like the “Facebook Container” to avoid Facebook tracking your information across other websites you visit. Chrome is also nice specifically for playing YouTube videos on another device.
  • Office / Microsoft 365 – If you have a paid Microsoft 365 account you also have additional features like Outlook for managing e-mail/calendar, OneNote for organizing notes, & Skype for contacting others.
  • Cloud / Manual Backup – You should also sync what you have on your mobile phone. OneDrive is also included with Microsoft 365, so you can use that app to sync photos/videos in your camera roll automatically in the cloud & access it anywhere. If you prefer to manually sync, just use the appropriate application (e.g. iTunes for iPhone).
  • Other – You can also download meeting software like Zoom or MS Teams, which is great if you ever need to share your screen with someone to help you out with a computer issue. You can also get Adobe Reader for reading PDF documents, as well as other useful features such as digitally signing documents.

You’ll likely also want to access files that you’ve had access to on your other computers. If you put everything in OneDrive then you should see those right away. Or if you haven’t, make sure you manually copy them over using a USB drive or over the network.

Those are my essentials, although everyone has different needs. You may also want to add games, music, or other applications that you use regularly.

What are your top apps that you use daily? Let us know in the comments

Pick the Right Computer

Years ago computers were huge & expensive, but nowadays you can easily get what you want for a decent price.  

A laptop is portable to give you the option to move around with it easily, so is usually preferred over a desktop computer. A PC is also generally preferred over Mac due to the lower price. 

So what should you look for when shopping around?  

For $500 you should easily be able to get a mid-range without a touch screen. some things you should look for: 

  •  storage (hard drive): 256gb SSD or more 
  •  memory: 8gb or more 
  •  processor: Intel i5 gen8 or more (or AMD equivalent) 

For me screen size 14-15″ is about right, since you can plug it into a larger monitor when at a desk. I didn’t bother with touch screen, but I did want to get a full HD screen when I’m not plugged into a larger monitor. 

The specific laptop I chose was the Asus VivoBook 15 which is currently $480 on Amazon 


If you want to be extra productive, having a bigger/separate screen can really help. With a standard HDMI connection you can usually even connect a larger TV like the 40″ 4K TV I use, or opt for something smaller like this: 

27″ 4K $250 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZSGR5TM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B07ZSGR5TM&pd_rd_w=9xc6z&pf_rd_p=48d372c1-f7e1-4b8b-9d02-4bd86f5158c5&pd_rd_wg=Gu3rZ&pf_rd_r=658GZFEAE94M9SYPGFYK&pd_rd_r=f6ab978c-d993-4643-bfec-d053a1f0ec11&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyTUJJVDgwRFk2N1JGJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzI5NzA2M0xNUTlCQjFVVFVTSSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwOTI4OTQyMk5FNTdPOVFEN1cwMSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbCZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=&linkCode=ll1&tag=digitalbeyond-20&linkId=0b8a78a8c84c3dea3ffd2565cb0dc577&language=en_US 

Runners up are: 

43″ 4K TV $230 https://www.amazon.com/Hisense-43R6090G-43-Inch-Smart-Compatibility/dp/B087F8GCVC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?crid=338DQS6CWKRBH&dchild=1&keywords=4k+tv+43+inch&qid=1592959723&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_three_browse-bin:7688788011,p_n_size_browse-bin:3578041011&rnid=1232878011&s=tv&sprefix=4k+tv+,electronics,288&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=digitalbeyond-20&linkId=eda2d7d652ab94d34636d67d4bfe638d&language=en_US 

32″ 4K monitor $385 https://www.amazon.com/LG-Electronics-32MU59-B-Screen-Monitor/dp/B075RPVGBX/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=4k+monitor&qid=1592960123&refinements=p_n_size_browse-bin:3547808011,p_n_feature_fifteen_browse-bin:17751804011%7C17751806011&rnid=17751799011&s=pc&sr=1-6&linkCode=ll1&tag=digitalbeyond-20&linkId=32127a7ef882963395c2dc797d8c43ac&language=en_US 

I like having my larger 40″ TV screen at 4K to allow many windows to be open at once versus a smaller screen. However, if you choose the smaller monitor options you can adjust the scaling on them to make the smaller screen work. 

Keep in mind for some laptops it may take several weeks if it is not already in stock (e.g. you chose custom specs). 

Also if you have an old laptop you’ll want to get all the files together (it is best not to open individual files to avoid the time drain, just move them to folders inside one area & you can sort through them later). Common areas for files are Desktop, Documents (including pictures/videos), & any shared folders such as on a network. 

You can check the size to see if they easily fit on a USB thumb drive, & we can also copy over to the cloud if you have a cloud service such as OneDrive. 

What computer or accessory are you looking for? Let us know in the comments 

Three Secrets to Achieve Goals

So what is the secret with achieving goals? Maybe you’ve reached some, but if you are like many you make big goals & then give up when it gets out of reach.

 In my younger years I struggled for years with keeping consistent with exercise. Then the TV show Ninja Warrior came along where I trained for 30 days & completed most of the obstacles. The same thing happened with my financial life – for years I lived in fear of picking the wrong investments, but now with the power of FIRE I’m on track to reach financial freedom in 7 years so my daughters can model the behavior.

Let’s look at what works:

  1. Fun – Make it a game with rewards along the way. I love trying new craft beer, so for me that is a great incentive along the way to keep me motivated. I also love competition, so  challenging others can also help.
  2. Strong Desire – Having a powerful purpose drives our passion. Having a WHY is critical – the 80% vs. the how 20%. We need an urgency to help motivate us daily, so a shorter time like 30 days is a great time to solidify a habit & get 1% better daily.
  3. System to stay on track – Our brains can tend to make something bigger than it is, so don’t let it. Break what you need to do in small steps where you can get into the habit even if it is just for 5min a day, & make sure you are building a Growth mindset so you won’t give up.

For more on the secrets above, check out the books Start with Why, Atomic Habits, & Grit.

So get started, now is the time! Give yourself a 30 Day Challenge & get excited while you challenge others to set their goals. If you need some ideas, I’ll share what our family is up to:


  • Code a playable video game – this includes designing the characters, story, sound. My daughters have been taking free virtual classes, & are even helping teach me. Along the way we’ve upgraded our computers & tried out old & new games, so look for an upcoming post on that.


  • Play 30 new songs on piano – I’ve always loved music in games & movies, but it wasn’t until recently that I saw myself wanting to learn piano. Practicing one key at a time has been very helpful, & you can see my previous post of the USB 32-key piano I’m using on my computer.


  • Running a new PR – I used to hate running, but when I started training with runners I learned the tricks of the trade. Just before COVID-19 I had my best time ever. So now I’m not only looking to reach that again, but also look into completing
  • The “Murph Challenge” – by later this year by starting with doing a shorter half-Murph. Look for a future post & a virtual 5K group that we’re starting.


  • Read 5 books – this is a perfect time since I’m pursuing certification while helping colleagues adjust to COVID-19 & working remotely. I’ve also added friends that are avid readers to my Goodreads so my list of books to check out will never run out.
  • Level up the Spanish Language – 5min on a language-learning app is something that can easily be done daily, & making it a game makes it fun.


  • Legacy document – this is crucial when you start building wealth so that your family has a clear path of what to do after your passing. I also want to
  • Challenge others to invest – in their future, even if they are just getting started. If you qualify, you can still contribute to a Roth IRA for the 2019 tax year.

What 30 Day Challenge are you going to tackle, & what reward will you choose? Let us know on Twitter using #30DayChallenge

Virtual Office Digital Tools Webinar

So the COVID-19 Coronavirus has created a new normal for a while (see DestroyObstacles.com for more posts about that). Workers that normally would have not utilized as many digital tools and resources are now asked to figure it all out in record time.

Seeing this as an opportunity to share the many digital tools and resources available, I created a FREE 30-min webinar on “Digital Tools for Your Virtual Office,” including an optional Q&A session afterwards. Register for our next event on Thu 4/30 at 4pm EDT & I’ll “see” you there!

What are some specific digital tools you want to know more about? Let us know in the comments

Grocery Delivery During COVID-19 Quarantine

So with many places closing during COVID-19 pandemic and cities going into quarantine (see DestroyObstacles.com for more), it has been hard to find many of our favorite grocery items (cue the plethora of TP memes). You can risk going to the store, but luckily there is a safer way.

I enjoy using grocery pickup at Walmart Grocery when I can, as well as delivery from WholeFoods in my area, but you may find difficulty for a few weeks stocking up that way.

Luckily I’ve found luck with another Amazon Prime offering Amazon Fresh.

If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime account to use Amazon Fresh, you can try it for 30 days at Amazon.com.

Stay tuned for more resources that we can leverage during all of this – online meeting tools, learning resources to teach our kids, and more.

How are you dealing with COVID-19? Let us know in the comments

How to Devour Books 25X

I met my goal of reading 25 books for the Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge! 

For many years I gave myself the excuse that I didn’t have the time to sit down and read, and barely read 1 book a year. So how did I do it? 

Well listening to audiobooks while driving or training for sports like American Ninja Warrior definitely help. Luckily books in Amazon Kindle format can also be read by Echo devices and even using the Alexa app. 

My Top 5 in 2019 were: 

Tools of Titans – audio / book 

Quit Like a Millionaire – audio / book 

Eight Dates – audio / book 

Open – audio / book 

Your Money or Your Life – audio / book 

You can see the full 2019 list & other books @GoodReads @DigitalBeyond https://www.goodreads.com/digitalbeyond  

This year should be 25 or more books easily, and you may find many of your favorites available at your local library. 

If you don’t already have devices to help check out the Kindle, and you can spread out multiple Echo Dots around the house to read to you when you are not using headphones. 

What books are you looking forward to reading this year? Let us know in the comments 

Alexa Car Review – Voice Command Life with Echo Auto

I love technology that makes life easier, but those of you that know me know that I can be prettyfrugal. I drive my 12 year old car with pride. The premium speaker package with CD-changer has an earlier version of Bluetooth that doesn’t let you play audio through it. I was using the auxiliary cable to plug in my phone until I “upgraded” to an iPhone 7 without a headphone jack. It did come with an adapter, but those eventually stopped working and I switched to new bluetooth earbuds. I did have an old Bluetooth adapter that played through the radio, but reception wasn’t the best.

In the past voice command technology was pretty terrible, but then the first decent virtual assistant landed on my iPhone 4s back in 2013. Then Amazon introduced the Echo and I was loving the Echo Dotand Echo Showin multiple rooms in our house. So when Amazon announced Echo Auto for my car I knew I had to try it.

The device initially scrolls an orange light that reminds me of KITT from Knight Rider. Initially I had trouble pairing my phone, but once that that was done I was able to connect services like Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, & more.

Voice command like playing songs worked great for the most part, although some songs play remix or other version, and since I sometimes drive in areas with bad cell reception it may not pick up voice-command, although you can still manually control things with your paired phone.

It definitely is better than what I had before, so it is a great product even with the few annoyances.

You can see a list of all the best selling Echo products here

What is your favorite voice-command device, and what do you like best about it? Let us know in the comments