Archive for the Lifestyle Management Category

General lifestyle management

Posted in Lifestyle Management with tags , , , , on December 2, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Dr. Dan Rutherford, GP highlights in this article some good pointers to improve your work-life balance that we considered worthy of sharing once more.

Exercise

Most people think of exercise solely in terms of weight loss, but it also builds muscles and bones, lifts mood and is a great way of beating stress. If you don’t do 30 minutes of walking most days, plus one or two aerobic sessions a week, you aren’t exercising enough.

If you want to make changes to your routine, bear in mind it takes three weeks to adopt a new habit, so you should draw up a plan that carries you beyond this point.

Sleep

Most adults need six to eight hours of sleep each night. When we sleep, we rest and our body is able to renew its energy. This may be why a good night’s sleep seems to improve the immune system, minimising our risk of illness.

Sleep is also important because of dreams. When we dream, we process all the events of daily life. Getting a good night’s sleep, therefore, influences our psychological wellbeing.

Stress

We all have an instinctive stress response that releases hormones into our bloodstream when we are faced with danger.

These hormones cause instant mental and physical change in us, giving added strength and endurance so we can fight or take flight.

Instead of using our stress hormones in emergencies, we live at such a pace that many of us activate them all the time – like when we are going to miss a train or someone cuts us up on the motorway.

Most tense people don’t give themselves sufficient time and space to rest after each stress-filled moment. With no release, your stress hormones keep on working, which is why there are so many people around who lose their tempers at the slightest provocation.

If this sounds like you, make learning how to reduce and cope with stress a priority.

What we drink

Good hydration is essential for mind and body, so make sure you drink plenty of water every day. Not all drinks are equal, so if you need to boost your liquid intake, watch your caffeine (and sugar) levels don’t creep up.

Where we get energy from

The food we eat is used to provide energy for every function in the body, from walking and talking to digesting and breathing.

The main types of food – carbohydrate, protein and fats – are important sources of energy.

Current guidelines suggest that we should get:

  • about 50 per cent of our energy from carbohydrates (cereals, bread, pasta and potatoes)
  • 10-15 per cent from protein (meat, cheese, soya)
  • less than 30 per cent of energy from fats (70g per day for women, 100g for men). Many of us eat more than this a day.

The actual amount of energy you require will depend upon the type of lifestyle you lead.

The recommended figures are 2000 calories per day for women and 2500 for men – but you may need less than this if you take little exercise and sit at a desk all day, and more than this if your job involves manual labour.

www.netdoctor.co.uk

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Be more successful – Delegate more

Posted in Lifestyle Management, Management / Leadership, Time Management with tags , , , , on July 22, 2010 by virtualcitypa

There is only so much time in the day, so it is important to delegate tasks as the managementstudyguide.com reports:

A manager alone cannot perform all the tasks assigned to them. In order to meet the targets, the manager should delegate authority. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. Delegation is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results.

Elements of Delegation

1. Authority – in context of a business organisation, authority can be defined as the power and right of a person to use and allocate the resources efficiently, to take decisions and to give orders so as to achieve the organisational objectives.

Authority must be well- defined. All people who have the authority should know what is the scope of their authority is and they shouldn’t misutilise it.

Authority is the right to give commands, orders and get the things done.

The top level management has greatest authority. Authority always flows from top to bottom. It explains how a superior gets work done from his subordinate by clearly explaining what is expected of him and how he should go about it. Authority should be accompanied with an equal amount of responsibility.

Delegating the authority to someone else doesn’t imply escaping from accountability. Accountability still rest with the person having the utmost authority.

2. Responsibility – is the duty of the person to complete the task assigned to them. A person who is given the responsibility should ensure that they accomplish the tasks assigned to them. If the tasks for which he was held responsible are not completed, then they should not give explanations or excuses.

Responsibility without adequate authority leads to discontent and dissatisfaction among the person.

Responsibility flows from bottom to top. The middle level and lower level management holds more responsibility.

The person held responsible for a job is answerable for it. If they perform the tasks assigned as expected, they are bound for praises. While if they don’t accomplish tasks assigned as expected, then also they are answerable for that.

3. Accountability – means giving explanations for any variance in the actual performance from the expectations set.

Accountability can not be delegated. For example, if ‘A’ is given a task with sufficient authority, and ‘A’ delegates this task to B and asks them to ensure that task is done well, responsibility rest with ‘B’, but accountability still rest with ‘A’.

The top level management is most accountable. Being accountable means being innovative as the person will think beyond his scope of job. Accountability ,in short, means being answerable for the end result.

Accountability can’t be escaped. It arises from responsibility.

For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps : –

1. Assignment of tasks and duties
2. Granting of authority
3. Creating responsibility and accountability

Delegation of authority is the base of superior-subordinate relationship, it involves following steps:-

1. Assignment of Duties – The delegator first tries to define the task and duties to the subordinate.

2. Granting of authority – Subdivision of authority takes place when a superior divides and shares his authority with the subordinate. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results.

3. Creating Responsibility and Accountability – The delegation process does not end once powers are granted to the subordinates. They at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them.

www.managementstudyguide.com/delegation_of_authority.htm

5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance

Posted in Lifestyle Management, Time Management with tags , , , on July 1, 2010 by virtualcitypa

At Virtual City PA, we feel its important to remember to keep a healthy work-life balance and are here to help take the strain. These 5 tips from Sherry Rauh made a lot of sense..

1. Figure Out What Really Matters to You in Life

1. If my life could focus on one thing and one thing only, what would that be?
2. If I could add a second thing, what would that be?
3. A third?
4. A fourth?
5. A fifth?

If you answer thoughtfully and honestly, the result will be a list of your top five priorities.  Research shows that a typical top-five list might include some of the following:

    * Children
    * Spouse
    * Satisfying career
    * Community service
    * Religion/spirituality
    * Health
    * Sports
    * Art
    * Hobbies
    * Adventure/travel

2. Drop Unnecessary Activities

By making a concrete list of what really matters to you, you may discover you’re devoting too much time to activities that aren’t a priority, and you can adjust your schedule accordingly.

If at all possible, you could try dropping any commitments and pursuits that don’t make your top-five list, because unnecessary activities keep you away from the things that matter to you.

3. Protect Your Private Time

You would probably think twice before skipping out on work, a parent-teacher conference, or a doctor’s appointment. Your private time deserves the same respect. “Carve out hours that contribute to yourself and your relationship,” says Stevan Hobfoll, PhD, distinguished professor of psychology at Kent State University, and co-author of Work Won’t Love You Back: The Dual Career Couple’s Survival Guide. Guard this personal time fervently and don’t let work or other distractions intrude. “Stop checking email and cell phones so often,” Hobfoll advises. “Few people are so important that they need their phones on at all times.”

If work consistently interferes with your personal time, Hobfoll recommends discussing some adjustments with your boss. “There’s a mythology in the workplace that more hours means more.” Demonstrate that you can deliver the same or better results in fewer hours. Your job performance “should never be judged in terms of hours of input,” Hobfoll says. Protecting your private time often leads to “greater satisfaction in both work life and personal life, greater productivity, and more creativity.”

If you’re your own boss, it’s up to you to create boundaries that keep work from intruding on family time. Lachlan Brown is president of Tech for People, a small business consulting firm specializing in Internet marketing. “I make it very clear at the beginning of any new business relationship that if I work nights and/or weekends then this is purely by choice,” he tells WebMD. “I’ve told clients more than once that if they call me at night or on the weekend that they shouldn’t expect me to a) answer the phone and b) reply until the next business day.”

4. Accept Help to Balance Your Life

Allow yourself to rely on your partner, family members, or friends — anyone who can watch the kids or run an errand while you focus on other top priorities. “Try tag-teaming,” Hobfoll suggests. “One spouse works out before dinner, one after dinner, while the other watches the kids.”

To get more alone-time with your partner, accept babysitting offers from friends and family, or try arranging a regular trade-off with another couple. “‘I’ll watch your kids this Saturday if you watch mine next Saturday.’ Tag-teaming is a great way to create extra free time,” Hobfoll says.

5. Plan Fun and Relaxation

Fun and relaxation are an essential part of living a well-balanced life. That’s why Brown makes time for weekly guitar lessons, a yoga class, a date night with his wife, and a guys’ night out a couple times a month. In addition, he exercises on a trampoline in his backyard most days of the week. How does he squeeze in all this playtime while running his business and sharing the responsibilities of raising a daughter? “If you believe that the most important thing is to be happy in life (not when I’m a millionaire or when I retire but right now) then you can always make time.”

Until you get into the habit of taking time for yourself, set aside space in your planner for relaxation and fun. Plan what you’re going to do and make any necessary arrangements to ensure you’ll be able to keep your commitment. “Remember, you make time for what you want to make time for,” Fortgang says. If something is important to you, don’t brush it aside with a dismissive “I don’t have time for that.” You are in charge of your own schedule — it’s up to you to make time.

WebMD “5 practical steps toward better work-life balance” by Sherry Rauh
Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD
http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/5-strategies-for-life-balance?

Dealing with stress

Posted in Lifestyle Management with tags , on June 28, 2010 by virtualcitypa

This article is from Business Balls – a free ethical learning and development resource for people and organisations, run by Alan Chapman, in Leicester, England.

Quick stress reduction techniques

If you are stressed, do one or all of these things, in whatever order that takes your fancy. These ideas can also be adapted for team development exercises.

The key to de-stressing in the moment is getting away from or removing yourself from the stressor. Developing new habits which regularly remove you and distract you from stressors and stressful situations and pressures is essentially how to manage stress on a more permanent basis.

In this modern world it is difficult if not impossible to change stressful situations. What we can do however is change and reduce our exposure to those stressful situations.

These stress reduction ideas and techniques are based on that simple principle. These tips won’t change the situation causing the stress, but they will, more importantly, enable you to change your reaction and relationship to the stressful situations.

And in keeping with the tone of this stress tips section, and since colour is regarded by many as a factor in affecting mood, the calming shade of green is used for the headings..
 
Stress reduction idea 1 – Humour

Humour is one of the greatest and quickest devices for reducing stress.

Humour works because laughter produces helpful chemicals in the brain.

Humour also gets your brain thinking and working in a different way – it distracts you from having a stressed mindset. Distraction is a simple effective de-stressor – it takes your thoughts away from the stress, and thereby diffuses the stressful feelings.

Therefore most people will feel quite different and notice a change in mindset after laughing and being distracted by something humorous.

Go read the funny family fortunes answers. Or try the funny letters to the council. Even if you’ve seen them a hundred times before. As you start to smile and chuckle the stress begins to dissipate.

If this material fails to make you laugh then find something which does.

Keep taking the laughter medicine until you feel suitably relaxed and re-charged.

Stress reduction idea 2 – Brisk walk and self-talk

Go for a short quick really brisk walk outside.

Yes, actually leave the building.

Change your environment.

Breathe in some fresh air and smell the atmosphere…

Trees, rain, flowers, traffic fumes – doesn’t matter – stimulate your senses with new things.

On your way out keep saying to yourself out loud (and to anyone else you see, in that daft way people say “Elvis has left the building..”):

“(your name) is leaving the building.. ”

And when you are outside and free say:

“(your name) has left the building.. ”

You can extend the exercise by going to a park and jogging a little.

Or do a few star-jumps – something energetic to get your body moving and relaxing.

Or stroke a dog, or pick up some litter, or kick a kid’s football.

You can of course use other mantras or chants, depending on what you want to do and how far you want to get away from the stress causes, for example:

“(your name) is doing star-jumps/picking up litter/looking for a small non-threatening dog..” or

“(your name) is leaving/has left the industrial park/district/city/company/country..” etc, etc.

Of course this is daft, but the daftness reduces the stress by removing you from the stress in mind and body.

Doing something daft and physical – and reinforcing it with some daft chanting – opens up the world again.

Stress reduction idea 3 – Rehydrate

Go get a big cup or a bottle of water.

Here’s why…

Most of us fail to drink enough water – that’s water – not tea, coffee, coke, ‘sports’ drinks, Red Bull or fruit juice…

All of your organs, including your brain, are strongly dependent on water to function properly. It’s how we are built.

If you starve your body of water you will function below your best – and you will get stressed. Physically and mentally.

Offices and workplaces commonly have a very dry atmosphere due to air conditioning, etc., which increases people’s susceptibility to de-hydration.

This is why you must keep your body properly hydrated by regularly drinking water (most people need 4-8 glasses of water a day).

You will drink more water if you keep some on your desk at all times – it’s human nature to drink it if it’s there – so go get some now.

When you drink water you need to pee. This gives you a bit of a break and a bit of exercise now and then, which also reduces stress.

When you pee you can see if your body is properly hydrated (your pee will be clear or near clear – if it’s yellow you are not taking enough water).

This will also prompt some amusing discussion and chuckling with your colleagues (“Nature calls – I’m off to the bog again…”) which is also good for reducing stress.

You do not need to buy expensive mineral water. Tap water is fine.

If you do not like the taste of tap water it’s probably because of the chlorine (aquarium fish don’t like it either), however the chlorine dissipates quite naturally after a few hours – even through a plastic bottle – so keep some ordinary tap water in the fridge for 2-3 hours and try it then.

If you want to be really exotic add a slice of lemon or lime. Kiwi and sharon fruit are nice too…

So now you are fully watered and guffawing and exercised up to the max, read on for ideas for how to prevent stress as well as reduce and manage it.
 
Stress reduction technique 4 – Catnap or powernap

(Not so easy but still perfectly possible)

Take a quick nap. It is nature’s way of recharging and re-energising.

A quick 10-30 minutes’ sleep is very helpful to reduce stress.

It’s obviously essential if you are driving while tired, but a quick sleep is a powerful de-stressor too.

A lunchtime snooze is very practical for home-workers – it just requires the realisation that doing so is acceptable and beneficial (when we are conditioned unfortunately to think that sleeping during the day is lazy, rather than healthy).

At some stage conventional Western industry will ‘wake up’ to the realisation that many people derive enormous benefit from a midday nap. Sounds ridiculous? Tell that to the many millions in the Mediterranean countries who thrive on a mid-day siesta.

People in the Mediterranean and Central Americas take a siesta every working day, and this is almost certainly related to longer life expectancy and lower levels of heart disease.

See the more detailed evidence and reasoning in the sleep and rest section below.

If your work situation is not quite ready to tolerate the concept of a daytime nap then practise a short session of self-hypnosis, combined with deep breathing, which you can do at your desk, or even in the loo. It works wonders.

See the self-hypnosis and relaxation page.

In the summer of course you can go to the nearest park and try it alfresco (that’s from the Italian incidentally, al fresco, meaning in the fresh air – which is another good thing for stress reduction).

Stress reduction technique 5 – Make a cuppa

Any tea will do, but a flavoured cup of tea is even better.

Experiment with different natural flavourings using herbs and spices and fruit.

Fresh mint is wonderful, and excellent for the digestive system. Nettles are fantastic and contain natural relaxants. Orange zest is super (use one of those nifty little zester gadgets). Ginger root is brilliant. Many herbs, spices, fruits and edible plants make great flavoured tea, and many herbs and spices have real therapeutic properties.

Use a ‘base’ of green tea leaves – about half a spoonful per serving – plus the natural flavouring(s) of your choice, and freshly boiled water. Be bold – use lots of leaves – experiment until you find a blend that you really enjoy. Sugar or honey bring out the taste. Best without milk, but milk is fine if you prefer it.

Making the tea and preparing the ingredients take your mind off your problems, and then smelling and drinking the tea also relaxes you. There is something wonderful about natural plants and fruits which you can’t buy in a packet. Use a tea-pot or cafetiere, or if you are happy with a bit of foliage in your drink actually brew it in a big mug or heatproof tumbler.

Fresh mint and ginger tea recipe:

Put all this into a teapot or cafetiere and add boiling water for 2-3 cups. Allow to brew for a minute or two, stir and serve. (This is enough for 2-3 mug-sized servings):

1-1½ heaped teaspoons of green tea leaves
2-4 sprigs of fresh mint (a very generous handful of leaves with or without the stems – more than you might imagine)
3-6 zest scrapes of an orange
half a teaspoon of chopped ginger root
2-4 teaspoons of sugar or 1-2 teaspoons of honey – more or less to taste

Alter the amounts to your own taste. The recipe also works very well without the orange and ginger, which is effectively the mint tea drink that is hugely popular in Morocco and other parts of North Africa. Dried mint can be substituted for fresh mint. Experiment. The Moroccan tradition is to use small glass tumblers, and somehow seeing the fine colour of the tea adds to the experience.
 
Stress reduction technique 6 – Crying

Not much is known about the physiology of crying and tears, although many find that crying – weeping proper tears – has a powerful helpful effect on stress levels. Whatever the science behind crying, a good bout of sobbing and weeping does seem to release tension and stress for many people.

Of course how and where you choose to submit to this most basic of emotional impulses is up to you. The middle of the boardroom during an important presentation to a top client is probably not a great idea, but there are more private situations and you should feel free to try it from time to time if the urge takes you.

It is a shame that attitudes towards crying and tears prevent many people from crying, and it’s a sad reflection on our unforgiving society that some people who might benefit from a good cry feel that they shouldn’t do it ever – even in complete privacy. Unfortunately most of us – especially boys – are told as children that crying is bad or shameful or childish, which of course is utter nonsense. Arguably only the bravest cry unashamedly – the rest of us would rather suffer than appear weak, which is daft, but nevertheless real.

Whatever, shedding a few tears can be a very good thing now and then, and if you’ve yet to discover its benefits then give it a try. You might be surprised.

Employers should provide a stress-free work environment, recognise where stress is becoming a problem for staff, and take action to reduce stress. Stress in the workplace reduces productivity, increases management pressures, and makes people ill in many ways, evidence of which is still increasing. Workplace stress affects the performance of the brain, including functions of work performance; memory, concentration, and learning. In the UK over 13 million working days are lost every year because of stress. Stress is believed to trigger 70% of visits to doctors, and 85% of serious illnesses (UK HSE stress statistics). Stress at work also provides a serious risk of litigation for all employers and organisations, carrying significant liabilities for damages, bad publicity and loss of reputation. Dealing with stress-related claims also consumes vast amounts of management time. So, there are clearly strong economic and financial reasons for organisations to manage and reduce stress at work, aside from the obvious humanitarian and ethical considerations. If you are suffering from stress yourself the stress management guidelines here are just as relevant.

http://www.businessballs.com/stressmanagement.htm

What is concierge?

Posted in Lifestyle Management, Virtual Assistance with tags , on January 4, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Personal concierge services allow clients to “buy back” their precious time so that they can get back to enjoying what means most to them. A personal concierge works on the most basic of premises: people want things done and just don’t have the time to do them.

Many concierge companies provide errand services and information services for their members. Services include informational requests, setting dinner reservations, making telephone calls, researching travel arrangements and more.

Typically, concierge companies will bill on an hourly rate, and depending upon the type of task, and fees can fluctuate drastically. Other companies bill a flat monthly fee based upon the number of requests a member is allowed to place each month. This service offering is also known as lifestyle management.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concierge