Archive for happiness

Inspirational quotes

Posted in Topical with tags on December 7, 2010 by virtualcitypa

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
Francis Bacon

The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.
William James

Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.
George S. Patton

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra

Inspiration and genius–one and the same.
Victor Hugo

To find what you seek in the road of life, the best proverb of all is that which says: “Leave no stone unturned.”
Edward Bulwer Lytton

Along with success comes a reputation for wisdom.
Euripides

They can because they think they can.
Virgil

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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

Team Building – A Complete Guide

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , on July 8, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Team Building is the process of improving collective performance.

Small businesses need to work harmoniously to really thrive and this is why we thought this exert from the teamtechnology.co.uk website was relevant for many of our clients.

Simple but effective way of making team building work include:

* Establishing ownership of shared goals
* Removing inhibitors/blockages to achievement of those goals
* Introducing enablers (awareness, resources, information, processes, etc.) to help achieve those goals
* Using team building processes (e.g.: health checks, performance management, 360 feedback)

Team Building is often ineffective because:

* In many cases, advanced techniques are used whilst there is a lack of buy in to the shared objectives (commitment to team building activities is predicated on commitment to the overall direction/goals)

* Interventions are made out of sequence (e.g.: a poorly defined structure, roles and responsibilities will undermine attempts to improve interpersonal relationships)

* Many offsite events fail to add any real, lasting value because the approach taken to team building is too generic(any offsite event should be designed to meet specific goals and outcomes

* There is often a lack of understanding of the difference between a group and a team (team building with a group can be counter-productive, detracting from individual performance without any compensatory collective benefit)

* There is a lack of assessment of the team (diagnosis is required in order to develop effective intervention strategies)

Objectives

In the Forming stage (Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing), individuals are committed, at most, to their own objectives. Members will only invest time in Storming activities if they think it is worth it – that is, if the collective objectives are seen as important as their own.

A common mistake is for individuals to think that being committed to their own objectives means they are committed to the team.

As in the age-old metaphor where a house needs to be built on rock, the foundation of all team building is commitment to the shared goal.

Techniques

If team building is viewed as a commodity, as a product to be purchased from a supplier, then it is unlikely to have any lasting value. Having an awayday, playing games or doing fun things will generally lead to lasting and improved collective performance only in the context of a good plan, where events are bespoke (designed to meet specific objectives and outcomes). In fact, having an awayday without good design is taking a gamble – it may achieve something, be a waste of time, or even damage teamwork.

The choice of intervention strategy depends not only on the current state of teamwork, but on the nature of the people. For highly motivated individuals, it can be enough to set a high level direction and then allow individuals to contribute to the detailed development of the goals. For others, whose natural motivations are more individual, there may need to be objective-based rewards that require teamwork. In some instances, where high levels of teamwork cannot be achieved, they may only be effective in the Forming stage, which is highly dependent on leadership.

Groups

A group is a set of people with individual objectives who happen to share the same boss, or the same workplace, or be part of the same organisational unit. In a group, individuals might even have the same objectives – e.g.: in a sales force, everyone might have the same sales target to meet, but they may also compete against each other rather than cooperate.

A team is a group that works towards a single, common objective. In fact, they might have different individual objectives, but those objectives contribute to the higher collective one. E.g. in a sales team, one person might make appointments, another provide technical sales support, another prepare a bid document, and another make the sale. But they are all accountable together for the sales and are not judged solely on individual objectives.

Strategies

Interventions fall into four main areas:

* Individual – e.g.: development of individual skills; establishing familiarity with shared processes
* Relational – e.g.: improvement of unconscious dynamics; engendering a sense of common purpose and commitment
* In/Out Groups – tackling the barriers between different organisational units
* Cultural – building a teamwork ethos in larger organisations
The foundation of good teamwork is having a shared commitment to common objectives. Without this, all other forms of team building will have a limited impact. Therefore, before using any team building exercises and activities, or team buildinglooking at relationships in the team, or embarking on other forms of team building, you need to put this foundation of shared commitment in place by:

* Clarifying the team goals, and building ownership/commitment to those goals across the team
* Identifying any issues which inhibit the team from reaching their goals, rand emoving the inhibitors
* Putting in place enablers to help the goals be achieved to higher standards
* Using team processes in the correct sequence to help the team climb one rung at a time up the ladder of performance

Team Building is therefore not just a single event (though events can play a part), nor is it something that can be done by someone outside the team (though outside consultants can help). It is a task primarily for the team manager and the team members themselves.

Four Types of Team Building

Once you have established the basic foundation of shared commitment, the approach you then take to team building depends on the size of the team and the types of issues that may be inhibiting good teamwork.

Better teamwork is achieved through dealing with: individuals, small teams, team islands and the organisation.

Individuals

In a project environment, where team composition is continually changing, the emphasis must be on selecting people who are self-starters and developing the skills in individuals to become effective team members very quickly. The ‘scale’ involved is 1 person, and the team building consultant or trainer is endeavouring to change the skills and abilities of the individual at operating within a team (or within multiple teams).

Small Teams

In teams where membership is static – typically in management teams – the motivational challenge is to align the drive of the disparate individuals around the same goals. There can be many inhibitors to performance – eg: personality, dynamics, processes etc., and how the individuals within the team relate to each other can have a big bearing on team performance. So, if a member leaves, or another joins, the dynamics of the team can be changed greatly and the task of team building has to start again. Here, the scale is small – say, 2 to about 12 – and the main priorities are to build the foundation of collective ownership of team objectives, and then overcome inhibitors through team bonding, facilitation, processes, etc..

Team Islands

A larger scale operates between teams. Where the teams do not relate well, they are called ‘team islands’. The motivational challenge is to overcome the problem of “in/out groups” so that people have positive attitudes towards those in other teams. There are often many barriers between teams that inhibit team performance, but not all of them can be removed. The main task, therefore, is the bridging, or relationship, between the teams.

Large Teams

The largest scale is organisational culture change. With the exception of the senior management team, any changes to personnel have limited impact on the corporate culture. The key aim of company-wide team building is to change the behaviours and attitudes prevalent in the organisation, which are almost independent of who actually works there – new recruits who are ‘different’ often start behaving in accord with the existing culture.

Summary

* A team is a group of people working towards a common goal
* Team building is a process of motivating and enabling the team to achieve that goal
* The stages involved include clarifying the team goals, building ownership, removing inhibitors, introducing enablers and using processes to move up the ladder of performance
* The nature of the team building varies in terms of scale, and what you are trying to achieve:

http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/h-articl/tb-basic.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?

Happy New Year

Posted in Topical with tags on December 31, 2009 by virtualcitypa

The New Year may be a significant event for many people. But the absurdities of the celebration cannot escape a skeptic’s mind. Here are some funny New Year quotes. What better way to start a New Year than with a hearty laugh? You can share your joy by greeting everybody with these funny New Year quotes.

Mark Twain
New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.

Brooks Atkinson
Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.

Bill Vaughan
Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.

P. J. O’Rourke
The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year’s Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you’re married to.

James Agate
New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.

Eric Zorn
Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.

Bill Vaughan
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

Charles Lamb
New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.

Oprah Winfrey
Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Mark Twain
New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

Judith Crist
Happiness is too many things these days for anyone to wish it on anyone lightly. So let’s just wish each other a bile-less New Year and leave it at that.

Anonymous
Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.

Joey Adams
May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!

Anais Nin
I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.

Oscar Wilde
Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.

Robert Paul
I’m a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little bit rounder, but still none the wiser.

Anonymous
A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.

Leonard Bernstein
From New Year’s on the outlook brightens; good humor lost in a mood of failure returns. I resolve to stop complaining.

G. K. Chesterton
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

http://quotations.about.com/od/specialdays/a/newyear3.htm

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year

Posted in Topical with tags on December 24, 2009 by virtualcitypa

To all Virtual City PA clients – current and prospective alike, we wish you a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year. Here’s to a prosperous year ahead

We look forward to serving you well through 2010

Best regards

Amanda

Personal budgeting

Posted in Finance with tags , , on September 21, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Budgeting money is very important and learning how to do it is not that easy yet it is very much achievable. Budgeting money involves making a plan or a layout on how to spend wisely. Also, budgeting allows you to save essential funds for priorities such as house rent, bills, car loan, household supply, clothing and savings.

Budgeting money in general is all about calculating your monthly expenditure based on your living costs from preceding months and saving for emergencies or unexpected circumstances like visits to the doctor or buying a new set of tires.

The very first step in budgeting money is to know your monthly income and expenses, which you can break down in monthly and yearly terms. Once you have started in budgeting money by following the above step, you will be able to see where your money is being spent.

Afterwards, think of different things you want to save for such as home renovation or travel vacation and things that you need to save for aside from emergencies such as college funds, wedding and etcetera.

Budgeting money is about prioritising your expenses within a specific time, ideally in a monthly basis. Start thinking of things that you can live without and what you really need. Keeping track of your expenses like keeping your receipts or writing down what you have recently purchased can be very helpful in budgeting money and saving money.

Once you get your pay, you should immediately deduct from it the amount that you will need for your bills and all other necessities. Afterwards, set aside an amount for your personal and emergency fund savings. Then, if there is any spare cash left you can spend it on whatever you want.

You should strike a balance between being frugal and being good to yourself. Remember that there are things that you really need and there are things that you only want. You should know which to prioritise. Spend your money first on what you need because the things that you want can always wait. On the other hand, do not be too hard on yourself. Choose activities that will allow you to enjoy your hard work while keeping costs under control.

Budgeting money is also about planning your lifestyle and being aware of your spending behavior. Once you already have your budget plan set, try your best to follow it. There is no sense in having a budget plan if you do not stick to it. Budgeting money is something that anybody can plan and do. It may be difficult at first but eventually you will get the hang of it. The key is to adjust little by little.

http://www.linkroll.com/budgeting/advice-on-budgeting-money.php