Monthly Archives

November 2018

Lifestyle

How to Save Space in a Small Home

November 28, 2018

You can live in a 300 square metre house and yet feel crowded. Equally, you can live in a 60 square metre flat and feel that its spacious and airy. The future of housing, with the population rising and more people sharing rooms and homes, requires a smarter use of space. Improperly furnishing your place, neglecting to consider space maximisation in a small house, will mean youre living a cramped life needlessly. Instead, make absolutely sure that youre extracting value from every square inch of space in your home by following the tips outlined below.

Paint Smart

The feel of a space differs significantly depending on how you paint the walls – and the feeling of the colours you work with. Some colours create a warm feel while others are cold, and the general idea is to use colours that feel spacious, such as white, instead of colours that actually make the room feel smaller. Dark rooms can feel gloomy and uninviting – lighter rooms feel breathable, airy and expansive in comparison.

Furnish Smart

Furniture pieces are more than just functional, in the sense that their purpose is not just to provide you with a level surface on which to eat, or a seat in which to sit. Nowadays furniture is designed to have more flexibility and adaptability built in, which means modern furniture might be the right option if youre trying to save space.

An excellent example of space-saving furniture are wall beds – not only adaptable in saving space, but they provide a sense of modernity, and they can allow for different settings within the same small living space. Other tips for smart furnishing include:

  • Arranging things appropriately. Generally speaking, you need to avoid stacking furniture in the middle of the room, which makes the space feel crowded. Have the smallest and lowest furniture in the centre of the room in order to accentuate the space around it.
  • Get rid of boring or useless furniture pieces, and instead make sure that anything thats rarely used in your home is either providing visual relief from the clutter or is an integral ornament to your home. If its not, it should go.
  • Do not forget that you have a 3D space. Use the vertical depth of your home wisely to store more and spread your belongings throughout your space. An easy example of this is floor-to-ceiling shelving. Having more surface area to work with means youll have the ability to arrange places for your small items, making them easier to find.

Be Experimental

You have to be a designer to know exactly how things should look in your home – but youre nonetheless encouraged to just experiment with your space. Its a fun activity to spend some time moving things around, seeing what the outcome is when item A is swapped with item B, and so on. Rearranging the furniture in your house will help you see your space differently, opening up holes in the space you own that you didnt know existed before.

See cramped or small abodes as a challenge and not a defeat, and work to make the very most of your conditions with the tips provided above.

Lifestyle

How to Cope With a Mental Health Condition

November 28, 2018

Mental health problems affect ever-increasing numbers of people across the country, causing distress, misery, and lost productivity on a massive scale. Sadly many people don’t seek help for their mental health problems until they become severe, which means that recovery takes longer and is more problematic. If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, it’s difficult to cope with on many levels, but there are ways you can help yourself to recover from your illness and return to leading a happy, fulfilling life.

The complications of mental illness

Having a mental health condition has added complications compared to a physical illness. Firstly, there are no outward signs of mental illness, at least not until you become very severely afflicted. That means people you meet and friends and family might not realize how sick you are, and to add to the problem, a lot of people still find it hard to be honest about mental health issues, so they don’t tell people they’re unwell.

You might find that because people don’t know there’s anything wrong, they won’t understand if you seem out of sorts, don’t want to talk, or you become irritable or angry. They may just assume you’re having a bad day, or they may even take offense and think you don’t like them anymore. The only way to avoid this problem is to be open about your illness. You don’t have to give any more details than you feel comfortable with, but unless people know you’re unwell, they won’t be able to understand your behavior.

The nature of mental illness

Another problem with mental health disorders is that because your brain is the organ that’s ailing, in many respects your thought processes aren’t working in the way they usually would. For example, if you have depression, you’re likely to view yourself and your abilities in a very poor light, being unduly self-critical and often convinced that not only do people not like you but that you are essentially unworthy of their regard. Managing these thoughts when you’re ill is a real challenge, which is why it’s so important to make sure you have a good support network in place, with both professional help, plus support from those close to you, to aid your recovery.

Another common problem for people with mental health problems is substance abuse. When you’re unhappy or your thinking is disordered, you may think the answer lays in a bottle of vodka, or a narcotic high. Although these substances might provide a form of temporary relief from the misery of mental health problems, in the long run, they make the situation worse. Therefore, if you’ve started taking these substances when you have a mental health disorder, you should find out about rehabilitation centers that specialize in helping people with both mental health problems and substance abuse issues, such as benzo withdrawal treatment.

It’s never easy to live with poor mental health, and it can feel almost impossible to help yourself get better at times. Just remember that’s the illness making you think that way, and you genuinely can get better.

Business

How will virtual reality impact the education sector?

November 27, 2018

As technology continues to advance, so too does the way we can learn. While the internet has enabled us to conduct research on any subject at ease, our learning spaces and facilities are also improving. Virtual reality is gradually becoming part of many industries and when it comes to schools and colleges, it’s no longer a case of simply sitting at a desk with your books. Here, we look at how VR is impacting the education sector.

Guided tours

Virtual reality allows you to get to know your learning space before you’ve even set foot on the property. An Ofsted report for Newcastle College praised the establishment’s world class facilities, and students are encouraged to take a tour of what’s on offer online.

By offering virtual reality tours,you are opening up your institution to prospective students away from the area as well as those on your doorstep. It can make your centre appear unique and special, helping you stand out from the crowd and is a lot more engaging than simply using photos to promote your space and courses.

Virtual classrooms

Not so long ago, the bulk of the learning experience came from teachers standing at the front of a classroom and students working through a text book. Of course, this still happens, but there are a host of other opportunities available too.

With Open University (OU) courses allowing students to study outside of a classroom, lesson plans can take you anywhere in the world. For example, recently the OU took students to the Great Barrier Reef via virtual reality. The Google Expeditions technology allowed students to go on a virtual field trip to a location which would be near impossible for them to actually visit.

Professor of Learning Technologies and Social Computing, Shailey Minocha, developed the field trips for the OU and said: “Our previous research has shown that the high degree of realism now achievable in virtual field trips complements the physical field trip experience and in imparting fieldwork skills. Virtual field trips also make it possible to experience activities and locations that may be impossible, or extremely difficult, to arrange in real life.”

Reports found that students benefit from class trips, with 72% gaining a better understanding of their subject and two thirds would do better in their exams if they went on excursions. With virtual reality this complex situation will be a lot easier to organise, meaning that virtual trips could become a frequent part of teaching.

Hands-on experience

Hands-on training is key to a student’s learning. Doctors and mechanics, for example, benefit from carrying out ‘on-the-job training’ in work experience and in-class modules. However, due to its complexity, virtual reality can help when it comes to time, cost and controlling the health and safety aspect of this experience. If apprentices or students can take part in surgeries or engine changes in a virtual environment, their learning period will be significantly accelerated. This allows them to learn a potentially dangerous task in a safe environment.

Not only this, but hands-on learning helps to increase learner engagement, helping to activate more parts of the brain, which in turn leads to information being stored for a longer period of time.

If education uses virtual reality wisely, we will see students hugely reap the rewards. Technological advances are providing the tools to change the way we learn and teach, and virtual reality can be a big player in this.  

Sources

https://blog.concept3d.com/top-5-reasons-use-virtual-tours-schools-website

https://www3.open.ac.uk/media/fullstory.aspx?id=30596

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/impact-virtual-reality-education-parag-diwan/

https://www.halsbury.com/useful-guides/benefits-of-school-trips/

https://demmelearning.com/learning-blog/hands-on-learning-benefits/

Business

How to improve productivity in the workplace

November 27, 2018

Procrastination can come at a great cost for businesses. According to research, procrastinating professionals can cost a company up to 36 working days each year, with texting, shopping and browsing social media during work time being top distractions.

So, what exactly can be done to help boost your workforce’s productivity levels. We take a look here with Cliverton, specialists in insurance for dog walkers.

Improve office conditions

Did you ever think that the temperature you set your office at can have an effect on how productive your employees are? The optimum temperature is between 20-21C. Anything outside of this bracket may lead to distractions in concentration, as employees will be more interested in reaching an acceptable body temperature. This could include getting up to put their coat on or playing with the air conditioning system.

Also, the colour you decorate your office can have a significant impact on both morale and productivity. While we may say we are feeling ‘blue’, this primary colour is said to put you at ease in the workplace. It’s said to be an ‘emotionally comfortable’ colour, meaning you’ll be happier if your décor is awash with blue. Green has a similar effect and is most suited to those who are looking for a creative environment. Then there is purple; a colour which can encourage teamwork and creativity. You’ll likely find this, alongside red, in design firms.

It can also be worthwhile introducing standing desks to your office space. Not only is this concept a good way to boost your staff’s productivity, but it also has health benefits. By allowing a colleague to choose or alternate their stance during the working day, you will be showing that you care about their well-being.

Set realistic goals and targets

Introduce SMART goal setting into your workplace. This means you should be specific in your goal, making sure it’s measurable and action-orientated. It should also be realistic and time-bound.

Setting your colleagues targets that are achievable is crucial. Research indicates that goal setting can improve work performance by up to 25%. However, if you introduce goals or targets that aren’t realistic, morale and productivity will nose dive. It’s important that you keep staff focused and on the same track. This can be provided by giving them clear directions and an end goal that is clearly reachable.

Office pet

Have you ever wondered why some workplaces, including Google and Amazon, have their very own pet? Well, research has found that nine out of 10 dog owners are happier in life because of their furry friend. This is because they can help reduce stress levels, and this can also transfer to the office.

Nestlé UK’s head of HR, Paul Steadman said: “Having a dog-friendly workplace encouraged interaction and socialisation between employees who may not have crossed paths otherwise.”

This is important, as a good relationship with co-workers has been found as a major player in job satisfaction. And, as they say: a happy worker is a good worker.

Promote healthy living

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, male workers who are a healthy weight take two days less off due to sickness compared to those who are overweight. Therefore, company benefits, such as the use of a company gym and free fruit, can go a long way to improving productivity. In Google’s New York office, it’s even rumoured that no colleague is ever more than 150 feet away from food because they believe nutrition will keep the productivity levels high.

Team building activities

A good way of increasing productivity in the workplace, is implementing team building activities throughout the year. A day out of office during a busy schedule might not sound like a good idea but in the long run, having a more engaged and happier workforce will be worthwhile to the business. Team development activities should definitely be considered when looking at ways to improve productivity.

Flexible shift patterns

The work/life balance is something that is extremely important, especially to millennials, who are now dominating the workforce. It’s been found that 70% of millennials believe a flexible work schedule is a priority when looking for a new job. Head of Brand and Content at Remote Year, Emily Moyer agrees, stating that “flexible work schedules make you happier”.  

Thanks to flexible shift patterns, a colleague will feel less stressed due to the fact they can easily plan their schedule around their life commitments.

As productivity is crucial to any company, following the above advice can help keep your workers happy. In turn, this will benefit your business and you will reap the rewards. After all, as Richard Branson says: “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Sources

http://www.onrec.com/news/statistics-and-trends/procrastinating-professionals-costing-businesses-to-36-working-days-a

https://businesstown.com/8-ways-increase-productivity-workplace/

https://www.arnoldsofficefurniture.com/the-3-best-colors-for-office-productivity/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/standing-desks-boost-productivity-not-just-health-study-finds/2016/05/31/b7948390-2358-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.93f27d0e38cc

https://cmoe.com/blog/improve-productivity-with-goal-setting/

https://smallbusiness.co.uk/office-dog-boost-productivity-2540616/

https://www.boostability.com/how-to-boost-office-productivity

https://www.britishgas.co.uk/business/blog/how-healthy-eating-can-help-boost-your-workforces-productivity/

http://www.talk-business.co.uk/2017/06/09/why-9-5-is-no-longer-the-way-to-make-a-living-flexible-work/

https://www.digitalistmag.com/future-of-work/2017/06/16/remote-future-9-to-5-thing-of-past-05147028

Business

The Skills You Need To Land A Remote Working Job

November 26, 2018

Working remotely is very convenient because you can get your work done anywhere and save money on a daily commute. However, there are some basic skills you need to have if you plan on working remotely.

Here are some of the required skills for those who want to work remotely.

Self-Motivation

If you want to work remotely, you have to be able to motivate yourself. If you work in an office, you will have supervisors who make sure you get the job done by the required time, but when you work remotely, complacency can set it and if you can’t motivate yourself to get the job done, you will be out of work very quickly.

Strong Communication Skills

Working remotely means you will be doing a lot of work from your computer. If you have difficulty communicating through your writing, working remotely will be difficult to do because that will be your primary means of communication.

Reliable Equipment

One of the most important things to have when you work remotely is reliable equipment, which means you should have a good computer that won’t freeze or crash on you while you are working, and as fast and reliable internet connection. Your employer and customers expect efficiency from you and if you don’t have access to reliable internet connection or a computer that is up to the task, you will have to reconsider your plan to work remotely.

Comfortable Working Alone

Since you will be working remotely, you will have to be comfortable working on your own. People working in offices usually get to work with their colleagues and interact with them on a daily basis. As a remote worker, you won’t be able to interact with people on a regular basis, which is fine for some people but problematic for others.

If you need to be around other people to be more productive, working remotely might not be the best option for you. If you work better on your own and don’t need to be around people to be productive, you should give working remotely a try.

Tech Savvy

With most work being done digitally these days, being tech-savvy is a must. If you’re still grappling with using Microsoft office, you might want to stick with what you are already doing. If you are comfortable with computers, social media, and other new technology, you should be okay.

For those who need some help with the skills listed above, you can acquire these skills through training. If you’re interested in being trained, visit EssentialSkillz to learn some tips on how to work remotely.

Lifestyle

6 Top Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

November 22, 2018

If you are carrying a few extra pounds, then you may be looking for ways to lose weight quickly. Weight loss can be very beneficial, and can lead to an improved figure, better self-esteem, more energy and less aches and pains. However, losing weight too quickly can be bad for you, so it’s always best to steer clear from fad diets or meal replacements and instead lead a healthier lifestyle so that your body can lose fat at a healthy pace. Here are some top tips to help kick-start your weight loss.

#1. Cut Out Carbs:

Eating too many carbohydrates can cause you to pile on weight quickly, especially if you are not doing enough exercise to burn it all off. Since starchy carbs such as bread, pasta and potatoes are turned into sugars if not burned up, what may seem like a healthy meal could actually be causing you to gain weight.

#2. Eat Healthy Fats:

Contrary to popular belief, healthy fats found in foods such as avocado, olive oil and even some nuts and seeds are actually good for your health and will help you to lose weight. These kinds of fats work by helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer, so that you will eat less and avoid weight gain. Although they may seem tempting, anything ‘low fat’ is actually not good for your weight loss.

#3. Take Supplements

There are a range of supplements which you can take in order to help speed up your weight loss. Green tea, caffeine and raspberry ketones are all popular supplements taken alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise to speed up healthy weight loss.

#4. Join the Gym:

When paired with a healthy diet, you can start to see some excellent results quite quickly with regular physical activity. Going to the gym for just half an hour per day, for example, can quickly help you to gain strength and become fitter overall. Plus, as you lose weight, exercise will help improve your figure by toning you up.

#5. Try Coolsculpting:

If you want to kick start your weight loss journey by losing a few extra inches and feeling better and more confident within yourself, CoolSculpting can be a great procedure to try. What is CoolSculpting? It works by targeting and freezing fat cells under the skin, encouraging the body to eliminate them. Targeting ‘problem’ areas with CoolSculpting can take you one step further to the body you desire, motivating you to maintain your healthy and active lifestyle.

#6. Stay Hydrated:

Did you know that many of the times that you feel hungry, you are actually thirsty? If your body is getting dehydrated, then you could mistake your thirst for hunger and end up eating more than you really need. You should always aim to drink around 2 liters, or about 6-8 glasses per day of pure water. Not only will this help you to lose weight, but it’ll also improve the condition of your skin, hair and nails.

Weight loss takes time and effort, but with perseverance and dedication, you can achieve the results you need.  

Lifestyle

6 Tips For Getting A Great Night’s Sleep  

November 18, 2018

Did you know that nearly half of Americans are too tired to work efficiently? In a 2017 survey, it was revealed that 43 percent of the nation did not get enough sleep at night to safely carry out the tasks expected of them in the workplace while 67 percent admitted to feeling generally fatigued during the 9-5 slog.

Those figures just go to show how important a good night’s sleep is. It is essential to a healthy existence and both our physical and mental wellbeing. A good, deep sleep repairs our bodies and improves the functionality of our brains.

If you are worried that you don’t get enough good quality rest, then here are six tips to getting a great night’s sleep.

Expose yourself to bright light during the day

Your body has a natural timekeeping clock known as the circadian rhythm. It affects your brain, body, and hormones and essentially manages your body in terms of when it is time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep. A sort of more complicated body clock, if you like.

By exposing yourself to natural or bright sunlight during the day, you’ll be keeping your circadian rhythm healthy which will improve your daytime energy levels and as a result of that, the quality of your nighttime sleep.

Getting outside in the sun will, therefore, ensure you get a longer, better night’s sleep. If you live somewhere where the sun only makes very infrequent appearances throughout winter, then making sure you work and live in a well-lit home during daytime hours can also help.

Reduce unnatural light before bed

Light in the day is good, but lights before bed are bad. Again, this is because of your circadian rhythm, which will be tricked into thinking that it is daylight if exposed to too much light before your put your head down.

The “blue light” given off by electrical devices is particularly bad news in this regard. Every time we look at our cell phone screen or our tablet before we go to bed, we’re preventing our bodies circadian rhythm from working properly by making it believe it is daytime. With so many American’s now suffering from what is considered a phone addiction, this can be a real problem.

There are several ways in which you can block blue light from affecting your circadian rhythm. You can buy glasses that block out blue light, download an app that either helps manage the amount of blue light your device emits or blocks it completely or most effective of all, stop watching television and turn off all devices two hours before you go to bed.

Don’t drink caffeine before bed

Most of us need our morning coffee to get us going at the start of the day, which means we all know the energy boost that comes from caffeine. That boost arrives from caffeine’s ability to stimulate our nervous systems, stop our bodies from relaxing, heighten awareness and making us more alert mentally.

Clearly, none of those effects are good for getting a great night’s sleep. If you want to ensure that the effects of caffeine are completely out of your system by the time you go to bed, then you need to have your last cup of coffee of the day no more than six hours before you go to sleep, as caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for anywhere up to eight hours.

By giving your body its final energy boost at around 3pm in the afternoon, you should ensure you can get through the final few hours of the day and flushed the caffeine from your system by the time you want to go to bed. Any later than 4pm, and you’re setting yourself up for a low-quality night.

Take a melatonin supplement

Melatonin is the key sleep hormone that tells your brain when it is time to relax and head to bed. As a result, taking melatonin supplement is an extremely popular and effective way of improving your quality of sleep.

It’s largely used when a person wants to avoid jet lag or adjust to a new time zone, but it has also proven to be extremely effective in the battle against insomnia. Just 2mg of melatonin before bed has been shown to improve sleep quality and energy levels the next day.

Start with a low dosage to assess your tolerance and then increase as necessary. Since melatonin can alter your brain chemistry, it’s always best to speak to a healthcare professional before taking it if you are worried.

Avoid alcohol around bedtime

You might think that one small nightcap can help you get to sleep at night, but alcohol is in fact bad news for having a good night’s rest. It is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea and snoring, which can lead to a disrupted night’s sleep.

Most pertinent of all though is that alcohol can also alter the bodies nighttime cycle of melatonin production which, as we’ve already touched upon, isn’t good news for ensuring you get the required amount of shut-eye.

By avoiding alcohol before bed, you will be helping your body regulate melatonin levels and helping to ensure a higher quality of sleep. If you’re worried about a possible alcohol or drug addiction issue which may be the reason behind you not sleeping well, then click here to find out more about addiction treatment.

Reduce how much you nap during the day

Having a nap during the day, especially on a lazy weekend, is one of life’s great pleasures. Short, sharp, power naps can be beneficial, but if these turn into long or irregular napping during the day, then you are going to be adversely impacting on your ability to sleep at night.

Sleeping in the day can confuse your internal clock, especially when the nap goes on for longer than 30 minutes. If you need to have a little sleep, then be sure to limit how long for and if you find you can’t sleep at night as a result, then either shorten how long you are napping for or cut naps out altogether.

 

Business

Choosing the Perfect Conference Venue

November 16, 2018

If you want to have a conference, the venue is very important regardless of if the conference is for your employees, customers, potential clients or a big launch. One of the reasons why the conference venue is important is the fact that you want to make a good impression. If you’re trying to woo potential clients and pick the wrong venue, chances are they will go with someone else.

Before you plan your next conference, here are some tips to help you pick the perfect venue.

Location

If you own a business, you understand the importance of being in the right location. You want your business to be in a safe area where there is plenty of traffic. The same thing goes for the location of your conference, you want it somewhere people can easily get to without getting lost in the wrong side of town.

If the conference will take a few days, have it in a place that has hotels, restaurants, museums, or even a shopping district so the attendees have something to do when they aren’t at the conference.

Venue

The venue of your conference should depend on how many people you are expecting to attend. You don’t want to rent a large hall when you have less than 30 people attending and you don’t want to rent a place with a seating capacity of 100 when you are expecting close to 500 people. Have an idea of the number of people attending and rent a venue that will fit everyone comfortably.

You can find a suitable venue for your next conference through www.partyhouses.co.uk. They offer small or large conference venues in the uk which are perfect to suit business needs.

Parking

This is a big deal for a lot of people attending conferences because most people do not enjoy having to walk long distances to their cars when they attend conferences or pay too much to park nearby. Pick a venue that either has its own parking lot or has one within a short distance. If you can’t find a venue with available parking lots, you can arrange for a shuttle to pick people up at another parking lot and drop them off at the end of the day.

Venue Fees

Unless you’re the CEO of a very successful business, the venue fee is something you have to consider when finding the perfect conference venue. You should have a budget before you begin your search and make sure the venue you rent fits into the budget.

Catering

If you’re going to have people sit around for hours listening to what you’re trying to sell, the least you can do is feed them. You can either hire an outside catering crew or use the in-house caterers. Some venues don’t allow outside caterers, which means you have to use their crew.

If you are thinking of having a conference, these tips should help you pick the perfect venue for the event.