10 Habits to Enhance Your Productivity and Happiness

How many hours of your work week do you devote to relaxing or just enjoying time with family and friends?

If you find yourself becoming increasingly distracted and unable to focus (or even physically exhausted and emotionally drained), it’s worth making some lifestyle changes. Try giving these healthy habits a go.

1. Put away your devices.

Our mind and body crave activity, and we owe it to ourselves to look for pastimes that promote productivity and don’t always require going digital. If you already spend 8 hours at work in front of a screen, give your eyes a break. Edwin Soriano, life coach, trainer, and author of You Can Be Happy Again, advises to “make your bed a no-device zone. The glow of screens emit light that mimics the effect of sunlight on our body, thus keeping the body ‘awake,’ and messing up our sleep cycle.”

2. Eat slow.

Food should be as much about enjoyment as it is about sustenance. Take notice of the various tastes, colors, aromas, textures, and temperatures of every meal. Paying attention to what you eat creates small delights that inspire a daily “discovery,” rather than a much desired escape from work.

Soriano suggests scheduling “a monthly lunch with a mentor, to learn something constructive while enjoying a good meal.”

3. Drink water–plenty of it.

Staying hydrated can do wonders to your brain activity and general well-being, encouraging productivity. It helps boost the immune system and flush out toxins.

In his book Water for Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!, author Fereydoon Batmanghelidj says that “the body can suffer from deep dehydration without showing a dry mouth.” Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.

4. Have regular personal conversations.

Nodding to acknowledge someone is nice, but making the effort of conversing with a person you see on a daily basis can exponentially brighten both your days. Make it a habit to speak to different people. It will improve your social skills, and allow you to build relationships easily.

“Smile more often,” says Archimedes Miranda De Leon, San Francisco-based life coach of 10 years, fitness trainer for 15 years, and yoga teacher for 17 years. “It helps release serotonin and oxytocin for joy, and helps create trust.”

5. Add one song to a playlist every day.

Music can enhance experiences, heighten emotions, and perk up moods. So if or when you’re stuck in traffic, take the opportunity to look for new artists and discover old ones. Not only will you chance on some gems, but you’ll also build an interesting playlist worth sharing.

“You can also listen to motivational audiobooks,” De Leon suggests. Learning can distract you from the negativity of road traffic, and help you get to work or home in a better mood.

6. Get your unread emails down to zero.

It’s unsettling, isn’t it? Those little numbers staring back at you on your desktop and mobile, and never quite going down. You don’t know what’s what anymore, and it’s better to leave them be than go through each of them individually. But it’s a chore that needs to be done.

Open those newsletters, click “unsubscribe,” then delete. Commit to a few minutes of digital decluttering everyday for a friendlier inbox. Create folders so you can keep track of important matters, and use those folders to help you organize your affairs.

If or when you’re on holiday, Soriano suggests setting up an “out of office” auto-reply to let everyone in your professional circle know that you won’t be available until a certain time. “If there is anything important, have the sender re-send the email when you’re back at the office,” Soriano adds.

7. Learn to prioritize instead of multi-task.

This is easy. You need only remember two factors: important tasks and urgent tasks.

To help you identify which is which, ask yourself if the task is for you or for someone else. Most tasks demanding immediate action are most likely for someone else. They qualify as urgent because ignoring them can have implications for another person that is not you. But that’s not to say you can’t put yourself first.

If you feel that a task can wait and your needs are more important, communicate this with the people involved, and try to find a reasonable middle ground. By prioritizing, you are giving yourself more time and energy to do what you feel matters more, rather than trying to do everything at once. This can greatly enhance your personal productivity.

8. Don’t ruminate.

In other words, get out of your head. Don’t spend too much time thinking about something over and over. Do it, then move on to the next.

Whenever you catch yourself lost in thought, ask yourself why this matters…then find an outlet. Write down your thoughts, draw them, and share them with someone you trust. Don’t keep it inside, and don’t brush it aside. It will come back, and you’ll be running the same circle over and over again.

Take it from Derek Doepker’s book Why You’re Stuck: Your Guide to Finding Freedom from Any of Life’s Challenges. He says, “The first obvious reason why awareness is important is that you have to be aware of what the problem is in order to overcome it.”

De Leon says that focusing on what’s happening in the moment instead of what happened or what could happen, is key: “Be awake and be present to what is now.”

Soriano also shares a wonderful nugget of wisdom. “Instead of spending excessive time and energy on making decisions, learn to make ‘provisional decisions.’ You will never have all the information you need, so work with the information you have at hand. Move forward by taking that one step…and be okay with making adjustments later.”

9. Weigh the costs of your projects and commitments.

Everything has a price; the currency just varies. Some projects will cost you more time than necessary; others will cost you energy you can invest elsewhere. Opt for projects and commitments that give you the best returns.

Assessing opportunities is a good habit to have in achieving work-play balance, so ask yourself these questions: Does the project demand more than I’m happy to give for the amount it pays? Will it help me grow personally and professionally? Am I in the company of people I admire?

10. Live close to places where you work and play

Cutting down travel time will certainly boost your productivity as well as enhance your happiness. Alveo Land properties are always within ideal locations in the metro that help promote a happy and productive lifestyle. This includes residential condominiums for sale in Makati, BGC, Pasig, or QC, so choose to invest in the best place for you.

Once you work all these into your consciousness, you should be able to notice bits of positive shifts in your daily routine. In time, these will contribute to a significant and mindful life.

Game-changing Titles that Inspire the World’s Best Bosses

Innovation is the buzzword ad nauseam. It’s what today’s acclaimed entrepreneurs and bosses are all about, but what fuels them? They are all voracious readers.

Bill Gates is said to read some 50 books a year. Mark Zuckerberg aims to read 24 books every year, while Warren Buffett dedicates more than half a day to reading. If you’re plotting your game-changing moves for 2018, check out these 10 titles–a mix of classic and current–straight from the VIPs’ lists.

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Clayton M. Christensen, 1997)

This is a fascinating study on how the ability to innovate is born from organizational cultures. In

The Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen explains how more established organizations can still stumble despite good management and a steady clientele. He also gives concrete examples on successful companies moving forward in the midst of mass markets.

It’s no wonder that this work figures among the Amazon editors’ 100 Leadership & Success Books to Read in a Lifetime. Harvard professor Christensen’s thoughts on embracing innovation remain fresh and relevant to this day.

In his book about Amazon, The Everything Store, Brad Stone cited The Innovator’s Dilemma, as “an enormously influential business book whose principles Amazon acted on, and that facilitated the creation of Kindle and AWS [Amazon Web Services].”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Simon Sinek, 2011)

Branson, the maverick entrepreneur looks to leadership guru Sinek as a source of inspiration. Acting more like a handbook for CEOs, Start with Why gives brands practical tips on how to put themselves above the rest, attract the right people, and find greater client loyalty. Talking about a company’s driving purpose–i.e., why they do what they do–gives better insights than talking about a company’s product. “This book is not designed to tell you what to do or how to do it. Its goal is not to give you a course of action. Its goal is to offer you the cause of action,” writes Sinek.

Travels with Charley in Search of America (John Steinbeck, 1960)

Reading about someone’s tour of the US with a French poodle isn’t that edifying, unless it’s John Steinbeck and his dog taking the trip. Although he begins the trip just to get to know the country, Steinbeck ends up renewing his faith in humanity because of the different people he encounters along the way. This is why Branson considers Travels with Charley his manual for living. “It opens your eyes to the small pleasures of life, and the great wonders of humanity in the little moments that matter,” Branson writes in Business Insider.

Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street (John Brooks, 2014)

Although its focus is on world events in the 1960s, Business Adventures still manages to impart valuable insights into modern business practices. Brooks’ timeless analysis of Wall Street events is what hooked a couple of famous fans. Best pals Warren Buffett and Bill Gates share business and philanthropic pursuits, and their best reads as well. Buffett even gave Gates this book, calling it one of his favorites. Gates later told The Wall Street Journal, “More than two decades after Warren [Buffett] lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published— Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read…Brooks’s deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then.”

Bill Gates, Co-founder, Microsoft Corporation

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012 (Carol Loomis, 2013)

A collection of cover stories on Warren Buffet, plus other pieces written by Buffet himself, Tap Dancing to Work gives readers a peek into how one of the world’s wealthiest men lives his life–from running his businesses to parenting. His unique perspective acts as a useful guide for the book’s readers, including Bill Gates. For Gates, reading Buffett leaves you with two important life lessons: be consistent with your vision and investment principles, and never stop studying how businesses and markets work.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (Phil Knight, 2016)

This is another work that Gates considers a game-changer. Knight paints an honest picture of his life and career, from his ambitious first steps in Stanford to the mistakes that cost him. Knight’s autobiography is a compelling reminder that the journey to success is a bumpy ride. But, as he writes, “If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Adam Grant, 2017)

The New York Time’s bestseller is best described as a dinner conversation with Grant on how to spot and champion innovation. Sandberg not only considers this book a source of inspiration for innovation, but also as a warning against mediocrity as Grant challenges the myths and conventional views on creativity. In her foreword to the book, Sandberg writes, “In these pages, I learned that great creators don’t necessarily have the deepest expertise but rather seek out the broadest perspectives…. It will not only change the way you see the world; it might just change the way you live your life.”

Elon Musk, Co-founder, CEO and Product Architect, Tesla

The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937-1949)

You would think that CEOs have no time to read voluminous novels like Tolkien’s much-celebrated trilogy about Middle Earth. But apparently, Elon Musk does, and with good reason. Basically a saga about good versus evil, Musk as a kid identified with the underdog story line: “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” Galadriel’s words sank into the consciousness of that young and nerdy boy, who took to fantasy and science fiction as a way of coping with a lonely childhood. Stories of heroes called to save the world led him to dream big. Just look at how far he’s gone.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, Facebook

“I love reading first-hand accounts about how people build great companies … and nurture innovation and creativity,” says Zuckerberg. Here are two of his favorites.

Creativity, Inc. Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Ed Catmull, 2017)

The story of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios as told by their president and co-founder is entertaining as it is inspiring. This is a case study for creative leadership–how one maintains a collaborative environment while still effectively leading the company.

The Idea Factory and the Great Age of American Innovation (Jon Gertner, 2013)

The history of Bell Labs, founded by Alexander Graham Bell in the 1920s, offers a wealth of insight to the challenges and solutions to technological innovation, as seen through the life and work of the team tasked with establishing a transcontinental phone line to connect New York and San Francisco.

Reading is indeed the smart executive’s gateway to innovation and empowerment. Immersing yourself in new, even unfamiliar, worlds and to eye-opening accounts could profoundly change the way you see life.

Inspired by the same passion, Alveo Land offers a diverse portfolio for living and working well. See more of Alveo Land properties here.

Nationwide Culinary Tours: Indulging in Appetizing Local Dishes Across the Regions

PANCIT NEGRA | CAVITE

INGREDIENTS
1/2 kilo vermicelli pasta (cooked according to package directions)
1/2 kilo fresh squid (cleaned and cut into rings)
Celery (chopped)
3 tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 large red onion (chopped)
1 thumb size ginger (cut into small pieces)
Chicaron bits
Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING DIRECTIONS
Cook your noodles to save you time while preparing your sauce and squid.
Clean the squid and carefully remove the squid’s funnel and place the ink on a clean bowl.
Slice the squid as well as its tentacles into small pieces. Rinse well and drain again.
Using a sauce pan, sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger over high heat. Add the sliced squid and stir-fry for one to two minutes.
Add vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and squid ink. Pour a cup of water then slightly raise the temperature for it to start boiling.
After two to four minutes, lower the heat to medium flame then add the vermicelli. Stir well until it is absorbed into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and chopped celery then mix.
Sprinkle with chicharon on top alongside toasted garlic before serving.


MILLIONAIRE SALAD | VISAYAS REGION

INGREDIENTS
250 g heart of coconut palm
5 cooked medium sized tiger prawns (peeled and deveined)
1 ripe avocado (diced)
220 g of tomatoes (halved)
2 mangoes (diced)
50 g cooked pork (finely sliced)
1 small white onion (finely sliced)
carrot (julienned)
red chilli (seeds removed, finely sliced)
1 tsp of sesame seeds
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
80 ml (1/3 cup) of extra-virgin olive oil

COOKING DIRECTIONS
Combine the oil and vinegar in a bowl and whisk.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
Slice the coconut palm heart lengthways and place in a mixing bowl.
Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the sesame seeds. Toss well.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds then serve.