Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to motivate yourself to work after a long vacation

It has been the longest holiday so far. Your mind is still anchored on that sweet vacation, and you refuse to believe that is back to reality. No matter how workaholic you are, you still find time for a valuable break from a hectic routine, either for a week or several days. Admit it, you deserve it. If you continue to adhere or attach to your work 24/7 you’ll never succeed. We need a hiatus or hibernation for us to get another supply of energy and detoxify ourselves from the stress, pollution and negative energies.

But going to back to work after a long vacation is never really that easy. It takes an iron hand to drag you out of your bed in the morning of Monday. The longing for the next long weekend is so strong it will pervasively occupy your mind for the next two to three days. So here are the tips that I hope could help you motivate yourself to go back to work with a positive attitude.

1. If you have a webmail access to your office emails, try to check before you sleep. This can give you a feel of ‘get back to work’ mindset. This will make you aware of the pending works and necessary tasks needed to be done and to get yourself out of the vacation mode. This will also help you determine if there is an urgent thing to be done immediately when you return so that you won’t get surprised when you open your inbox the moment you arrived in the office.

2. Go shop for a new office stuff like a notebook, ball-pen, new organizer or office mug, or if you have a money to spend, buy a new gadget that can enhance your work, or a new office clothe/attire. Sometimes, new items can motivate us to go to work as we are eager to use it or start our day with a new stuff on our table.

3. No matter how tough it is, think about this – you need to work to survive. Find the inspiration again – are you working to save money for a new car or to pay for a rent? Are you working because you need to pay your debts or to help in your household expenses? Are you aiming for an extra income for you to spend in your next holiday vacation? Remember our mind is very powerful, it can make us think of lazy thoughts so the best way to counter this is find that goal or inspiration again.

4. Sleep. Listen to your iPod or read a book, this will make you feel relaxed and settled.

5. Organize yourself, fix your wardrobe, iron your clothes or fix your bags, try to rearrange your usual stuff order. You have to get yourself excited to work.

So there, the best thing you should do is to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Getting your mind out of the vacation mode but as soon as you feel the reality biting back at you, there is no way of turning back.

Happy easter!

Friday, April 4, 2014

How to take better photos (or successful selfie) using your smartphones.

I used to own two digital cameras, a Nikon D3000 and a Canon S100. I love the latter as it takes superb pictures without the heaviness of a DSLR. It's a point-and-shoot camera but it can take DSLR-quality photos. I sold both cameras for monetization purposes and felt guilty after that. I felt like I invested so much on these gadgets and eventually failed to make the most out of it. But it didn't take so long for me to move on.

Then came the smartphone. The advent of iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones paved the way to the evolution of digital photography. Digital camera once ruled the market because it ultimately killed one of the greatest limitation of photography - film. People suddenly became obsessed with speed to process kind of photography. Gone were the days of patiently waiting for the development of films. We wanted to see photos seconds after we took it. Smartphones eventually make this desire even more possible and digital cameras are now suffering noticeable decline in sales as smartphones become more and more sophisticated and at par with digital camera's photo quality.

Summer is officially officially here and this season can also be synonymous with the word vacation. And vacation implies adventure or travel and travel requires endless captures of beautiful moments.

It's time to take your precious smartphone and get it into shooting action and follow these steps on how to take better photos or selfie.

1. CLEAN YOUR LENS: A lot of people take this for granted. A lot of our grainy and blurry shots are by-products of smudged lenses and even smartphone cases that block the lenses and the light that illuminates your subject. A lot of bulky smartphone cases would prevent your lenses to be touched by your hand and will make it susceptible to smudges but it could also give more shadows and improper lighting to the subjects so better yet choose a perfect casing that doesn't give your lens so much trouble.

2. LIGHTING IS AS BASIC AS TAKING THE SHOT: A lot of people are not wary of the quality of photos they share. They don't mind if their photos or selfies are grainy or dark as long as they can share any picture on a regular basis. While we love to see your freedom of expression, do also recognize the fact that there are a lot of photo enthusiasts out there who has an eye for details and consider bad photos as an inevitable pet-peeve. Low-light condition yields grainy photos, and a lot (or maybe even ALL) of smartphone nowadays has a poor ISO-settings and couldn't adjust to low-light conditions. You have to find the best spot where there is a better source of light or better yet use a flash (though it will make your shot less natural and even more dark as recent smartphones are still lacking a true-tone or even a dependable flash.)

Harness the power of natural lighting.
I love taking outdoor photos because sunlight is a perfect illuminator.

3. BY ALL MEANS, KEEP YOUR HANDS STEADY: You cannot bring a tripod every time, so it will take a significant amount of patience to take a quality photo. Blurry shots are courtesy of a shaking hand. So practice taking a shot with a steady-arm. Relax your muscles and refrain from doing unnecessary movements. It wouldn't take a minute to take a shot so please keep your fingers from trembling.

A lot of people also don't know that smartphones allow you to use your physical volume keys as an alternative shutter. This is much recommended as this would give you a more relax arm positions and it will eventually give you better shots. Try it. In fact, you can also use your headset volume keys as a shutter (this is for iPhone by the way)

4. ENABLE THE HIGH-RES, DON'T BE TOO OBSESSED WITH BUILT-IN FILTERS: Instagram helped us to transform our mediocre photos into share-worthy pieces of art. Admit it, you have your favorite filters, and choosing the right filter can be very stressful sometimes. The best thing to do is actually not to use a filter. High-quality photos, taken using a high-res settings with a perfect exposure and proper lighting are still better than an over-filtered shot.

Use a dependable photo-editing app. My favorite is Adobe Photoshop Express (Free) and iPhoto ($4.99 in Apple Store) because both has capability to tweak contrast, exposure, saturation, brightness and color in a user-friendly manner. That's all you need to create a stunning photo with the help of post-processing apps.

No filter. Closer to subject. Natural light. Used volume key as a shutter and in HDR (High-Def Resolution)

5. MACRO, RESTRAINT IN ZOOM, TAP SUBJECT TO ILLUMINATE: My apologies but this tip is inclined towards iPhone users. I have to express my preference because I have been using an iPhone for three years now and I believe it's an excellent camera phone. If you are using an iPhone, be aware that it has a capability to shoot in macro (if you're not sure about this, take a look at the photo below)

Took this using an iPhone 5. Used Early Bird filter in IG. Adjusted the color saturation a bit in Adobe Photoshop Express. Who says you can't practice depth of field in smartphone

Please don't abuse your digital zoom tool also. It has a threshold and there is a marker that informs you that you are already zooming to a maximum distance. You can use your feet to get closer to a subject if you wish to get a clearer shot.

Also in iPhone, you can tap an area before taking a shot in order to illuminate it better. Use it if you wish to lighten a shadowy/dark area but be patient enough as it doesn't give you a better lighting most of the time.

There you go, I bet there are more tips and tricks out there but the most important tip is to shoot to express and not to impress. Instagram used to be a photo-sharing app but now it has instantly transformed into an online shop or a selfie depository. Harness the power of your smartphone camera to produce a stunning photo worthy of being shared.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Old Navy Opens New Branch in BGC - Bonifacio High Street

Store Specialists Inc. has brought another successful brand in the Philippines. Old Navy opened their newest store in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City last March 22, 2014. It is located right across Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street. The site used to be the flagship store of Muji and GAP and it occupies three floors. The ground floor area is dedicated for the Women's items, the second floor is for the kids and the third is for the Men's section. I immediately went to the third floor of course :)

Old Navy offers great selection of men's t-shirts and short sleeves polos. They have a good selection of chambrays too. I went to the store to look for the camo pants I saw online but much to my dismay, my object of affection is not available :(

Hope to get you very soon.....

 I only have a few minutes to roam around the store to catch my next meeting so I managed to sneak a few clicks to show you how the store looks like and some of the clothes they have in the rack so far.

The Verdict: If you are a fan of Uniqlo and Cotton On or Forever 21 or American Eagle Outfitters, those new retail brands on the block, you will not find anything interesting with Old Navy. It offers the same style and it has the same vibe to it.

The Price: Ranges around Php 1250-1950 for slacks and pants and cargo shorts. Plimsolls at Php 1,250 (good buy!) and tshirts at Php 400+ each. Competitive though :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

10 Things To Let Go This 2014

Every new year brings us to a new heights and challenges to be better individuals. 2013 has been a challenging year for all Filipinos and 2014 for sure is going to bring the same adversities and challenges. I do believe that every year carries the same ups and down, it is the people who are responsible to make the difference year on year.

This year, I would like to share a handful of things I would like to give up to make myself more happy and fulfilled. I am now a firm believer of harnessing the power of thought by putting it in concrete writing or recording. Documenting your ideas and thoughts makes it more potent and achievable.

Here we go:

1. Giving up on small deals that eventually consumes a high portion of my monthly budget. Come to think of it, every cup of Starbucks coffee that I buy every morning costs Php 135 (that's a tall warm sugar-free vanilla latte with non-fat milk), multiply it by five then by four would cost me a grand total of Php 2,700 coffee spent on a monthly basis. There is a sure possibility that I would be buying another cup of coffee on weekends and an extra cup on a day if there is an inevitable occasion. Those supplemental buys would yield an approximate additional coffee spent of around Php 300-500 every month, bringing my approximate coffee spent monthly grand total to a whopping Php 3,000. You won't see this sad realization everyday. It will take a bitter pill to swallow to fathom the sad fact that Starbucks is getting richer everyday while we fall into the trap of "looking cool because I can buy a latte from the Sbux". And the grand irony of it all is that I am a certified acidic and my stomach composition refuses the entry of any acidic compounds in its territory. I am putting this item on top because of its sheer importance and indispensability.

2. Giving up on unorganized trips and reckless field call itineraries. As a salesman, my work routine is heavily centered on client meetings and field calls. I am bound to meet my clients on their premises and it requires me to be out of the office most of the time. I am giving up on unnecessary and unprecedented client calls. I hereby certify that I am making use of my time more wisely and professionaly. This would eventually save me not only my precious time but also a significant amount of money. Learn to say no on irrelevant calls and only agree on important engagements. Start early, work hard and leave early.

3. Giving up on so much social media use and focus more on blogging and work emails. There are so much distractions last year. With the advent of so many social media platforms and technologies, the amount of time spent on dealing with corporate matters has been significantly reduced. I have been less-productive last year probably because of owning new gadgets and technologies that makes me want to research more new information. I realized the sad impact of this complacency by earning low-marks in my quarterly target and getting a horrific red-card for not meeting my goals. It was truly a a big wake-up call and I am not letting any distraction prevent myself from doing my work conscientiously. If there is one online thing that I would devote more time this year, it would be blogging since I've been wanting to invest on this skill for more than a decade already.

4. Giving up on shopping for myself. This year, I would like to shop more, not for me this time but for my family. For so many years I have been enjoying the fruits of my labor by spending so much on clothes, gadgets, travels, etc. for myself and very less for my parents. I do give money to them but I feel like I have been focusing so much on improving myself rather than the life of my providers. I feel like I owe them a huge favor and I have been ignoring their basic needs lately. I am attending to their basic necessities but I feel like I am lacking in the luxury department. I am blessed to have parents who have managed to work hard during their younger years in order to be sustainable when we reach our independent-hood, but that doesn't give me the privilege to be ignorant of my moral responsibility to be a good son by giving back to them. Check!

5. Giving up on complaining, stressing-out and anxiety. 2013 has been a stressful year. With the huge changes happening in my life lately, it has significantly increased my anxiety levels and affected my temperament. I became more hot-headed, illogical and worrisome, I have been thinking too much of the uncertain rather than getting into facts and trusting my instincts more. This year, I will be more wiser, I will use more of my wisdom and faith rather than hunches and fears. Will trust more of the Lord rather than my own understanding.

6. Giving up on quantity. I have been suffering from 'the more the merrier' syndrome. It has become a habit to hoard more rather than buy quality items that would last longer and eventually save me more money in the long run. I vow buy new set of clothes for this year, it would be less but it will be more durable and the quality will stand the test of time. Though it will be more expensive, I believe this would be more practical. This would also apply to foods that I will buy.

7. Giving up on too much talking. Contrary to the beliefs of many, I am not a shy-person. Once I get the hang of my environment I could be a loose cannon. I am noisy and boisterous. I love to talk and talk and talk and it makes me tired also. It consumes a huge amount of my energey and it turns me away from important matters to deal with first. It is a disease that I should control and harness and use it in a more relevant purpose. A little less conversation and more action please. Amen!

8. Giving up on being hasty and reckless. There is a pressing need to be more cautious and disciplinary. My weakness is to be more fast than accurate. The effect of this desire to be constantly ahead is affecting the quality of my work. I have been committing a lot of mistakes and tiny errors that later on become mess and chaos, some of it irreparable some of it are very difficult to patch. This year, I would endeavor to be more cautious on my steps and understand the value of proofreading and control.

9. Giving up on unhealthy lifestyle. I implore the guidance of the divine to help me withstand this difficult tribulation.

10. Giving up on mediocrity. I would no longer be a child this year but a responsible adult who has a full control of his life. I would be more practical and efficient, constantly striving for excellence, I will look forward to success rather than the mere completion of events.

2014, I won't ask you to be kind on me. Rather I would try my very best to be a good boy for you.

So help me God.