Category Archives: Day-to-Day Productivity

What I learned from taking the WRONG train

I was coming home on the subway (underground train system in Toronto), reading a book. It’s around a half hour train ride from downtown to my station, so I “feel” it’s time to start wrapping up. Looked up outside the window, the colors and ambience seems off…it was different.

Wrong Subway

Wrong Subway

“Arriving at Islington station,” I hear from the loudspeakers.

Realization. I got on the opposite train and arrived at the “West End”. Add 1-hour to the train ride because I was going the wrong direction for 30minutes.

Crap! was my initial reaction, but then it turned into a smile, then a light chuckle as I looked back at the paperback book in my hand; Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly

Obviously, I had to now run out and get over to the other train…

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow is about that feeling you get when you’re totally “into” something, and you have almost no sense of your surroundings. Like a NASCAR racer going 200MPH is hyper-focus because one mistake can smash his car, having one of those “super- salahs” (probably during Ramadan) where you’re listening for the meaning of verses, etc. or even when you’re researching online and keep at it for hours without notice.

We’ve all experienced it, but mostly out of fluke rather than consciously putting all our focus in and keeping distractions out.

Dr. Csikszentmihaly (pronounce that name) says, “the mark of a person who is in control of consciousness is the ability to focus attention at will, to be oblivious to distractions, to concentrate as long as it takes to achieve a goal, and not longer. And that person who can do this usually enjoys the normal course of everyday life”

 

The ability to focus attention at will” – that’s talking about a skill you can develop, not random moments of inspiration.

Few other factors that come into play, in a nutshell, are: Challenge and Practice. There has to be some challenge in completing the task, it’s not happening while you wash 3 dishes. For the salah example, it’s way different if you’re just going through the motions for Isha by yourself than praying at the masjid and the imam starts reciting a surah you’re currently trying to memorize. As for practice, “It is not enough to know how to do it; one must do it”.

Why it Amused Me

It was very interesting to me that I entered the flow state while reading the book Flow. See there’s a lot of noise and movement on the subway, but I’ve been waiting to finally read this book and tuned it out. I was also practicing to increase my reading speed, trying to break the 400wpm (words per minute) block.

On top of that, the announcements went out for all 14 stops (twice for each one actually), I didn’t realize anything until it felt like my stop (Warden Station, opposite end that train).

In any case, the extra hour did help me finish like a quarter of the book.

Results

I recently visited my notes on the book and put some of it to use.

Mainly, picking out a task that needs focus for at least an hour straight and is interesting enough that clock-checking isn’t needed. It resulted in finally editing and restarting on making videos. (Of course, also writing a blog post after a year…)

Click here to watch on YouTube

Did the part about Flow make sense?

It’s kind of an abstract concept…

3 Investments for the “GoodLife”

[Read Time: 4 minutes]

Overview: 3 Investments are: Time, Patience, and Life into Life

Invest with Time

It’s paradoxical; you’ll need to put in time (loss) so you can increase the value of time in your future (gain).

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Flyyy

Flyyy

2 Examples:

Walking - progress is linear (it’s in small bits and doesn’t get bigger or anything)

Catapult – Like flying there in 3 days vs walking for 3 months)

The hard part with a catapult is the set up.

For walking, it is easier and within the comfort zone…that’s why it’s the easier choice as well.

BUT here’s the thing, struggles and hardships will ALWAYS exist…when aren’t they there? You can either work hard once and reap the rewards than work hard throughout and reap (lesser and more delayed) rewards

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Here’s what I did recently; it was during assignment times and I still took 2 hrs out to attend an interview. My justification was that it’ll give me a boost and increase motivation to finish the assignments so then I can move on to other stuff…and alhamdulillah it was the smarter decision

Part of my personal game-plan is to continuously feed my mind to keep it ripe n fresh – that’s something any student, professional, home-maker can adapt.

This could mean a bunch of things for you :

  • If you’re tired all the time then maybe you’re not tired, you’re just BORED
  • Sometimes when the progress in life is next to nothing, read a new book, research something you’re interested in, enroll in a class, spend quality time with important people, help somebody else etc.
  • Start hitting the gym or pick up an old sport you used to love to keep physical shape

One way or another, create that zest for life and a love for living - not like an attachment to dunya love, rather excellence towards the akhira.

Invest with Patience

Y’know that interview I mentioned, it was of Lisa Gabriele (Canadian author and executive producer of the show “Dragon’s Den”) held at University of Toronto. One of the points about writing stood out to me, “most aren’t willing to just sit and wait…and then start.”

Sometimes all it takes is a bit of patience and you’ll get yourself through the project, exam, bumps in a relationship, writing an article on time management :D

Be patient with yourself, and be confident in the fruits of that patience Continue reading

Edu-tainment For Real

Check it out:

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Abdullah KidShow – new “killer” kid show; check it out + share + enjoy some more   — Made by Leechon Films and EgyptianGumbo

Kalimaat - Board Game by Baba Ali

Edu-tainment Article – 3 Ways for Time Well “Wasted”

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Microwave Tips: Desktop CleanUp

Microwave Tips = Quick Tips on Time Management; learn fast and implement immediately.

[Read Time >> 45 seconds]

What’s on your computer desktop?

Desktop CleanUp

Desktop CleanUp

Few folders and icons or a mess.

I for one usually had a messy computer desktop,that people see and go “woo…”

So here are 3 things that can be done about it:

1 – How do things get there?

  • Do you put everything there because you “may” need it someday?
  • Is that where all downloaded files go?
  • You think it makes you look important :P

2 – Temporary solution

  • Create a folder that just says “Desktop Stuff” so whatever your reasoning is, you can still use it in the folder
  • Create a folder saying “NOW” in case your current projects and tasks clog it up

3 – Resolve for good

  • Send things to their place from the beginning; when installing, downloading, saving
  • Have a separate place for downloaded files, so they skip your desktop
  • Delete – Delete – Delete; sometimes I dig deep into my computer and some junk makes me think “what was I thinking?” – so get rid of the junk and think twice before putting more in there.

Bonus: On Windows and there’s a way to put icons into the bottom toolbar thingy, so keep the commonly used icons there.

Done


Quiet on the Blog Front

[Read Time >> 1.5 minutes]

It’s been way too long – nothing has been posted on this site.

Problem = lack of system = slow or no progress

What happened?

  • 2 weeks ago I completed a T4T vid (with the editing help of Mahfooz) but didn’t post it because I wanted to finish the other stuff
  • 1 week ago I made a video…but it was on my sister’s computer and then she took her laptop home
  • This week I made a video, but o look my laptop is pretty garbage so it can’t “handle” video editing
  • Software didn’t install at uni, couldn’t borrow my sister’s for few hours and now I finally figured “Why not use my dad’s work laptop that’s lying in the very next room!”

Now I’m sitting here with two 95% and one 60% completed tasks but nothing to show for. However, now I’m working on bringing them all to 100%…

@Workstation

@Workstation

Solution and my Future Plan

Create systems – a process to follow from start to finish with Continue reading

T4T – SERIOUS Alarm

T4T = Tools for Time (Management)

Watch the 1st video of the upgraded Tools for Time Management series: SERIOUS Alarm


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1) Watch it

2) Comment - What’s the best tool to wake YOU up?

3) Subscribe on YouTube

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Microwave Tips: 3 Step Email Cleanup

Microwave Tips = Quick Tips on Time Management; learn fast and implement immediately.

[Read Time >> 45 seconds]

Inbox Cleanup

Email Cleanup

If you’re like most people, then your email inbox is becoming more and more important to you. It’s great for communication, but  it can eat into your time.

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The Tip:

Spend just 3-5 minutes, look how your inbox is set up and simplify it.

Step 1:

  • How many emails do you get per day?
  • Do you have filters and folders in place?
  • Are there junk emails or useless subscriptions?

Step 2:

  • Unsubscribe from useless subscriptions (even Islamic stuff, just keep what you read and not what you “plan” to read)

Step 3:

  • Create Filters and folders so you can easily categorize emails, instead of clogging up your inbox

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You don’t have to create ALL your filters in one shot. Maybe do this twice a week for 2 weeks and you’re good.

Personal recommendation: Use Gmail (Google is Fantastic!)

Lemme know your thoughts + your ideas on this in the comments section below…

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Time “Well” Wasted – Best Places [Part II]

Time "Well" Wasted - Best Places

Time "Well" Wasted - Best Places

[Part I here]

We can’t always be on high gear right?

So recovery and taking breaks are critical to being productive.

This is for good for when you’re in between tasks, just taking your mind off things, or simply learning something interesting.

============= Here are THE BEST PLACES FOR TIME “WELL” WASTED

Videos:

YouTube – Edu-tainment: (Educational and Entertaining)

@GoogleTalks – presentations by various experts; authors, leaders, marketers, politicians etc.

*iGNiTe - Spreading the Knowledge of Innovators, 5 minute presentations on many things.  (I ‘discovered’ it recently and it’s fantastic)

*Leechon Films – dawah vids (super-trailers for AlMaghrib Institute, speeches etc.) social media training, other good stuff with ma man Belal Khan

*UmmahFilms – with short reminder videos by “Baba Ali” and interesting projects he’s working on

KhalifaKlothing - Islamic lectures, dawah videos etc.

YouTube – The Fun & The Funny:

*FailBlog - oh man, one of the best channels there :D

*Happy Tree Friends – short cartoons; looks can be deceiving…

Websites:

*TED - Ideas Worth Spreading – a wealth of knowledge by world renowned experts, high quality and short presentations (One of my favorites)

BetterDaysTV.net – Self Improvement videos Continue reading