Month: June 2011

Overview of June’s posts

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So the month started with a background story to “The Day Akela Died,” giving out some information on what inspired the story. Also I provided a sneak peek on what stories would be coming up soon inshaAllah. If you haven’t received your copy, make sure to check it out here.

Then we discussed a bit on The Masks People Wear, and that brought on a lot of comments from readers who connected with that post, leading to a compilation of comments on The Masks People Wear – Comments. Then I disappeared for 11 days and returned with a post that was not exactly that popular titled the Effects of More Facebook-Like Inventions. The topic came up once when my friend and I had one of the longest chat ever that stretched to the wee hours of the morning. But you can tell from the many comments – or lack thereof – that people’s interest was not piqued enough…or maybe, people other than RetireWannabee didn’t have anything to contribute with.

The next post was Passionate about Your Work? and people did have a lot to say on that one. Following that was a transition from job issues to relationship issues on Relationships Worth Fighting for and Family Worth Fighting For. And finally the month ended with some productivity tools to help you keep track of things such as time, goals, religious obligations and writing, in 6 Cool Tools to Help You Keep Track.

It has been quite an interesting month I must say and even though I wasn’t as productive as I should have been, but reader’s contributions on my blog made up for that. Thank you all for continuously supporting and sharing this blog. Thank you for all your comments, and emails, and twitter retweets.

The journey is not over, and if you’re wondering what I have planned for next month inshaAllah, check this out…

6 Cool Tools to Help You Keep Track

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So today, I thought of sharing with you some of the tools I personally use to keep track of certain actions/goals in my life. I’ve always been an avid reader in the field of Goal Setting and Personal Development. The very first book I read on this was the Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. I always found it quite interesting how we as Muslims have so many jewels in our religion and yet we don’t really use it or utilize it, when other people sit, study and work hard to come up with “discoveries” that have been part of our lives for a long time. For example, a lot of these books state that the biggest motivation for achieving something can be found in ‘gaining pleasure or running away from pain’, and if you think about it, when we’re told to do good deeds and avoid bad, it’s either to go to Heaven – gaining pleasure – or stay away from Hell – running away from pain – in the Hereafter.  Then some people say that to make sure that a habit sticks, you have to continuously do it for 30 days, which makes you think of the discipline gained through the Holy Month of Ramadan. In the Magic of thinking Big, the author spoke about the importance of smiling, and it’s Sunnah to smile. There are many other examples, so in short, we can enjoy our lives without much of the Westerners’ philosophies. However it’s really interesting if you’re seeking knowledge pertaining human psychology, and to read on modern methods and tools to improve your life.

Productivity Tip #1: Keep Track

So one way to discipline yourself to achieving results you’d desire is to keep track of everything. If you want to lose weight, you’d keep track of the number of hours you spend in the gym. If you want to do well in school, you’d keep track of the time you spend studying. If you want to be more productive, you’d want to keep track – and minimize – the time wasted on social networks such as Facebook. If you want to manage your money, you’d want to keep track of your expenses. So without further ado, here are the tools I personally use;

1) Excel Sheet. What can be more efficient than a properly labeled excel sheet? You can add tables of hours spent working, hours spent in the gym, money spent, and then it’s just simple maths…

Okay, I know that was no brainer, but other things I like to outsource such as…

2) 750words.com. To keep track of the words I freewrite, I use 750words.com. By freewriting, I mean unconstrained, unedited writing. I normally track my proper writing on tool # 1. The cool thing about 75owords is that it disciplines you, and personally, a lot of blog ideas come out of the rubbish I post there daily.

3) QamarDeen.This is a really cool iphone application to record your prayers, Quraan reading, charity and fasting. You can easily download it from the app store. More on it here. I first read about it on Dxbgirl’s blog.

4) Toggl.com. This helps you keep track of time. Personally, I haven’t started using it yet, but I would like…when I have the time.

5) Goodreads.com helps you keep track of books you’re reading or want to read. It helps you connect with  your friends so you can check their bookshelves and reviews on books. It’s quite useful though I have to admit I don’t update my profile that often.

6) A notebook and pencil to keep track of your ideas throughout the day. Technically, any idea-capturing device would do; a voice recorder, an email to yourself, phone notes….

What other tools do you like to use to help yourself be productive?

A Family Worth Fighting For

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An excerpt from “From Sarah With Pain” (a by-now-very-dead project I worked on back in 2008);

You know, once upon a time, I used to love the word ‘family’ until I discovered that most family members took their kinship for granted; people who think that they have the right to hurt somebody just because they are related to them; people who stamp on each other for the sake of materialistic gains; people who no longer respect the word, ‘family’, and maybe I am the same, but I’m neither the first person nor the person to be like that.

Following up on Relationships worth fighting for, let’s focus today on family. The equations of family relationships are supposed to be the easiest in the sense that you tend to carry unconditional love for people who are related to you by blood, right? Also in Islam, upholding the ties of kinship is obligatory, and it is explained by the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “The one who maintains a relationship with his relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even if they break off the relationship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5645). [1]

When people are younger, they may respect the word ‘family,’ defending their siblings when they get into trouble so they end up into trouble together, but as they grow older something happens. Maybe it has something to do with “Familiarity Breeds Contempt” (or to be more exact, “Family Breeds Contempt”). Maybe other people enter the equation in the form of wives-husbands-in-laws and result in disequilibrium. Or maybe they decide to put their money together in the form of a family business, which puts one of two things at risk; either the business or the relationship. Or maybe they just grow up and grow apart, developing their different personalities that act like sodium and water, so that the status of the relationship disintegrates with time.

Whatever the reason, I don’t think it’s justified, because in the end family is family, and upholding ties of kinship is a religious kinship.

Quote ;  “I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.

[1]http://islamqa.com/en/ref/12292/kinship

Relationships Worth Fighting For?

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The other day I read a very interesting quote on my twitter feed. Somebody had posted, “You fight with the most important people in your life because those are the relationships worth fighting for.”

It made me think, how true is that statement?

Think about it. When two people find themselves in a heated argument, screaming angry words at each other about how “you are wrong, and I am right” does that necessarily translate to being dentrimental to their relationship? Or could arguing actually be healthy for their relationships?

Successful relationships are based on mutual respect, trust and honest two-way communication. Depending on the situation, honest two-way communication could also mean arguments or “constructive debates” (analogous to constructive feedback).

In biology, it is known that tear ducts produce tears to clean, moisten and lubricate the eyes. That keeps the eyes in good shape. Similarly, arguments can be healthy to some relationships. People may let out their negative feelings about each other be known. As a result of that, the other person knows if there is a habit that bugs you so they could change it. It helps clean the air between them, and weed out any misunderstandings that could exist between them. Also after the argument, if the relationship survives, then the two people have a new reference point to which they can point and say, “If we survived that, then we could survive the next argument.”

Plus from my experience, there are some people are amazingly unaware of things like hints, or codes or diplomatic talk, especially guys (sorry guys). They need to be told things explicitly in detailed steps; 1, 2, 3…and if you miss a step then you lose them. So if you really think about it, arguments could be used to keep a relationship healthy.

But what if arguments don’t necessarily patch up relationships? What if the relationship slowly erodes with every argument until the day something major happens and the relationship goes to a point of no-return. This usually happens when people don’t play by the rules of a healthy argument. When a ‘healthy’ argument ends, both sides need to learn the lesson that they needed to take from that argument and ‘move on’. In other words, they need to delete the argument permanently and not bring it up over and over again in future arguments. Bringing it up again is what makes the argument harmful to the relationship.

At least, that’s one way of looking at it, what do you think? Do you think that arguments could be healthy or are they always damaging?