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The Daily Routine that Killed Me – An End-of-Year Panic.

I got up early this morning –  I snoozed my alarm one time less than usual. But otherwise, it was pretty much the same. Everyday, I pray, get ready  and leave for work, or work from home.   I spend time in school. I pray in between. I go to bed. I already know my story for today.

It is Thanksgiving.   My last big shopping spree seemed to have been only recently. But much to my consternation, I realized today with a gulp  – it was much earlier. It was last year on Black Friday. Somehow a year flew by. 365 days.

Everyday seemed the same.  But time flew by. An entire year slipped away, and a year later, so much is different, not entirely in ways I would have liked.  It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of infinite time, and go about the daily routine. This was a recipe for failure, in terms of long-term goals.

 It was intriguing how, through the daily routine of everyday where everything seemed the same, somehow there was so much difference a year later even if I was seriously lagging behind in achieving my goals.  I sat back to think about it. I don’t laugh at the same jokes. I’m not hurt by the same things.  I’m not attracted to or seek the same things.
I’m less religious. I have a feeling that God does not answer my prayers as before. I am less motivated to volunteer. I haven’t read books as much as I used to. My academic performances have dipped. I surround myself with a very different group of people. I am at the crossroads in my career more unsure of   my career than a year back.
But there were positive changes too. I love my family more than ever before, I miss those not around me more than I used to a year back. I am more spiritual in my approach towards things. I have memorized more of The Noble Quran and understand it better. I am closer to achieving my long-term goals than ever before, even if by a smaller margin than I would have liked for one full year. I am more outgoing than before, I talk to more people and have had some success in breaking free of my shyness with new people. I have consolidated some of my old friendships, and it pleases me to know they love me and wish well for me, despite knowing all of my weaknesses and failings.

 I now spend time tracking my progress on my long-term goals. I have a group of friends assigned to keep reminding me of them. There is no better way of thanking God for the time He gives us than by making it count.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Habits that Will Change your Life

Here is an article that was shared on a social networking website by someone I know. I found the advices here so good,  I knew immediately I had to start taking some of these seriously, and of course, share it with my folks. Interestingly, many of them featured in my own list I came up with a few months ago in a not-so public post on this blog – I will try to edit them in into this post as and when I get time.

This is an ‘uncopyrighted’ article, and so there is (apparently) no harm in reproducing it :) . You can find the original article HERE.

Developing good habits is the basic of personal development and growth. Everything we do is the result of a habit that was previously taught to us. Unfortunately, not all the habits that we have are good, that’s why we are constantly trying to improve.

The following is a list of 30+ practical habits that can make a huge difference in your life.

You should treat this list as a reference, and implement just one habit per month. This way you will have the time to fully absorb each of them, while still seeing significant improvements each month.

Islamic Habits

1.Pray 5 times a day. From pre-sunrise, to the afternoon, evening, the after-sunset and the night  prayers. It  takes just 15 minutes each time. And this is related to 4. and 6. from the  Productivity  and Personality development  habits down below.

2.Read the Qur’an and it’s translation/commentary every day for 15 minutes, after the early morning,  pre-sunrise prayer. Wonderful way to start the day, with guidance from the Sustainer of the worlds. Helps you make a good and positive frame of mind for the rest of the day.

Health habits

  1. Exercise 30 minutes every day. Especially if you don’t do much movement while working, it’s essential that you get some daily exercise. 30 minutes every day are the minimum recommended for optimal health.
  2. Eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is the more important meal of the day, yet so many people skip it. Personally, I like to eat a couple of toasts in the morning along with a fruit beverage.
  3. Sleep 8 hours. Sleep deprivation is never a good idea. You may think that you are gaining time by sleeping less, when in reality you are only gaining stress and tiredness. 8 hours are a good number of hours for most people, along with an optional 20 minutes nap after lunch.
  4. Avoid snacking between meals. Snacking between meals is the best way to gain weight. If you are hungry, eat something concrete. Otherwise don’t. Update: for clarification, I mean don’t eat junk food between meals, but eating real food it’s ok.
  5. Eat five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. Our body and brain loves getting vegetables and fruit, so I highly recommend eating as much of them as possible. Five portions is the dose that’s usually recommended by many health associations.
  6. Eat fish. Fish is rich of omega 3 and other healthy elements. At least one meal per week of fish should be enough for getting all these nutrients.
  7. Drink one glass of water when you wake up. When you wake up, your body is dehydrated and needs liquid. Make the habit of drinking one glass of water after you wake up in the morning. Also, drink more during the day.
  8. Avoid soda. Soda is often one of the most unhealthy beverage you can find. Limit your consumption of soda as much as possible and you’re body will be grateful for that.
  9. Keep your body clean. I don’t advise spending your day in front of the mirror, but a minimum of personal care does never hurt.
  10. If you smoke, stop it. There’s no reason to smoke anymore, and quitting is easy.
  11. If you drink, stop it. Same as above. Don’t think that alcohol will solve your problems. It never does. The only exception is one glass of wine per day during meals.
  12. Take the stairs. This is just a hack that forces you to do a minimum of exercise. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs.

Productivity habits

  1. Use an inbox system. Make the habit of keeping track of all the ideas and things that comes to mind. You can use a notebook to do this, and then sync everything on your computer.
  2. Prioritize. If you have a list of things to do, where do you start? One way is to prioritize your list. If you are in doubt, ask yourself: “If I could only accomplish one thing today, what would it be?”
  3. Plan, but not too much. Planning is important, and you should decide in advance what you are going to do today or this week. However, planning for more than a few weeks is usually inefficient, so I would not worry too much about that.
  4. Wake up early. Waking up early in the morning is a great way to gain extra time. I personally like to wake up at 5 am, so that by 9 am I have already accomplished what otherwise would have taken me many days..
  5. Check your email only twice per day. Email can easily become an addiction, but it’s usually unnecessary to check it every 10 minutes. Make an effort and check your email only once or twice per day, see if the world will still rotate as before after you try this.
  6. Eliminate unimportant tasks. Being busy all day does not mean you are doing important stuff. Eliminate every activity that’s not important, and focus on what really matters.
  7. Clean off your desk and room. Having a clear room and desk is important to maintain focus and creativity.
  8. Automate. There are a lot of tasks that you need to perform every day or every week. Try to automate them as much as possible.
  9. Set strict deadlines. When you do something, decide in advance when you’re going to stop. There’s a rule that states that you will fulfill all the time you have available for completing a task, so make an habit of setting strict deadlines for maximizing your productivity.
  10. Take one day off per week. Instead of working every day, take one day off per week (for example sunday) where you are not going to turn on your computer. Use that time for doing recreational activities like going for a walk.

Personal Development habits

  1. Read 1 book per week. Reading is a good way to keep your brain active. With just 30 minutes per day you should be able to read one book per week, or more than 50 books per year.
  2. Solve puzzles. Quizzes, word games, etc. are all good ways to exercise your brain.
  3. Think positively. You are what you think, all the time.
  4. Make fast decisions. Instead of thinking for one hour wherever you are going to do something, make your decisions as fast as possible (usually less than 1 minute).
  5. Wait before buying. Waiting 48 hours before buying anything is a tremendous money saver, try it.
  6. Meditate 30 minutes per day. A great way to gain clearness and peace is through meditation. 30 minutes are not a lot, but enough to get you started with meditation. ( Note by me – Islamic prayers 5 times a day, and the reading of the Qur’an make it 90 minutes a day. This is our version of ‘meditation’. Tremendous peace and tranquility is what I experience when I do it at least. )

Career habits

  1. Start a blog. Blogging is one of the best way to put your word out. It doesn’t have to be around a specific topic, even a personal blog will do.
  2. Build a portfolio. If your job is creating stuff, building a portfolio is a great way to show what you are capable of. You can also contribute stuff for free if that applies to your work.

What do you think? What are the habits that changed your life?