25 May 2012

How to Stay Productive In the Summer Heat!

How to Stay Productive In the Summer Heat!

How to Stay Productive In the Summer Heat!

In the sweltering heat of the summer months, it can become very difficult to stay productive during the day. The sun, humidity, and sweat seems to simply drain our energy and we feel lazy and lethargic – we just want to lie down with a cold lemonade and do nothing at all.

The good news is that you’re not alone. Research has shown the detrimental effect of heat on productivity; here are a couple of interesting studies:

1. Office workers who were exposed to temperatures of 75°F for keyboard tasks showed a reduction in their productivity of up to 40 or 50% compared to their peers at cooler temperatures for the same tasks and with the same clothing.

2. In another experiment, normally-clothed young people were asked to perform mental tasks. They were most comfortable at 80.5°F, however they exerted the least amount of effort and did the least work at this temperature. They performed the most work at 68°F.

So how exactly do we fight the lazy summer days and stay productive in the middle of the heat?
Here are some practical tips on how to take the heat:
1. Try to get the most demanding work done in the early hours of the day, ideally after Fajr until mid-morning (around 10am). It is especially to get your work done at these cooler, early hours if your work involves doing tasks outdoors.

2. Avoid going outside in the middle of the day when temperatures are at their highest point. You want to avoid getting a sun burn, sun stroke, or feeling extremely fatigued upon returning home. It is known from the seerah that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to delay Dhuhur prayer in the hot summer months to wait for the heat to calm down. On the authority of Abu Dhar, he said: “We were on a journey with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Mu’adhin (caller to Prayer) wanted to call the Adhan for the Zhuhr Prayer. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Let it get cooler.’ He again wanted to call the Adhan, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, ‘Let it get cooler,’ until we saw the shadows of the hillocks become equal to their sizes. The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said: ‘The severity of heat is dispersed from Hellfire, so when the temperature gets very hot, pray (the Dhuhr Prayer) when it becomes cooler.” (Al-Bukhari)

3. Drink lots and lots of water, and eat lots of summer fruit (melons, berries, etc). Carry a water bottle and cup with you to stay hydrated and mentally fresh throughout the day. Don’t forget to drink in sips rather than big gulps and also refresh yourself with plenty of summer fruits.

4. Reduce the usage of air-conditioning devices in your life. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but the constant use of A/C in every part of our life (car, home, office, masjid) makes us less adaptable and tolerant of the summer heat. Moreover, it is quite unhealthy for our bodies to adjust from boiling heat outside to freezing air conditioning indoors, within a matter of seconds! I’ve recently tried to minimize my use of air-conditioning and to be honest, it doesn’t feel too bad and I feel healthier in fact.
Here are some tips to reduce A/C in your life (also, you’ll reduce your electric bill!):
• Do wudhu with cold water; wash your hands and face with cold water; take a cold shower.
• Cool your room 1 or 2 hours before you sleep, then turn off the A/C when you hit the bed, and turn on the fan instead. (Yeah, you might sweat but trust me, waking up for Fajr will be so easy!)
• Open your car windows when you drive
• Open your office windows and have a fan to ventilate the room
May Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) ease the heat of the summer months for us and protect us from the more intense heat of Hellfire. Ameen.

24 May 2012


If sins had an odour, Would people be able to sit with you...... .

Something to ponder on.....

02 May 2012

Know Your Time : Time Tracking Experiment

Umar Bin Al-Khattab, may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) (glorified and exalted be He) be pleased with him said “Take yourself to account before you’re taken to account”.
As Muslims who believe that we’ll be judged for every minute we spent on this earth, it is sometimes quite useful to track how we spend our time in order to accurately measure how well we’re living our lives according to the purpose we’ve been created for.
About two years ago, I ran a time tracking experiment on myself for a few days to help me measure exactly how I spend my time in different activities. The results of this experiment were astonishing! It made me realize how much I was wasting my time and helped me take drastic measures to improve my productivity.
Here’s how you can run your own time tracking experiment with a few, free simple tools.
As with every successful experiment, you need the right measuring tools and apparatus to accurately measure the data and draw the most useful conclusions. This can be challenging if you’re trying to record what you do every minute of your day, since you’ll either forget to record what you do, OR be biased in your recording to show that you were productive when in reality you weren’t.
To overcome this problem, you need to divide your time tracking experiment into two parts:

1. Recording the time spent online/on a computer

Since the majority of our time these days is spent on the computer and online, you can start by recording what you do on them. Thankfully, there’s a great application for that!
RescueTime (Free)
One of the best time tracking tools online today is RescueTime; a web-based time recording and analytical tool that sits quietly in the background of your computer and measures which application, website or document you’re currently actively using.
At the end of each week, RescueTime will send you beautiful (or scary) result graphs showing exactly what percentage of your time online/on the computer is spent on “Productive Tasks” (e.g. Word document, online research, presentations..etc) vs. “Unproductive Tasks” (e.g. social media, personal e-mails, etc). (Note: you can choose which applications/documents RescueTime should classify as “productive” vs. “unproductive”).
Another great feature of RescueTime is that if you’re away from your computer for more than 5 to 10 minutes, it will ask you to write down where you went and what you did, again giving you visibility of how you spend your time during your breaks away from your computer. (E.g. in one day, I realized I spent 5 hours at meetings!)

2. Recording the time spent offline/off a computer

Now that you have an accurate recording of your time spent online or on the computer (and even during short breaks between your working day), it’s time to measure how you spend your time offline, especially when you’re away from your laptop for long stretches, or at home.
To record your time offline, I highly recommend the techniques used by accountants and auditors who need to record their time for billing purposes where they simply record what they are doing every 20m. There are a couple of ways to do this accurately:
  1. You could keep a buzzer next to you and set the timer for 20 minutes or 1 hour. Every time the buzzer goes off, you record exactly what you’re doing on a piece of paper.
  2. You can ask a friend, spouse, child, or someone else who’s close to you to simply record what you’re doing every 20 minutes.
That’s it! At the end of the week, you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of how you spend your time.
Finally, a word of caution: recording your time is a painful and tedious experiment and it can be very tempting to skip some steps, or record how you think you spent your time at the end of your day, but that will defeat the purpose! You need to be as objective as possible and avoid relying on your memory to remember what you did at certain times.
Once you have an accurate measure of your time (both online/offline), you need to compare the results with the results you’d like to achieve as a Productive Muslim – a person who achieves success both in this life and in the Hereafter. If the results of your experiment show that you’re wasting a lot of your time, then you know you have to do something about it as the results won’t improve by themselves.
Here are 3 practical things you can do to improve your time management:
  1. Limit time-wasting activities: If you find that you spend a big chunk of your time on social media, TV or aimlessly surfing the Internet, try to limit these activities by allocating specific times for them during the day.
  2. Compress your work time into large work chunks: If you find that you work in bursts of 10-20 minutes throughout the day, try to compress all your work time into large chunks of at least 45 to 90 minutes. This will allow you to work more productively and achieve greater results.
  3. Manage your time actively: Instead of managing your time reactively and fire-fighting your way through your days, try your best to actively manage your time by planning each day the night before, using our ProductiveMuslim Taskinator and completing at least 3 to 5 of the Most Important Tasks (M.I.Ts) early in the morning. Moreover, such active management of time would help you avoid the common pitfall of “heedlessness” from Allah’s commands and allows you to truly develop a balanced lifestyle that doesn’t forget the akhira and works hard in this dunya.
Once you’ve adopted some of the above changes and you feel that your time management has improved, re-run the time tracking experiment again and let the results speak for themselves.