Goal Setting

4 Times when you should give up on your goals

Never Give Up

Never Give up…or should you?

The old saying in Self Help “Never give up!” isn’t always true. While it is true that attaining noble goals requires sacrifice, hard work, persistence, and a long period of time. It is also true that there are certain times when you should consider giving up on your goals. Here are four situations when giving up on your goal is the right thing to do:

When the goal is Haram

You may have set the goal when you were ignorant and unaware that it was prohibited in Islam, or harmful to others. If that is the case, as soon as you gain knowledge and realize that it is Haram, you must give up that goal for the sake of Allah, even if your Nafs desires it.

Any goal given up for the sake of Allah will be replaced by that which is better than it, as Allah does not allow any sacrifice to go unrewarded.

When it isn’t worth the sacrifice

We all know that attaining goals require sacrifice. However, we must approach our goals with balance and realism. If attaining a goal requires sacrifice, it needs to be worthy of that sacrifice. Too often, we sacrifice that which is better for goals which are lesser. Take a look at your current goals and the sacrifices needed to attain them. Are they proportionate? Is it worth it?

There are some things you shouldn’t sacrifice for worldly goals. You should never sacrifice your religion/relationship with Allah for a worldly goal. You should never allow your goals to break up your marriage or destroy your relationship with your children, and you should never chase goals that will compromise your integrity.

Life is about balance. We need lofty goals, but we also need to fulfill the rights of those in our lives. If a goal interferes with those rights, it may be time to consider letting go of that goal.

When it takes you away from your vision

Sometimes a goal starts of as a good idea, but ends up taking you down paths very different from what you envisioned. When working on your goals, it is crucial to analyze your goals within the framework of your life vision.

If your goals are moving you towards your vision, then continue pursuing them. But if they are taking you away from your vision, then it is time to let them go.

When something better comes along

Sometimes we set our goals when our resources are low and our opportunities few. As a result, the goals are not ideal or optimal. Some people become so obsessed with such goals that they end up missing better opportunities that present themselves along the way. This is why it is crucial to put your vision before your goal.

While working towards a goal, if something better comes along. If some opportunity that can move you towards your vision faster comes along. If something comes along that would be an even better goal. Then it is time to give up your goal in order to make time for the better one.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, 2 comments
What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting

Most Self-Help books offer the S.M.A.R.T. Goal setting formula, because it is simple and effective. It covers the five main criterion to consider when setting a goal. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Let’s take a look at each of these criterion in details:

Specific – This means that your goal shouldn’t be something vague. You should know exactly what you want to work towards. “I want to be an author” is a vague goal, but “I want to write a book about self-confidence from an Islamic perspective” is a very specific goal. The second is much easier to work towards, the key here is to be as detailed as possible.

Measurable – This means that your goal should be something you can keep track off to measure how close you are to completing your goal. Goals are generally long term projects and without any form of measurement, it is difficult to know whether you are closer to accomplishing it or not.

An example of a measurable goal is setting a goal to write 100 pages a month by writing three and half pages a day. This way you know daily whether you are making progress towards that goal or not.

Attainable – This means your goal should be something you can work towards and attain. If your goal is to build a multi-million dollar Islamic Centre and you don’t have the resources to do so, then this is not an attainable goal and should either be left for later in life or tweaked to become more attainable.

Realistic – This means your goal must be something you have the ability to do and something you are willing to do. If you hate writing, then making it a goal to write a 500 page book is not realistic, even though it is attainable. Being realistic means knowing what you are good at, what you are willing to sacrifice for, and making your goals in line with that.

Timely – Finally, a goal must have a time limit. As long as you leave something without any time limit, you will not feel the urgency to work on it. Saying that “Someday I want to write a 300 page book” is not going to help you write it. Setting a goal to write the book within three months by writing four pages a day is a timely goal, and creates the sense of urgency needed to get things done.

These five qualities help us make our goals achievable by creating the kind of description, pattern and system necessary to make sure we get it done. When setting your goals, weigh each goal in light of all five criterion to fine-tune it until you have a concrete plan to work with.

The benefits of setting goals in this manner are many. By setting specific goals, you know exactly what you want to accomplish without any ambiguity. By setting measurable goals, you are able to keep track of your progress and how close you are to attaining your goal.

By setting attainable goals, you are focusing on is possible right now and working on those goals first. By setting realistic goals, you are focusing on your strengths and gifts, leading to an increased chance of meeting that goal. Finally, by setting a deadline or time limit, you are forcing yourself to make time for that goal and complete it within the given amount of time.

So this is what a S.M.A.R.T. goal is. Go ahead and try redefining your current goals using these criterion, and let me know if it made a difference.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Time Management, 0 comments

My favorite 8 Productivity Apps & Tools – Part 1

Productivity Apps:

Productivity Apps were invented to make life easier for us. Yet, many people don’t know which Apps to use or how to use them productively. Personally, I am always on the look out for any App that can make me more productive in any aspect of my life, and so my list of productivity Apps is constantly changing and evolving.

At the time of writing this however, these are my 7 most important Apps and tools for staying productive:

1. Everything Google (gmail, calendar, drive, books)

Productivity Apps

To pick one Google App that keeps me productive is really difficult, so I decided to start the list with everything Google, while some of these may appear again later in the list. I use Gmail over other mail servers as the spam-filter, division into Primary, Social, and Promotions sections, and ease of synchronization with my phone and PC make it one of the best and most productive email applications out there. Any other email application that I tried feels like a dinosaur comparatively.

Add to that, Gmail is sync to the other Apps that assist in my productivity like my Calendar, Google Drive, Hangout and Maps, making it an all in one system that every productive person should use.

2. To-Dos/S-Note

P3120540

In 2010, I started using the Samsung Galaxy Note brand of phablets and have stuck with it ever since. The Note series is aimed at productivity junkies and contains many features that are great. The S-Note however stands out as something I use every day. It contains templates for daily and weekly To-Do lists which I use daily to make my To-Do lists and have them available wherever I go. Crossing off each completed task with my S-pen is also more fun that clicking a button.

Recently, after upgrading to Windows 10 on my PC, I was looking for a good App to use for To-Do lists on my PC so that I do not have to check my phone every hour to see what needs to be done next.

I ended up downloading the To-Dos App and it has saved me a lot of time as it is very easy and quick to use, both in adding tasks and crossing them off. Its a simple App, nothing fancy but serves as a nice yellow reminder on my screen of what still needs to be done.

The S-Note serves as a portable To-Do List, while the To-Dos App serves as its equivalent on my PC, making both Apps very important for my daily productivity.

3. iTunes

iTunes

As someone who is generally known to be anti-Apple, it probably comes as surprise to see iTunes on this list. The truth is that I only started using iTunes a month ago and I must admit it is the best audio player I was used.

I was searching for audio player in which I can access all my favorite Podcast series and iTunes gave me that and more. It downloads the latest episodes, keeps track of which episodes I have downloaded and not listened to yet, and will pick up from the exact spot I stopped, even after days. All of this saves me a lot of time that usually goes in browsing each podcast’s webpage, searching for the latest episodes and trying to remember where I stopped.

Perhaps its time I tried out an actual Apple product, perhaps an iPod?

4. Windows 10 Start Menu

Windows 10 menu

I know this isn’t an App but the way it is designed for Windows 10, it is an awesome productivity tool. For many people, the menu was something they missed in Windows 8, but something they just use as is. However, the Windows 10 menu can be customized in so many ways, it serves me as a very efficient productivity tools.

You can choose which tiles to display in the menu, choose their order and arrange by groups. I have taken advantage of that to set up a menu that as all my most important Apps together at the top, all social media tiles together underneath, and likewise arranged all tiles in order of priority. This has saved me a lot of time in searching for programs or scrolling through long menus to get to them.

That’s the end of Part 1, folks. Click here to read part two and learn about more productivity apps. Although the start menu screen-grab I shared does give some clues about what might be on it. 🙂 

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Time Management, 3 comments
5 more daily habits that keep me productive

5 more daily habits that keep me productive

More daily habits:

Continuing on from my previous post, here are five more daily habits that help me stay productive.

1. I work daily towards my long term goals

Long-term goals take months, if not years, to achieve, but they are achieved by doing a little bit every day that inches you one step closer to completing those goals.

This is why every day I schedule in time to work towards my long term goals. This includes writing time, research time, planning, and even homeschooling, as homeschooling my kids is working towards a greater purpose, and towards a goal that is over a decade away.

The key is that each day we should be one step closer towards achieving our goals, otherwise our days are wasted and not really productive. It is easy to be busy, but are we busy doing tasks that nobody will benefit from or are we busy doing things that will have long term positive results?

2. I schedule writing time every day

Between my two blogs and my book writing career, writing is an important part of who I am. This is why every day I schedule in an hour for working on my books and an hour for working on my blogs.

This hour is either spent writing, researching, brainstorming, or editing. However I use it, it is time well spent as it leads to me being able to produce 3-4 books a year, and 3-8 articles a week. All it takes is an hour or two of allocated time daily.

3. I take a walk to reflect on my day and how I can improve

There is always room for improvement. There are always ways to do things better, faster and more effectively. This is why we must never become complacent and we should always work towards higher standards.

I like to take a walk at the end of each work day and reflect on whatever happened throughout the day. I reflect on how I can deal with situations that popped up in a better manner, how I can get more done in less time, and whatever mistakes I made through out the day. A walk gives me the space and peace to really reflect on these topics and improve my overall productivity.

4. I learn something new every day

There are two primary ways in which I learn something new each day, I listen to a podcast/lecture a day and I schedule in reading time every day. The world is constantly changing and there is no much we don’t know. It is foolish to rely on things we learned over a decade ago and think it is enough. In order to continuously grow, we must continuously learn and that is why every day I listen to something new and read something new, across a variety of different fields.

(Perhaps I should write an article on the podcast series I currently follow, and the books I read this year)

5. I make time for my family and myself

It is not possible to maintain a productive lifestyle if you are only focused on work. You will eventually burn out and fall apart. Every day I try to make time for my wife, kids and myself, and once a week for other relatives. This time is downtime, fun time, relaxing time, and I try my best not to think about work at all during this time and just unwind. As a result, I am recharged and ready to work the next morning.

Don’t overburden yourself, you are human so make sure you enjoy what is Halal and don’t try to turn into a working robot. 🙂

That concludes part two of my daily productivity habits. I hope you found it beneficial, stay tuned for more articles coming soon expanding on many of these points in more details.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Time Management, 3 comments
6 Daily Habits That Keep Me Productive

6 Daily Habits That Keep Me Productive

Daily Habits that keep me productive

People often ask me how I am able to get so much done every single day. While I have documented my detailed system in my book “Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide To Time Management“, I thought it would be nice to summarize for you some of the daily habits that help me stay productive.

Habits are the key to success. Every decent Self Help book emphasizes that good habits lead to good long term results, while bad habits lead to bad long term results. I spent the past half a decade building good habits that take me closer to my goals daily, here are six of the most important ones:

1. I make a To-Do list the night before

Writing out a daily To-Do list is essential for having a productive day. It gives you an idea of exactly what you need to get done during the day and you feel a sense of accomplishment as you scratch each item off your To-Do list.

To take it one step further, I prepare my To-Do list the night before. As I round off my work for the day and scratch off the last item on my To-Do list, I take another five minutes to make my To-Do list for the next day. The benefit of this is that your subconscious mind works on the To-Do list all night, and you wake up knowing exactly what needs to get done that day. From all of my daily habits, this one is most crucial.

2. I stick to a routine

Daily Habits are all about creating routines, and no doubt about it, if I want to work full-time, home-school my kids, blog, write books, do Dawah locally, present Radio Programs, work on my own personal development, and spend time with family then a routine is necessary.

I set certain times of the day for working on specific tasks and get into the habit of working on those tasks during that time, eg: 9am-12pm for homeschooling, 3pm-5pm for writing. Doing so helps me develop a routine which helps get me into a flow that will help me accomplish both my long-term and short-term goals.

3. I schedule my day around Salah and Quran

Reciting a portion of the Qur’an daily with reflection, and praying the five daily prayers on time take precedence over anything else. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, there is always time to pray Salah and recite Qur’an if you make them a priority. The problem is that many of us try to fit Salah into our day, instead plan your day around the Salah times and you will find yourself never missing a Salah and gaining Allah’s assistance throughout the day.

This is why besides praying the five daily Salah, I schedule time every day after Dhuhr to recite Qur’an for fifteen minutes with contemplation, as the needs of the soul are greater than the needs of the body.

4. I start the day with dua

Of course, every Muslim must start their day with Fajr, unless you wake up earlier and start your day with Qiyam Al-Layl. Either way, you are starting your day at a time when dua is accepted, so take advantage of it.

This is why I begin each day with a dua to Allah asking Him to help me accomplish every task on my To-Do list and more. Because with the help of Allah, anything is possible!

5. I focus on one thing at a time

This is critical for getting things done. If we try too hard to multi-task, we end up not doing justice to whatever tasks we are working on. Focus on one thing at a time, and give it your full attention. Doing so will ensure better quality work, completed in a shorter amount of time, and you will still find time to complete the other tasks.

Right now, I am strongly resisting the urge to listen to a podcast while typing this article, because I know I will not give either proper attention if I multi-task right now.

6. I pace myself

Contrary to popular opinion, I do not sit all day and night working. I take regular breaks throughout the day to relax and recharge. I also spend the evenings having fun, and once a week I take an entire day off and don’t do any work at all. The reason is that I believe we function better and get work done faster in this way.

If someone works non-stop for four hours in a row, that person will experience fatigue and the quality of his work will lessen with each passing hour. However, if he works in bursts of 50 minutes, taking a 10 minute break every hour, he will get better quality work done in faster time.

So there you have it, these are six things I do every day to stay productive. If you enjoyed this, read the followup regarding 5 other things I do daily to stay productive!

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Time Management, 4 comments