30-Second Rule

There are a lot of 30-second Rule but the one that I’m referring to was introduced to me by Tikki Kustenmacher in ‘How To Simplify Your Life’.

It says that :
When something takes no more than 30 seconds to be completed, do it now.

This may seem simple. In fact, the contents of the book are simple. But that’s the trick of our whole life – simple is the best solution. People just confuse simple with simplistic.

This 30-second Rule, simple as it is, is how I taught myself to stop procrastinating and keeping my place organized and tidy.

Here are examples of household chores that require less than 30 seconds to finish, yet often procrastinated:
1. Wash cup after drinking (rather than collecting a few cups afterwards).
2. Wash pot right after cooking (rather than soaking and telling ourselves it’ll clean easier later).
3. Do dishes of one person after meal (rather than waiting until later, giving chance for ants to dine in).
4. Cleaning a spot in bathroom while taking shower (rather than cleaning vigorously once every few weeks).
5. Emptying dish rack before cooking (the later dishes will be dried faster this way because they’re not accumulated).
6. Empty the trash bin (so much better now than until it overflows later).
7. Organize a few fresh laundry straight from air dry (rather than waiting till they become a bucketful).
8. Clear weeds from potted plants as we water them.
9. Clear the car interior as we run the engine before going out in the morning.

These are some simple things that have kept my spaces organized and clutter-free. The 30-second Rule has made me see my everyday life in different perspective.

Every time I look at simple job that needs to be done, I ask myself:
Does this take more than 30 seconds?
Most of the time, the answer is “No” and, again, I keep my place clutter-free.

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Secrets

One of the themes that I like in story books is secret. A story about secrets. Gothic fictions are the best.

All story books contain secrets, anyway. Because you only get the whole story when you reach the final word. It is a secret until you finish it.

But the kind of secret theme that I like is the ones which when we finish a chapter, our perspective changed totally from before the chapter or the stories are told from so many perspectives we need to pick up the clues by finding the intersections, point of similarities.

     

But unlike books which cannot be read and reread over and over again, life cannot be relive. We have one chance and that’s it. Secrets revealed, secrets kept. Whether we revealed a secret or we decided to keep one, that point in time cannot be revisited.

Everyone who keep secrets must have the moments when they can’t help thinking, “If I revealed it that time, would things be different now?” Everyone who revealed secrets in the past must be thinking, “If I kept it until now, would things turn out better?” Vice versa.

Like, a daughter and a father who are distanced because of something in the past. As the years passed and some truths unraveled, things cannot be undone. Even if they admits they love each other, they had unintentionally build a concrete wall between them. Even if they managed to break it finally, the debris would still be around.

Or like, a girl who confessed to her friend. He kept quiet so their friendship lasts. But things had surely been different. She wonders if things would have been better if she didn’t confess. He wonders if things would be the same if he talked openly about it.

Secrets are burdensome. You couldn’t check with other people whether they knew your secret because it is a secret, thus you don’t simply ask around. And when finally you knew that other person had actually known the secret, even though you felt relieved of the burden, you still feel guilty of talking about that secret with that person because you are suppose to keep it quiet, not talk about it.

It’s good to have secrets in certain areas, though. Secrets bond people. Keeping secrets of someone dear is the pinnacle of trust. A friend who keeps secrets has passed the friendship test. To most people, the people in this close circle are usually no more than the total of your fingers – the people you trust the most.

I couldn’t help remembering the lyrics of Hit The Lights (sang by Selena Gomez) when typing this.

It’s the girl you never told I like you
It’s the boy you let get away
It’s the one you saw that day on the train
But you freaked out and walked away

It’s all the money that you’re saving
As the good life passes by
It’s all the dreams that never came true
Cause you’re too damn scared to try

Book’s ending are sure. You can feel the satisfaction when you reach the last word. Life has past, present and future. The past, like book, you can reread but you cannot change. The present is the point where you decide. The future is so unsure and dependent on your decision in the present.

Decide to not regret the past. The present would be cleared from clutters. This way, you can decide a future full of rainbows.

Strange Day

How queer everything is today.

Let me think.

Was I the same when I woke up this morning?

– Alice in Wonderland –

A few days back, I woke up with a strange feeling at 4 am. Cici Wawa Maisara was nudging my left arm and Mulan was snuggling my foot with her claws – the reason I woke up. Cici had had fever for a week then. And I had almost recovered from fever after a couple of days, but the cough persist and it kept me awake at nights.

Later that day, I borrowed a friend’s car to send Cici to the veterinarian. I felt that she was so light because I hadn’t seen her eaten for a few days. She was behaving weirdly, not wanting to stay far from me, even though she was too weak to move around.

The weather was also weird that day. It was almost 10 am when I got out of the house, but the sky color was as if it was only 8 am. The Sun looked like it was shy to come out that day after feeling guilty of a mistake it made to the Moon the day before. So it came out late so that it could stay as far away as it can from the Moon. The sky was grey, but I saw no rain clouds. And it didn’t rain till the end of the day.

My nose felt bloated due to the drifting fever. I couldn’t hear properly because my ears were affected too. The sounds I heard that day were strange to my ears. Voices are muffled and I need to repeat what everybody was saying to make sure I heard them correctly. I was not confident when I drove because I could have mistaken the sounds of vehicles for gushing winds. The world seemed quiet to me because the sounds had reached my ear drums improperly the amplitude seemed low than it was.

I lost a couple of kilograms because I couldn’t smell my food and they kept coming out every time the cough got me aggressively. Even though I didn’t lose appetite, I might have unconsciously eat small portions. It was strange when my housemate asked “How does it taste?’ when I ate her cooking because I couldn’t describe things I couldn’t feel. I ate anyway. Her cooking had never fail me. Why should it be that time?

I watched Phoebe in Wonderland the night before.

“It’s called the Guilles de la Tourrets syndrome. I think the name is beautiful.”                                                                                    – Phoebe –

And I watched Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland later that night. It complete those feeling of strangeness for those movies were telling ‘strangeness’ in their own fashion.

The day ended well. I got through calmly. The strangeness struck me. Yet it disappears as the day fades among the mist at midnight. And I welcomed the day after that cheerfully.

P/s: I find my style of writing quite different this time. Perhaps it is due to me reading the original classic Dracula now.

Magic and Ghosts

“I saw shadows of tree branches in my bedroom, reflected by the moonlight coming from the window.”

“What did the ghost look like?”

“Silly! That tree shadows were the ghosts. There was no tree for at least 20 yards from the house!”

– Her Fearful Symmetry by Aundrey Niffinneger –

We are conditioned that ghosts are terrifying, ugly and haunting. One of the reasons is, simply, the films say so. We were conditioned to believe so. Just like we were conditioned to believe that currency is actual money, credit card is modern lifestyle and make-ups make girls look pretty. Audrey Niffinneger argues that in her book. Ghosts can be beautiful, their presence can be comforting and they might long for friends as much as humans do.

The same goes with magic. The existence of David Copperfield and some other popular illusionists (shows my lack of general knowledge on the subject :-P), though inspiring, may have narrowed down the definition of magic. Magic doesn’t have to happen in a blink of an eye. Magic doesn’t have to have audience to validate it. Magic doesn’t have to be entertaining. Those are for pop culture.

To me, magic happens almost everyday in my life. It is because of the way I see it. Magic is when my mother called me and say, “You don’t have enough money now, do you?” just when I need it the most. Magic is when I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a text message from an old friend when my phone was in silent mode and the text went “I suddenly remember you.” Magic is when I was reminded of my friend and when I called, she said she was just talking about me with her friend.

Thinking about things like this makes me want to turn back and review all of my definitions about life. Is my definition of love correct? Is my definition of religion correct? Or, are they just another conditions being put in my mind because of they way I was brought up, educated or what I read? They all begin with that Her Fearful Symmetry book. I look deeper. I began to see more. I realized more things. Praises to HIM.

Books and I

There’s a saying from a man I’ve forgotten. He said:

‘Show me one’s private collection of shelves, I can tell you all there is to know about that person.’

Bibliomaniac vs bibliophile

Bibliomaniac – someone who loves collecting or buying books.

Bibliophile – someone who loves books, read them from cover to cover and digest the philosophy or gist of the book into his/er life.

I was, once, convinced that I am a bibliophile. But as I looked at my shelves and pointed out some books I intend to read but never get to it or books I read but never finished or books I finished but never understood some of the contents, my confidence wavered. I realized that I’m far behind an epic bibliophile. But I resolved that I’m satisfied as long as I don’t fall into the trap of bibliomaniacs who believe that they are bibliophiles.

Books and Dreams

Every single book on my shelve came with sentimental values to me. I usually wrote down the date and where I bought it. Sometimes, I even wrote down with whom I bought the book. If it is a gift, I jot down the event. I can give reasons to every book I bought – the content value, the font type, the letter size, the texture of the cover, the smell of the papers, the introduction of the writer, someone’s or some blog’s recommendation etc.

My dream house, when I was a kid, always features a big library – full of books heard and unheard, popular and not so popular, found everywhere and rare. This idea was inflicted by my favorite fiction The Shadow of The Wind (still my favorite after years). The idea of donating books and funding libraries around the globe really fascinates me – like Red Stevens in the movie The Ultimate Gift.

Nowadays, my mind dances around the idea of

‘how do we produce a legacy of book readers (or bookworms, as many people like to call them)?’

since reading is not yet a popular habit that Malaysians can be proud of. Furthermore, the statistics produced turned out to be doubtful. My guess is even as the number of book lovers increase, the gap between book reader and non-reader widens, resulting in the stagnant average number of books read by Malaysians per year.

But then I think…

Screw unreliable statistics! And begin the process of cataloging my personal collections (which I intended to do since a year-or-so ago =P).

Life Beyond Comfort Zone

There are always something that we don’t know in life – things that are beyond our circle of knowledge. To expand our knowledge, to make ourselves better, we must venture outside our circle of knowledge. A little bit further outside our circle of knowledge is the boundary of our comfort zone. The idea is to get the most out of our life, we must stretch our comfort zone from time to time, continuously, constructively.

A human may never be perfect. But we can optimize our performance by constantly improving ourselves.

Last Sunday, I attended a friend’s Gratitude Launch of his newly published book. I am very happy for him. I am also amazed at the fact that he is now called a writer. So elated witnessing a friend realizing his dream.

I am now at the exact point in life where I see people – whom are close to me – living my dreams. They are so significant to the point that it made me realized even more that achieving dreams are so not impossible. Dreams of being a writer, being financially free, succeeding in business, being a great orator, having happy family and marriage and living a balanced, fulfilling lives – the living proves are all around me.

A few years back, these dreams seemed very far from me. Now that these people are around me, I’m grateful for I’m getting answers to some deep, meaningful questions that have been in my mind for quite some time. It is so true that:

“What you focus on, manifest” – Michael J. Losier

Dreams that are acted on becomes reality. Also, the more we focus on them when they start to manifest – that’s being grateful of them – the closer and the more vivid they get. An old friend of mine said,

“Thoughts become words.

Words become actions.

Actions become habits.

Habits are who we are.”

My writer friend thanked me for attending his Gratitude Launch. The fact is I am the one who should be thanking him for being the perfect, significant, exact proof to me as if stating boldly to my face “if I can do it, YOU can do it too”. One day, if God wills.

Thank you very much, Mr President of Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club, Tey Bin Yuen! More and more success to come to you 🙂

[2 : 30 – 33]

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

I‘ve been re-reading this book this week. The first time I read, it was in 2007. This book has received many good reviews since it was published and has came out with many version then.

The obvious factor that has made this book a great success, in my opinion, is the fact that the author goes straight into practical explanation instead of going deep into psychological fundamental. The author also put the book into both perspective instead of favoring only one gender in his research.

When I just read this book near the end of last week, I went to a meeting with a group of women in their fifties. As the meeting went on, I kept thinking, “Is there any book on communication between X-generation and Y-generation?” because, well, it is as challenging as communicating to our opposite gender, I guess.

Rahsia Penjual Juara – Dr Niki Shuhada Shukor

Last weekend, I went to a sales workshop conducted by Dr Niki Shuhada Shukor – the mother of unit trusts. The experience was invaluable and the feeling I felt after the workshop was indescribable. It was definitely no ordinary workshop.

That was my first formal workshop on sales, so I didn’t know what to expect. Before this, I only read books on sales or grasped tips from experienced salesperson. Whatever my imagination was before the workshop, the benefit was beyond my imagination. From the fundamental and philosophy to the practical, word-to-word basis techniques, all skills taught in the workshop were applicable in sales career.

The best thing that I’ve learned from Dr Niki is, to put it simply, ‘If we love someone, we must show our love by showing results.’ I’ve never really thought about this before. I understood that we show our love by taking action to our loved ones, but it never occurred to me that love is the best motivation to accelerate our sales and showing the results – our success – to our loved ones is an act of love. The idea is not in impressing our loved ones, but to use LOVE as a catalyst to ignite our spirit and force us to achieve success and greatness.

I can recall from history how Rasulullah the Prophet kept muttering “My ummah… My ummah…” before he died. I guess all that he had done, the greatness that Islam had achieved during his time was due to his love to us, his ummah, alongside his greatest love to Allah. Love had been a great motivation for he wanted the best that he can leave behind for us. Subhanallah. Praises for HIM.

All in all, it is my duty, now, to show the result – to be a success – for that was my pledge to Mummy Niki. After all, every human was created by HIM for greatness. Life is too short to take a free ride. Greatness is not impossible. Our duty is just to do the job and HE will take care of the rest – that’s HIS promise.

Stop Worrying and Start Living

I’ve just finished reading a book written by Dale Carnegie. The title is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. When I first chance upon this book, the small me inside my heart said, ‘It’s common sense’. In fact, I saw this book a few times at my favorite bookstore on the same shelf before eventually deciding to buy it. I bought it because I finally read the Introduction of the book. Dale Carnegie wrote:

“However, let me warn you: you won’t find anything new in it, but you will find much that is not generally applied. And when it comes to that, you and I don’t need to be told anything new. … Our trouble is not ignorance, but inaction.”

These words made me decide to have this book. I encounter a lot of ah-ha moments throughout the reading. And I came to find, after reading and re-reading some parts of the book, that:

I AM IN MY TWENTIES, STILL STUDYING, SINGLE AND DEBT-LESS. YET, I WORRY TOO MUCH EVERYDAY OF MY LIFE.

I mean, I thought I’m worried about a few things. But now I realized that I worry too much. I worry about too many things that I forgot His promise. I forgot Allah promised to take care of most of the things in my worry list. The prophet Muhammad taught us tawakkal. But I was too busy worrying I forgot what he taught. Islam taught me to take all possible action the best I can and let Allah take care of the result and then be grateful no matter what the outcome – that’s basically tawakkal.

I worry that I can’t finish my study on time. I worry that I spend too much time in a role I neglect my responsibilities or roles in other areas in my life. I worry that I spend too much time at work I spend less time with my family. I worry when I can’t sell and I don’t profit in my business. I worry that I’m progressing very slowly in things I decide to do. I worry because I’m way behind in life and career compared to my friends. I worry until I have doubts in things that I chose to do. And I really hate it when I doubt.

The book taught me that I should be concern, but I shouldn’t worry. I should use the time I have to solve the problems I’m worrying about instead of spending it for worrying. I should banish my problems now instead of wasting my energy to worrying. I should take action and busy myself to achieve my goals instead of crying my heart out when I face difficulties.

Allah answers prayers in various ways. I ask for His guidance to his path and let me stay in that path. Perhaps, this is His way of telling me: Discover yourself – your strengths and weaknesses – and you’ll discover me.

The Power of Story

I just finished reading this book recently. Written by Jim Loehr, he introduce a way to improve your life by rewriting your life story. Yes, we write our own story and it will act as a course we are going to go through until the end of our life.

The interesting part about this book is, JL not only explains the paradigm behind this story-writing, but he also include ways to take this into action – which I think is the best way to teach a way of living. The idea, the plan, the action course.

For those who seriously want to change their life in many significant ways, I suggest you read this book. (For muslim friends, of course there will be some ideas not suited to our ways. You’ll know when you read it and you’ll know what’s best for us.)

King of Torts

Last night, I finished reading a book entitled “King of Torts” written by John Grisham. There are quite many law terms that I couldn’t understand, making me reading like a tortoise and falling asleep after at least one chapter. (I’m sorry John Grisham). In my personal opinion, this book lack of suspense and the storyline is typical. I think I may like it if it was a movie. I read this book because I’m curious about mass torts practice since it is so unpopular in Malaysia.

You wanna know the synopsis? Dream of it! I’m not gonna tell you. Read it yourself. I’m afraid John Grisham is gonna sue me. Haha…

First Things First

I have been in leadership camps for quite a numerous times in my life. I read non-fiction books about self-building. I attend classes in university. Yet, I cannot bring myself any nearer to answering (with a fully-satisfying answer) why can’t I actually erase this ‘procrastinator’ label glued on my forehead (of course in my imagination!)?

One day (or is it one night when I can’t fall asleep after an attempt of doing a-hundred-skipping ???), I found some interesting facts about these human endowments – self-awareness, conscience, creative imagination, independent will. I nearly forgot to mention this book. It is “First Things First”, written by Stephen R. Covey and Merrills. This book gives me a new perspective about time-management. I do learn this in school, camps and some books, but this book gives full explanations on the principles, the techniques, the whats, the whys and also briefly, on the history of time-management techniques development.

Now, let’s get back to those human endowments. I see now that what I am lack of is independent will. I always know that I need to do something. I fully realize that I need to finish it before the deadline. I know why I must do that thing. But I really can’t stick to what I’m doing for a long time. The same thing happens to routines. I mean good routines that I need to keep like ibadah sunat, exercising, good eating habit, waking up early and many more.

The interesting fact that I mentioned earlier is I have just realized that these self-endowments can actually be nurtured in oneself. Just like growing a plant in a pot. This book is giving some techniques that can be used to nurture our endowments. Wish me luck in improving myself! I recommend you to read this book.

“Knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows: for details are swallowed up in principles”

– Alfred North Whitehead –

Sincerely, I don’t even know this Alfred guy. Pardon me.

Cici Wawa Maisara

Mulan Jamilah

Doraemon

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