Thursday, December 18, 2014

Productive Mommy Blogger

As a mother of three young children, I was surprised to find that each of my children were so very different from one another. With each child came his or her own unique challenges, therefore leading me to constantly try new parenting techniques to overcome these issues. By the time my youngest child was one and half years old, I had gathered up an enormous mental list of all the tips and advice I could share with other mothers that would benefit them through the stages of pregnancy through parenthood. As a result, I decided to take my knowledge and parenting experiences that resided within my mind and transfer them into blog posts for others to learn from.
In the first of my series of articles, I will share my top ten tips on how to be a successful and productive blogger mommy. Look out for my future articles; they’ll be full of tips on how to be a productive mother, whilst balancing all the key duties of Muslimah.
When I first started my blog, I decided to use WordPress as my blog platform, although there are many different platforms to choose from, such as Blogger and Tumblr. Starting a blog is free of cost, and there are countless themes and templates to choose from. Social media is an excellent tool to use in order to spread the word of your posts and attract readers from around the world.
Keep in mind, that the role of a mommy blogger is not an easy one to say the least, for it requires you to work around your children’s schedule and let’s face it, that’s never a breeze! However, with the proper planning and scheduling, it can it possible to balance being both a mommy and a blogger, with all the other roles required of a Muslim woman. Of course, you don’t have to be a mommy to be a blogger – just a productive Muslimah with an idea!

1. Have sincere intention, desire and passion

Intention is everything! You can combine many intentions for maximum reward: for example, have the intention to help others, the intention to better yourself through creative expression, the intention to share beneficial knowledge. If pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our main aim, then we have already succeeded, no matter how many people read your blog.
The second thing you will need to become a mommy blogger is a strong internal desire and passion for writing and sharing your experiences. You must genuinely love to write and want to connect with others; this desire and passion is what will help motivate you  to publish a blog post regularly.

2. Write down your ideas

It is key to write down an idea for a blog post as soon as it comes to mind. Being a mom can mean your thoughts are all over the place, so before you lose a great blog post idea, write it down in a notebook or your phone/tablet, so you don’t forget it.

3. Set realistic goals

Writing down goals will motivate you to meet them. Consider your situation and be realistic in how many blog posts you are able to publish every month. If you have young children, or children who require special attention, then set a goal for publishing one blog post every week instead of two posts a week. Consistency over quantity!

4. Stay connected with other sisters

Get connected with sisters who follow your blog through social media; Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are great ways to communicate with your followers and a excellent tools for sharing your blog posts. Furthermore, your followers will give you feedback on what posts they would like to see from you, providing you with ideas for future posts.

5. Get the housework done

Try to get the housework done earlier on in the day, this way you have the rest of the day to spend with your family and work on blog posts. The less housework there is, the less stress you will have as a mommy blogger.

6. Create a schedule

Create a schedule that allows you to allocate your time wisely. As a mother, the best time to draft for a blog post is right after you put the kids to bed. Schedule in one hour for all the other things that come with blogging; connecting with your followers on social media, checking e-mail, etc. Moreover, try to find pockets of time within the day for blogging, for instance staying up after Fajr prayer is a great time for productivity, and perhaps after Dhuhr prayer (when the kids are napping) would be an ideal time to edit a blog post.

7. Get inspired

If you feel uninspired and don’t know what to blog about, then take inspiration from your surroundings, from people around you, and gems from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Blog about a pivotal moment in your life, how you’re feeling, what your stance is on an important situation, how motherhood has changed you, what your children have taught you, how your faith has changed since becoming a parent, and so on. Furthermore, get creative and publish your blog posts in different formats. For the days that you don’t have time to write a lengthy and detailed post, try posting a simple visual or a short poem instead.

8. Seek assistance and take a break

As a Muslimah mommy, it is normal to feel overwhelmed from time to time; that’s why it is key to ask your loved ones for help. Ask your spouse or family members to watch the children while you work on a few blog post ideas, or just take a break from everything altogether. Often times, taking a small break refreshes your mind and gives you new ideas and instant motivation to get back on track.

9. Network with other blogging sisters

Get in contact with other mommy bloggers and have them write a guest blog post for your blog. Guest blog posts are great if you are not able to write a blog post yourself in certain situations, i.e your children are sick or you are feeling unwell yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to ask other mommy bloggers for advice and tips, and consider reposting some of their blog posts (always ask for permission first) on your blog.

10. Surround yourself with positivity

Be in the presence of individuals that remind you why you started blogging in the place, people who will encourage you, and tell you you are doing a great job! Make lots of du’a to constantly purify your intention, read good books for inspiration and use the stories of pious women as examples to juggle all the different roles we have as Muslim women.
Now you’re ready to pick a topic, theme and title…blog away and remember to share your first post with me! If you have been motivated to start writing or are already blogging, share your inspirations and links below!
Sumaira Zaheer holds a degree in Strategic Management and Organization from the University of Alberta, and is the blessed mother of three active children. Sumaira is also a passionate blogger at, where she shares her experinces, tips, and advice on pregnancy through parenthood, in addition to posts on Islamic parenting and Islamic inspiration. You can also find The Muslimah Mommy on Instagram (@TheMuslimahMommy) and on Facebook (The Muslimah Mommy).

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The Productivity Triangle

I would like to introduce you today to 3 powerful elements of productivity. These are the cornerstone of productivity without which one cannot be productive, and here they are:
  1. Knowledge
  2. Action
  3. Consistency
I call this the Productivity Triangle, and if all 3 element meet in a person, he/she becomes truly productive. But if one element is missing that’s when unproductivity kicks in.
So how do these 3 elements work?
The Productivity Triangle


وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا say, “O my Lord! advance me in knowledge (Taha, Chapter #20, Verse #114)
It all starts with knowledge. Understanding what you need to do, and how to do it. One of the top reasons for people to procrastinate on a project or task is that they do not know how to do it. And they are worried to approach this learning curve out of fear that they may never understand how to do it.
Here’s some good news though: Knowledge can be attained in a number of ways, and I’ve yet to meet someone who has put their mind onto something and failed to gain knowledge in that area. But the key factor here is action, you need to put effort in to gaining knowledge.
Here are top tips to gaining knowledge:
1. Research online/offline:
Al-hamdulillah, the information world is in our finger tips these days and this is a blessing of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) upon us all. I’ve found myself if I lack knowledge in a field, I would firstly go to the Library and pick as many books on the topic as I can, I’ll read some of them and scan through others, then I’ll research online or listen to further audiobooks/podcast on the topic and within a few weeks/months, that knowledge gap would be filled with the permission of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala)
2. Ask an expert/Someone who has done it before:
If there’s something new you need to learn, then know that there’s a teacher out there who’s ready to share his/her knowledge with you. And trust me, no matter how “important” this person is, you’d be surprised how they would love to pass their knowledge to you. Approaching them through associates or friends can be a good start, or a direct e-mail and cold calling can sometimes work. The most important thing is to be persistent until you get what you need from them.
3. Make dua:
Knowledge is a blessing of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) upon you, and it’s enlightening. So if you’re stuck or find yourself not knowing much about a subject and really need to learn about it, ask Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) for help and try some of the above methods to gain what you desire. A word of caution here: Make sure you seek beneficial knowledge, that is knowledge that will be beneficial to you either in this world, or hereafter, or both preferrably!


The value of knowledge without action is zilch! In fact, this brings about the wrath of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) – may Allah protect us. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) described those who had the knowledge but did little action as “those who incurred His anger” in the opening chapter of the Quran. So let’s not be one of them.
But here’s an important point: in one hand we need to remember that we must take action upon the knowledge that we learnt in order to be productive, but we have to understand here that Action/Ability or Skill comes from Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) first and foremost, since without his permission you can’t do anything. That’s why again in the opening chapter we say: “You alone we worship and You alone we seek help from”. So we want to worship Him, but we can’t worship Him without His permission, and this is true servitude to Allah.
When you realise that everything you do, you’re doing it with the permission of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), you’ll be humble in your approach, will seek perfection in all your actions, and you’ll be sincere in what you do.
Also, action starts with you taking the first step. Again, those of us who procrastinate, here’s a killer-productivity technique: Start working on a project/task for just 10 minutes and watch yourself drift to 30-45 minutes. Give yourself a 5 minute break and then start again for ‘just’ 10 minutes. I always say that our ‘nafs’ and self is like a baby, and we have to treat it that way; a bit of encouragement, a bit of scolding, a bit of prize and it’ll get a long just fine.


So, you’ve gained the knowledge, you’ve taken action and after a few days, you flop. You can’t be bothered and you’re not productive anymore. 90% of the productivity complaints is regarding consistency. People normally have no issue in gaining knowledge or taking action, but being consistent that’s when they find it hard.
I’ll admit, this is the hardest stage and there’s no easy answer, but here are some helpful advice:
1. Start small and grow slow
It’s tempting when you’re super excited about a project to jump into it with BIG action and BIG tasks only to find yourself overwhelemed a few days after. Why not start small, build small, and grow slowly over the years? Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said that the most beloved actions to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) are those that are consistent even if they are small.
2. Break it down
Some of the reasons why it’s hard to become consistent in your action is because the action is HUGE or takes a number of tasks to achieve. Try breaking it down and see if there’s better ways of doing it: can you eliminate some steps? Can you delegate some parts?. As the Chinese proverb goes: A journey of 1000 miles starts with one step. My only addition to this is: KEEP WALKING!
3. Check your Intentions
Sometimes when you fail to be consistent on a project, it might be a sign that perhaps your intentions are not pure and sincere. For example, if you’ve tried many times to memorize the Quran and failed, check your hearth, check your intention, who are you doing it for. Normally, when our intentions are pure and when our goals are bigger than ourselves, it’s easier to be consistent inshaAllah.
4. Ask Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) for help
I swear upon the One who created me and you, you cannot be consistent in any task, project, endeavour you’re in  except by His permission. So ask Allah for help in all your matters and ask Him to that He makes you consistent. Most importantly, ask Him to be consistent in your Deen and religion, so that you’re constantly worshipping Him to the best of your ability and improving yourself and those around you.
I hope you found this article beneficial. Can you find practical examples of how Knowledge-Action-Consistency made you productive?

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Analyze your time — Your key to productivity

An old friend of mine once said to me, “There’s a myth that’s going around these days, the myth says: If you can manage your time, you can do anything!”. Four years from hearing this advice, I don’t believe it’s a myth anymore.
We all hear about time management and it’s importance, and people shout at us from time to time that we should time manage properly, but rarely do we hear a concise methodology of how to time manage!
In order to understand how to time manage, you firstly need to understand what time management is about. Time management is not about managing your time, because technically, you cannot manage something you have no control over! (Can you stop, start time?!) – Time management is simply managing yourself in a way that makes use of the time sphere we’re in. So how exactly do we that?
Peter Drucker, author of the famous book “The Effective Executive” (Highly recommended reading)), recommends three steps to managing your time, and he actually calls the chapter that deals with this: “Know thy time”:
  1. Analyze your time.
  2. Cut back unproductive demands.
  3. Aim to complete tasks in large chunks of time.
So let’s get into more details of how to follow the above three steps (adding the usual ProductiveMuslim Islamic twist to it ;)).

Analyze your time:

Record your time over a course of at least a week. I’ll be honest here, it’ll take a strong stomach to realise how much time we waste in a course of a week. But being truthful to oneself is the first step to remedy. There are 2 ways to record your time:
  1. Keep a diary with you recording what you do each hour
  2. Ask your friend/flat-mate/spouse to analyze your time, (as we tend to be nice to ourselves when we record our own time, and end up ‘cheating’)

Cut back unproductive demands:

Hopefully, after recording our time, a sad realization would dawn upon us, and that is, there’s a lot we can cut down from. e.g. do we really need to spend that hour in the cafe in the morning, or is it just better to make some coffee at home and read e-mails at the same time? Do we really need to spend 2 hour everyday just flicking through TV channels or internet sites or can we cut down from that time? (Note: please please don’t cut back from time for Allah! Some people in order to ‘save’ time, will not go to the mosque to pray for example, that’s not an unproductive demand to cut down on, that’s an essential demand which we better keep, so please don’t touch the religious stuff, we’re already guilty of not giving enough time to them, let’s not use this excuse to make it worse!

Aim to complete tasks in large chunks of time:

Isn’t it annoying when you are working on something so hard and you got really into it (sometimes called being in ‘The Zone’) to be interrupted by a phone call or an e-mail alert or text?! This third tip basically says that you should try to block time off in large chunks of time, (some people suggest that 90 minutes is the maximum they can concentrate at one time, but that’s 90 minutes of uninterrupted time). This technique will help you achieve much more by doing less, simply because you’re more focused at one task at a time. Doing one task in one hour, will end up taking you 4 hours if you are interrupted every 10-15 minutes. To help you block your time, refer to our Daily Taskinator.
Well, that’s all for today. Hope this gives you a better understanding of how to turn the myth of time management into reality.

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Feature Article: 18 sources of Barakah!

18 sources of Barakah (Allah's blessings) in our livesIf we were to look for an Islamic definition of Productivity, it can probably be summarised in the word “barakah” or Blessing. Being able to achieve more with few resources, doing much in little time, and generating a lot with little effort is surely a blessing from Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala). Yet Barakah has somehow become a lost treasure these days; everyone’s looking for it, but no one seems to find it! You always hear people complaining that there’s no barakah in their time, no barakah in their sleep, no barakah in their money and the rest of it.
In this article, we’ll solve this mystery inshaAllah: we’ll find out what Barakah is and where you can find it!
What is Barakah?
A Well-known daee explains it as follows:
والبركة: هي ثبوت الخير الإلهي في الشيء؛ فإنها إذا حلت في قليل كثرته، وإذا حلت في كثير نفع، ومن أعظم ثمار البركة في الأمور كلها إستعمالها في طاعة الله عز وجل.
“Barakah is the attachment of Divine goodness to a thing, so if it occurs in something little, it increases it. And if it occurs in something much it benefits. And the greatest fruits of Barakah in all things is to use that barakah in the obedience of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala)”

Sources of Barakah

I’m a firm believer that Barakah is not a lost treasure, rather, it’s right in front of our eyes! This treasure is only available and ready to be handed over to the one who works for it. Below, I list some of the sources of Barakah. It’s not an exhaustive list, therefore, I do hope you can contribute to it with your comments inshaAllah so we can all share and extend our understanding of this great treasure at!

1. Good Intentions

If you want something to have barakah attached to it, have good intentions for it. More specifically, make sure that deed is intended for the sake of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala). Looking again at the definition of Barakah, you may guess that without us intending what we have or do for the Sake of Allah, the “Divine goodness” won’t be found in our deeds.

2. Piety and Belief in Allah

Allah says in the Quran: “If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them (All kinds of) blessings from heaven and earth…”(Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 96). And He says in the Quran: “And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine” (Surah Al-Talaq, Verses 2-3).

3. Putting your trust in Allah

Allah says in the Quran: “And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Surah Al-Talaq, verses 3)
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If only you relied on Allah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds: They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs. (Ahmad, An-Nasa’I, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim and At-Tirmidhi)

4. Reading Quran

This is the fountain of Barakah! But subhanaAllah, we rarely drink from it! Allah says in the Quran: “And this is a Book which We have sent down, bringing blessings, and confirming (the revelations) which came before it…” (Surah Al-An’am, Verse 92). So read the Quran, and observe the blessings and barakah of Allah enter your life. The further we are from this Book of Guidance, the less barakah we will have in our lives.

5. Saying Bismillah

When you say “Bismillah” before anything you do, you’re invoking the Name of Allah on that activity; not only will that activity be blessed but shaytaan cannot take part in it! So always say “Bismillah” before anything you do! mSubhanaAllah, it’s easy for us to forget to say “Bismillah”. Sometimes we’re so used to saying it that we cannot remember whether we said it or not! Try to be conscious of saying “Bismillah” and understand what you’re saying before your action is performed.

6. Eating with People

Anyone who has had the experience of inviting guests to his/her house will know this one. No matter how little you think the food you’re presenting to your guest is, it’s always more than enough! (Note: this is not an excuse to be miserly when you invite guests over; in fact we should follow the Sunnah of our Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) whom when visited by the angels prepared a large meal for them). What I’m referring to here is the blessing that occurs when eating together, confirmed in the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said: “Eat together, for blessing is in Jamma’a (congregation or being together)…” and in another hadeeth: “Whoever has food enough for two persons, should take a third one, and whoever has food enough for four persons, should take a fifth or a sixth (or said something similar).” (Bukhari, Volume 4. Book 56. Number 781)

7. Honesty in Trade

This is for all of the business people out there (include ebayers!). We shouldn’t assume lying and deceiving people will make our trade profitable. On the contrary, it will remove the blessing from your trade. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The buyer and the seller have the option of canceling or confirming the bargain unless they separate, and if they spoke the truth and made clear the defects of the goods, then they would be blessed in their bargain, and if they told lies and hid some facts, their bargain would be deprived of Allah’s blessings”.( Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, Number 293)
Yes, it’s difficult to be honest when you’re trying to sell something, but trust me it’s worth it.

8. Dua

Ask Allah for barakah! If you take note of some of the Duas of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) you’ll notice that the Prophet used to make dua for barakah. We always say: “May Allah bless you!” Well, guess what? That’s a source of barakah! Also, when you’re invited to someone’s house, Prophet Muhammad advised us to make the following dua for the host: “O Allah, bless for them, that which You have provided them, forgive them and have mercy upon them.”

9. Halal Income/money

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “O people, Allah is good and He therefore, accepts only that which is good” (Scholars say this refers to Halal income and the importance of it).
A scholar also said of the one who eats Haram, that his limbs will disobey Allah whether he likes it or not, and that the one who eats Halal and seeks Halal income, his limbs will also do good and will be given the permission to seek goodness.
This concept of your limbs being ‘blessed’ and enabled to do good is truly a blessing and a barakah we should all seek. It reminds me of a story of an old man who jumped a large distance that the young men were unable to jump. When the young men asked the old man how he did it, he replied: “These are our limbs: we protected them from committing sins when we were young, so Allah preserved them for us when we got old”.

10. Following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad in everything

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most Productive Man in the history of humanity is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Therefore, by simply following his lifestyle and the acts of Sunnah we so often hear about, we obtain a great source of Barakah!
Some of these Sunnahs include: eating Suhoor, eating with the right hand from the side of the plate, going out for Eid Salah, licking your fingers after finishing your meal, sleeping on your right hand side, using the siwaak, and many more. Look out for these Sunnahs and follow them, for imitating the life of the most blessed man on earth is surely a source of blessing!

11. Praying Istikhara

Praying istikhara in all matters and then leaving the outcome to Allah as well as accepting His Decree is a great source of barakah. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us this beautiful dua which helps us make decisions and not regret the choices we make in the following hadeeth:
On the authority of Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the Qur’an. He (peace be upon him) would say: ‘If any of you intends to undertake a matter then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah optional nafil) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:
‘O Allah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favour, for verily You are able while I am not and verily You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allaah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.”
One who seeks guidance from his Creator and consults his fellow believers and then remains firm in his resolve does not regret for Allah has said:
‘…and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah…” [Quran 3: 159]

12. Giving thanks to Allah in abundance

Allah says in the Quran: “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you”. A scholar once told me that if one looks into this verse, the Arabic word that is used to confirm that Allah Wills favours unto the person who thanks Him is actually in the form of an Oath – “La azidannakum”. So Allah is promising the person who thanks Him an increase in goodness and blessings, and Allah never breaks His promises.

13. Charity

In a Hadeeth Qudsi, Allah says: “O son of Adam, spend (in charity), and I’ll spend on you!” Whenever you are broke, or you feel barakah is zapped out of your life and urgently need it to return, the quickest of way of gaining barakah in your life can be through giving charity. For example, let’s say barakah was removed from your life due to a sin you committed; charity cleanses your sins, adds good deeds and is a source of barakah.
I cannot describe the instantaneous gratification of giving charity and the barakah that follows it. Try it NOW!

14. Tying your ties of kinship

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah created His creation, and when He had finished it, the womb, got up and caught hold of Allah whereupon Allah said, “What is the matter?’ On that, it said, “I seek refuge with you from those who sever the ties of Kith and kin.” On that Allah said, “Will you be satisfied if I bestow My favours on him who keeps your ties, and withhold My favours from him who severs your ties?” On that it said, “Yes, O my Lord!” Then Allah said, “That is for you.” Abu Huraira added: “If you wish, you can recite: ‘Would you then if you were given the authority do mischief in the land and sever your ties of kinship?” (Bukhari, Volume 6. Book 60. Number 354)

15. Waking up early

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah.”(Ahmed)
This hadeeth was what spurred me to create! Such gems of productivity are the sources of blessings which we should seek to make our life productive. Waking up early is such an important step to being blessed and feeling good throughout your day.
Try to wake up for Tahajjud, and then work during the hours before Fajr Salah. If you cannot, then at least wake up for Fajr and stay up till sunrise before you return to sleep. Those hours are filled with Barakah. If you’re able to go to work in those hours, do so, you’ll get much more work done than the whole day put together!

16. Marriage

Allah says in the Quran: “Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and He Knoweth all things.” (Quran 24:32)
Speaking of marriage, I highly recommend the following training course to anyone seriously thinking of getting married:

17. Salah

Allah says in the Quran: “Enjoin prayer on thy people, and be constant therein. We ask thee not to provide sustenance: We provide it for thee. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness”. To illustrate the point of Salah further, just imagine your life without this great act of ibadah. Where would Barakah come from? For those of you who are still wavering in your Salah, please get back on track; this is your lifeline for the final destination in the hereafter, and the daily food for your soul.

18. Asking Allah for forgiveness

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone continually asks forgiveness from Allah, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.”
I hope this covers most of the sources of Barakah, but as I said before, this is not an exhaustive list. Please add your sources and recommend more tips for us to share!

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