Desk for work

Fight Un-productivity

f38b1ea3a56399e86f726e0add8665e0We all go through phases where we get so unproductive and blocked in our creativity with no way to fight that mood. It can be extremely frustrating if it hits randomly or at a time when you need to be at optimal productivity. I’ve been through it recently and when I got out of it I thought why not share some of the techniques I often use.

  • You don’t have to switch cold turkey; play an non-distracting show in the background like “Friends” or music that you enjoy.
  • Use tools that block websites that distract you such as gofuckingwork.com or motivational organizers like momentumdash.com
  • Create a detailed task list and write it somewhere very visible. Write it on a white board, a window, a mirror, or a large poster.
  • Write in a journal to help clear your head and reflect on what is blocking you.
  • Split the tasks between different days then chunk each day into sections where you focus on each subject matter at a time.
  • Now get to work. Good Luck!

Let me now what techniques you use? I would love to try them out no matter how small and simple they may be.

Ethical Fashion

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Illustration by Inslee Haynes

We stand in front of a mirror each morning with a different mood. Some days we feel like we have nothing to wear, and others we dress up to flaunt how confident we feel that particular day. What we forget to consider is where these stylish pieces of clothing are coming from other than the big brand we bought them from. I never considered it until I came across Connect One Threads when I was part of the organizing team of a TEDx conference where the founder, Jeremy, performed a spoken word talk about organic cotton.

The way a simple fabric such as cotton can go on a path that touches so many levels of our world such as the environment, the farmers’ lives, and the people working in the factories made me think again before mindlessly purchasing another cute must-have tee. Since then, I have looked into how some of the brands I buy from manufacture their “affordable” yet trendy clothes and I found many labor infractions and child labor allegations. I also learned about how these large brands affect the small creative artisan who hand makes their products and decided to be more conscious in my fashion choices.

I implore every one of you to think before you buy and to consider supporting local makers and artisans by buying their unique products and incorporating them into your wardrobe.

Design Love

Design mood boardWe all seem to have an appreciation for design and how it caters to our brain’s perception of beauty to turn the utilitarian world around us to one that mimics the grace of nature. I’ve always held designers at high esteem because I consider design to be a way of looking at the world, of bending it to our will and creatively solving problems, be they emotional or actual.

I’ve recently realized that perhaps my infatuation with design is more than a passing phase, but rather a discipline that can enrich my work. That has led me to a rabbit hole that I am still falling through as I write this. I am loving the new possibilities of looking at psychology, social work and education from a design perspective and I’ll do my best to post weekly and keep sharing what I come across during this dive.

You can follow me on social and let me know what you think:

Facebook // Inspirecorpblog

Instagram // @jijimoussa
Snapchat // jijimoussa
Pinterest // Jiji B. AND missinspirecorp

Student-Centered Education

kid playing but cagedLooking at the education systems around me, I cannot help but feel baffled and disappointed. How are you preparing a kid to be successful in 2025 by overloading them with coursework and homework? The whole point behind education is to provide a child with the necessary knowledge and skills to creatively solve any problem they may face.

Historically, this was being done right with open space classrooms and learning combined with practice in a family trade. Established schools also did this right as early as 1890s with the emergence of the Montessori system in Italy when Maria Montessori opened a small preschool called Casa Dei Bambini. The Montessori system focuses on hands on learning using tools that promote the growth of all 5 senses.

Jean-Ovide Decroly promoted a similar practice based pedagogy in Belgium in the 1900s and some of the brightest students in the top raking University in Belgium are from Decroly schools. They learn how to learn rather than just get given a load of information to memorize. Memorization does not help in our rapidly changing world but rather the ability to analyze the wave of information we receive and knowing how to make good use of it.

Many people know that practice based education is the way to go; nowadays its called Student-centered education (as if there is a possibility for education to be centered around anyone else). Canada uses the Montessori system in its public schools and there is a large community of Home schooled kids whose parents use the Montessori system. Harvard’s school of education has launched a project called Agency by Design and there are several Tinkering Schools and camps that are open in the west with hopefully more spreading around the world.

So perhaps if we can’t put our kids in a school that relies on these “alternative” methods of education, we can at least make sure that their free time is full of hands on activities and they have the space and freedom to explore and experiment.

Asking the Right Questions

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With so many things to get done and a clock ticking on a bunch of deadlines, my creative moments have become few and far in between. One thing though that has come out from this busy life of working two jobs and studying a Master’s degree is a lot of assessment of what is worthy of my time and how to maximize my productivity. To tackle the latter, a group of close friends and I started a weekly meeting where we assess our habits, set goals (and keep each other accountable to them) and learn new skills in personal development.

The questions I’ve been raising in my self assessment have been occupying a significant portion of my thoughts and might spark some questions of your own. I’ll try to organize it in a way that might make sense; I’ll start internally (soul) and move outwards (career). I’ve been neglecting the time I give to my spiritual practice and thus it has stagnated. In order to improve my focus in prayer and reap the rewards of its meditative qualities I’m returning to practicing yoga which reflects many aspects already existent in my prayer but makes me more conscious of them. The question becomes, am I doing enough? and what level of spiritual awakening do I want to reach and how do I get there?

Working all the time also means that I stopped working out and doing the cliched employee thing of eating out. So scratch that and gotta get back to working out. It made me realize how big of a part my physical health plays in my mood. When I know I am taking care of myself I just act a lot more confidently and gracefully. This part though tests my willpower the most. So it got me to question how to make the process much more efficient so I almost don’t have an excuse. Your advice is welcome.

I also realized that in the work I do, I am more satisfied when it requires creativity. This realization highlighted gaps in my skill set which need to be filled asap. I need to learn things such as using Adobe illustrator, Photoshop, final cut pro etc. There are so many possibilities if only you have the tools. This also made me question the current work I do and what I am studying. Although I do love what I am studying, I definitely don’t want to practice it in the typical way. But then, how do I practice it? and how do I gain the appropriate technical ability?

I also know for sure that I want to start a business. Do I have what it takes though? How do you even find the right team? and more importantly, do I have the time? These questions lead to infinitely more detailed questions such as what will my thesis research be on? Its a lot of questions but at least asking the right question is the first step to finding the solution and maybe, just maybe, the right question is somewhere in there.

 

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Why College?

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I’ve heard many people debate the merit and value of going to college by comparing the transferability of a college degree to its cost.

A degree in something that you aren’t interested in at all is definitely a waste of money but if you have an idea of what you might be interested in and you can afford to go to college then go! You will never have the educational incubator that college provides you with on your own.

Can you imagine studying everyday, researching, writing and delving deeply into a topic for 3 to 4 years on your own?! University gives you that! It provides you with a concentrated immersion in knowledge with is highly valuable and not easily replicable. It also provides you with a number of people around you who are experienced in that field (professors) and other who are just as interested in it as you are (classmates).

A debate about the merit of college lacks value if it does not include this essential component. Now that you have given this some thought, do what is right for you.

(Here is a list of scholarships from my Tumblr blog)

move on do better

On Blogging

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I’ve been feeling increasingly introspective as of late about the additive value of blogging, to myself and to others as well. I tend to feel this way when I start becoming more perfectionistic about blogging. I begin to limit the things I should write about to the “focus” of the blog instead of it being just about things I care about. So in an effort to combat this and continue with my commitment to being open with you guys, I would like to let you know what has been on my mind lately and what I might be sharing in the upcoming weeks.

I have been focused more on child care, interfaith relations, writing, social enterprises as well as organization in planning. I’m also interested in exploring learning through practice and application. I will share with you things that I am learning about, exploring or questioning. I am not an authority on these matters, I am simply a curious scholar.

في الفترة الأخيرة تسائلت كثيرا عن فائدة هذا المنتدى و قيمته المضافة لنفسي و للغير. اعتدت أن أحس هكذا عندما ألج الى التركيز على المثالية بدلا من الكتابة في كل المواضيع التي تهمني. لذلك سأحاول محاربة تلك المثالية المحبطة من خلال مشاركتكم أفكاري بكل صراحة و شفافية

.المواضيع اللتي اهتميت بها تتعلق بالعناية بالأطفال العلاقات بين الأديان الكتابة المؤسسات الاجتماعية و ترتيب التخطيط الشخصي بعض ما قد أشاركه من مواقع و فيديوهات قد تكون فقط بالغة الانجليزية فاعتذر لذلك مسبقا

Energy curve

Value and Authenticity

Energy curvePhoto by: Dina Belenko

In the work we do, be it business, social work or personal endeavors, one question that I believe is very important to ask is “what value am I adding?” Value is not defined by material gain but rather by the direct fulfillment of need. The identification and fulfillment of need is what corporations scramble to do in order to dominate a certain market and it is what organizations devote time and money to research before embarking on a project.

This illustrates that value addition and the subsequent perceived importance of one’s work does not come from pure originality but rather the ability to add value by correctly identifying need. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Big Magic, referred to one focusing on the value of their work rather than originality as authenticity. Keep in mind that this need could be a very personal one.

القيمة المضافة في عملنا لا تحدد من خلال المدخول المالي بل بمدى تأديته لحاجة المجتمع المدني و هذا ينطبق على العمل     التجاري و الخيري. لذلك تنجح الشركات التي تستطيع التعرف على الحاجة و تاديتها و تنفق الجمعات الاموال و الطاقات في      الدراسات لكي تتعرف على الحاجة قبل شروعها في العمل على مشروع ما

 هذا يبين لنا ان أصالة عملنا ليست مربوطة بالتجديد و الابداع بل بتأدية الحاجة. و كما قالت الكاتبة اليزابث جلبرت يكفي أن تكون قيمة مضافة في عملنا ليكون أصليا

Changes announcement

Updates // مستجدات

Changes announcement

There are some exciting new things happening on the site so let me update you. The first is that Inspirecorp is becoming bilingual! It only makes sense since the region of our focus is the Middle East and North Africa. Considering that I am Moroccan American, it is only a step towards being true to who I am. New collaborations are also happening with new writers joining the team and collaborations with other bloggers. If you would like to contribute then contact me!

لقد قررت اضافة اللغة العربية للموقع لأن موقعنا في العالم العربي و سيضاف الينا بعض المشاركين الجدد منهم كتاب ومصورون. اذا أردت مشاركتنا  بأفكارك أو كتاباتك فأرسل الينا رسالة على البريد الالكتروني

Perseverance

2013 Shay Cochrane

Photo by: Shay Cochrane

While out on a picnic, I got to watching a group of ants struggling to carry sunflower seeds to add to their winter stash. The tediousness of the task and how they kept falling over while carrying the sunflower seeds was comedic but the fact that they didn’t give up was actually inspiring. We can definitely learn from that to keep getting up and trying even after we fail until we get the results we want.

It also reminds me of a study that was conducted to find out why there is a stereotype of Asians being smarter. The study compared American kids and Japanese kids in solving puzzles and the results showed that the only difference is that American kids give up after a few minutes while Japanese kids continue for an average of 30 minutes before giving up. So main lesson is: Perseverance!

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