It gives me a sense of relief to realise that I am not the only one juggling various roles. From being a mummy to a wife to a nanny to a driver to a cook to a baby sitter to a tutor to a janitor to a nurse to a teacher to a student and what not…the list seems endless.Being a mother of three proactive children of different ages my hands (and er… feet) have always been full, Alhamdulillah but I’ve always felt the need to do something that would have a lasting impact on them and would leave them with something substantial even after I’m gone. I realised that could only be the knowledge of deen and its practical application.However, as I was already on a roller coaster ride with the kind of eventful life I had, it seemed almost impossible for me to even think of finding time to pursue my ambitious plans. So despite still being naïve and ignorant about the importance of having a significant purpose in life and being clueless about how to fit it all in within my already crazy routine, I felt the urge to embark on a promising journey for my family and myself, so I did.
The growing sense of anxiety leaves you restless when you realise the preciousness of time and the urgency it carries, while striving to work for both dunia and akhira without witnessing any substantial move towards the actualisation of your goals.
So now here was I, rushing from this to that, shifting places and switching roles, trying to handle all that came my way while feeling drained, stressed and exhausted with very little or no spare time whatsoever.
Despite following an organised routine my stress levels were skyrocketing. Worse was the sense of incompetence that lingered with an unfinished routine. I realised that being organised was not the only thing that would help. I needed to get a grip on my time to get the kind of life I was aiming for.
Does this sound familiar? Has this role shift within long waking hours drained and stressed you? Are you finding it difficult to complete your tasks? Are you feeling a sense of loss as you try to interweave the different aspects of your life? Most importantly are you unable to find time for yourself? If your answer is yes, then your life could use a serious change with a strong grip on your time, inshaAllah.
Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Grab five things before five others: your youth before your decrepitude, your health before your illness, your wealth before your poverty, your leisure before your work, and your life before your death.” [al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak]
You might doubt the possibility of accommodating your routine within a day without feeling stressed but trust me ‘impossible’ is just a state of mind, something that your brain has accepted and given in to. For a determined believer ‘impossible’ is nothing more than a powerless word.
Allow me to help you with a time management plan that has brought a significant change to my life, alhamdulillah. I listened to lectures by various time management experts and international speakers, I read articles on how to manage my time effectively and finally I devised a problem free plan that I believe will help those who respect their time and want to make the most of their lives. This plan does not require hours of planning every day and will help you untangle your life, inshaAllah.
This time management plan has alhamdulillah helped me continue to seek knowledge, teach, contribute as a free lance writer, manage my nine year old daughter’s personal blog and manage a magazine in addition to all the other tasks that I mentioned earlier in this article. The best part is after having done all this I still get time for my family and the spare time that I had been craving for, alhamdulillah katheeran. Indeed all khair is from Allah alone.
So, are you all geared up for the much needed change? Yes! Grab a note pad and get……set……go!
TIPS TO MANAGE YOUR TIME EFFECTIVELY
Sincere Intention and Strong Resolve
Have a sincere intention and strong resolve to take charge of your time through patience and perseverance in order to make the most of your life and to please your Creator.
Praying on Time
To be blessed with the barakah in your time you must strive to pray on time and design your day around the five obligatory prayers. This way you’ll automatically get batches of work done with five breaks in between them.
Staying up after Fajr
You will notice that if you continue with your daily routine right after Fajr, you’ll get much more work done than in the whole day put together.
Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:
“Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah.” (Ahmed)
Make sincere and ardent dua’a to Allah for barakah in your time. The morning dua (below) can be recited for this purpose.
We have entered a new day and with it all the dominion which belongs to Allah, Lord of all that exists. Oh Allah, I ask You for the goodness of this day, its victory, its help, its light, its blessings, and its guidance. I seek refuge in You from the evil that is in it and from the evil that follows it.
Have a clear focus regarding what you want to achieve in life. Set goals that are pleasing to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa). Once your goals are determined, you can design your days, weeks, months and years according to those goals.
I will inshaAllah, elaborately explain how to set long term ambitions in my upcoming article but for now, being Muslims, we all need to plan our routine around the following areas of life, which implies that each day of ours should consist of the following three segments:
Ibadah (Worship): Decide how much time you intend to allot for your regular ibadah, which includes your salah, adhkaar, Quran recitation etc.
Ilm (Knowledge): You need to keep an empty slot for seeking religious knowledge either in the form of formal education or online classes or even listening to Islamic lectures. Being a believer, this is very important for your personal development and tazkiyyah e nafs (soul purification), something you cannot afford to neglect.
Muamilaat (Dealings): This category involves your worldly dealings with regards to work, family, relatives, friends etc.
Prepare your routine or checklist of tasks to be done, an evening before. Before that you must know your list of priorities, from mundane to critical, in order to create an effective checklist.
Prioritise tasks according to the level of productivity and how important it is for you to accomplish them e.g. what should you choose between making a phone call to a friend or memorising your Quran lesson?
A very smart and effective way to get a grip on your time is to identify your productive slots. Distinguish the times when you have most energy to do those tasks that require you to be mentally and physically focused e.g. If you are more active and alert in the morning then use that time for memorizing a few ayahs as opposed to washing dishes.
Get rid of bad habits like laziness and oversleeping. They work as black holes that suck up all your positive energy leaving you lethargic and dull.
Studies have proven that if you start a task, put it down and come back to it later then it takes 500% more effort than it otherwise would. Therefore, try to complete the task once you start it.
Set a deadline ahead of time with some room to spare e.g. if you were supposed to have finished your cooking by 1:00 pm, set a deadline for 12:00 noon, as this reduces stress and anxiety.
Pre-select your break while setting your deadlines and reward yourself after having accomplished a particular task. Train yourself to have a positive consequence for everything that needs to be done. For example, if you have allotted one hour for a chore, decide to have a ten-minute break afterwards and reward yourself with a cup of tea or a snack before starting a new task. However, it’s important not to allow yourself to have a prolonged break.
There are two types of procrastination; positive and negative. For effective time management you need to use positive procrastination, which is when you delay unimportant tasks in order to accomplish the important ones.
Out-source your mundane chores such as cleaning, laundry etc if possible. Do not waste your productive time in doing mundane stuff. If you cannot delegate or get help then use less productive time to carry out the mundane jobs.
Identify time wasters and delete these distractions. Some of the biggest time wasters are: television, internet, phone, etc. If you are unable to delete them completely then minimize their use. Assign a short period of time for using your technology and stick to the time slot. Use the phone as a tool, not a luxury and use it for important things while keeping your conversations short and to the point.
Group Your Tasks
Put similar tasks in batches and perform them together e.g. If you need to email people, decide a time in which you can send all the emails before moving on to the next batch of tasks.
Chunks of Time
Allot blocks of time to get important work done. You can get an entire day’s work done in 3 to 4 uninterrupted hours.
Being neat and tidying up your surroundings has been proven to increase productivity. It can untangle your brain and allow you to use your intelligence to achieve bigger goals rather than wasting time struggling to find things in a cluttered place.
Learn to Say No, Politely
According to statistics only 5% people truly value their time. Therefore, most people will not value yours and probably would not even consider meaningless activities as time wasters. Hence, you need to learn to say no, in a polite manner, in order to save your time from being wasted.
To achieve more from life you need to learn to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle by developing healthy eating habits and by establishing adequate sleep patterns.
Strive for Ihsan (utmost good)
Strive to do everything with ihsan (utmost good) with the intention of pleasing Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa). This will add meaning to your routine, will raise your mundane struggles into acts of worship and will add barakah to your life, inshaAllah.
Time is eternal success. Not valuing your time implies not valuing your life. Make the most of the time that has been gifted to you to work for the life that you’d die for!
Sheikh Muhammad Al Shareef
Sheikh Ismail Kamdar
This article was first published in Muslimaat Magazine.