The Key to Productivity: Making the Most of Time
A new week has arrived and you tell yourself you have so many tasks to complete. Yet, by the end of the week, barely any of these tasks are near completion. You sit and ask yourself “Where has the week gone?” and enter a period of stress racing against time. Sound familiar?
For as long as I can remember, this has always been a bad habit of mine. I will leave things until later, but that later never comes. By the time deadlines have approached, or someone’s nagging me for something I should have done weeks ago, I am just a lost ball of stress with so much to do that I do not even know where to start – and the cycle repeats itself endlessly.
Narrated by ibn Abbas: Allah’s Apostle said:
“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.”
[Musnad Imam Ahmad]
Free time before you become busy? Think about it, there are 168 hours in one single week but how much time do we waste? In reality, a lot! We get caught up with worldly matters and finding out the latest gossips on social networking or through the television we forget to refocus ourselves and waste the blessing of time.
Eventually, I came to the realisation that no matter how quickly time goes by, it is one thing that we cannot claim back. Ever. We are all born with time, but it is not negotiable nor can we buy it, it is fixed. Time spent wisely does not solely have to be purely on religious deeds, but we can still learn things that can benefit us and others with the correct intention, and increase our productivity and relieve our stress in the long run.
After putting a few strategies into place to do exactly that, I felt they would be useful to share so others may benefit too. And Insha’Allah, leave you feeling a little more relaxed, focused and in control (small changes can make a huge difference!):
Analyse your time
We feel we do not have enough time, but that does not mean that is the case. One way to assess our time is to indeed analyse how we spend our time. What exactly are we doing with 168 hours? Make a short time log of your day, or reflect on your time spent at the end of the day. If you have not done anything that matters or is important – that is precious wasted time!
When I first did this, I was utterly stunned when I realised how much time I wasted by simply treating leisure time too leisurely. I like to go with the flow a lot, but in doing so time passes by through procrastination. I personally find my phone a distraction, so I have limited my time spent on it massively.
Work out your goals
“Knowing your goals will help you plan better and focus on the things that will help you achieve those goals”
What would you like to achieve? They can be lifelong dreams, near or far dreams – jot them down! If we want to move in a certain direction we must know what our goals are, right? When you have a clear vision of your goals, it is useful to ask yourself whether what you are doing now is working towards it, or is a distraction rather than a contribution.
Another thing I find particular useful is to make a note of how you want to develop as a person and use it as a motivating and guiding principle which will in the long run, allow you to improve your character and inner self as you go along.
Once you have worked out your goals, tasks that need to be completed or things you would like to achieve arrange them into categories. So, the most urgent tasks should come first in the list. These would be your obligatory acts and tasks that have vastly approaching deadlines. Next, the urgent and important tasks, then urgent but not so important and neither urgent nor important. This will help in cutting down time spent being unproductive and spending unnecessary time on the not so urgent things and enable you to focus on what really matters, rather than cluttering your mind with unnecessary information and attempting to multi-task.
Work out how you are going to achieve your goals and achievements and construct a short-term, or long-term plan in order to keep you focussed but remember, keep it realistic!
Even if you have a great memory, it is still a motivating incentive to make a list and it is also good for improving your organisational skills, and controlling how you spend your time. I found by doing so I am able to balance my time and get a lot more done, it gave me a sense of control, and I felt that I could still have time to have a break!
Another tip I found particularly useful during my time at university was to arrange time into chunks. I would take away all unnecessary distractions (putting my phone on aeroplane mode for a start!), and aim to solely work uninterrupted for a certain amount of time, or work to an aim of a certain amount of words. Take a short break, and repeat the cycle! It is much more effective this way than having large unnecessary breaks, or working non-stop that your mind shuts off.
PS. Learn to plan your life around Salah (Prayer) and not Salah around your life and you will see massive improvements in your personal well-being and how your day flows, insha’Allah. Praying on time also enhances your personal discipline, which is not a particularly bad thing when it comes to time management.
Sleeping Pattern (What’s that?)
I am often known as an early-bird since practically forever! I have found this way I am so much more productive and the daytime hours are not wasted through sleep. Your mind is more refreshed and focussed in the morning, and I have found by having a good sleeping schedule productivity increases.
Although, I often have issues getting to sleep which I find myself scrolling through just about everything on my phone for hours – Time wasting? Check! The key is to utilize your time, and no, that does not mean to scroll endlessly through every social networking site possible. Read a book, gain knowledge, watch a lecture, pray, read the Quran; there are so many things we can do to utilize our time! Be creative.
I hope these small tips are of benefit, especially with the month of Ramadan vastly approaching! If I remember any more I will for sure edit this most and keep you updated, insha’Allah.
“A sane person, unless he is mindless, should have four hours: an hour to invoke to his Lord, an hour to count his own deeds, an hour to contemplate about the creation of Allah and an hour to satisfy his worldly needs.”