Time Management

Powerful Time Management Systems for Busy Career Muslims

Guest Post By Dr. Aimen Of The Muslim Youth Programme

Powerful Time Management Systems for Busy Career Muslims

Busy Muslims

“I can’t manage my time as well as other successful Muslims do”.

“I’m busier than most people”.

“I’ve tried to follow some time management tips. I even downloaded top productivity apps but nothing seems to work for long!”

Would you agree with any of the statements above? This is real stuff that real Muslims have said to me.

We all like to think of ourselves as special unicorns when it comes to time management, but the reality is almost ALL of us can relate to the statements above.

So how come some Muslims seem to get a ginormous amount of work done and still manage to spend quality time with family yet the rest of us struggle to just get through the day?

Here’s the harsh truth:

  1. All of us have the same amount of hours in a day. But only some of us manage our time really well.
  2. You can download ALL the productivity apps in the world and learn every tactic in the book, but if you don’t make these basic changes in your life, you’ll never be able to manage your time. That’s how harsh the reality is.

What basic changes am I talking about? And how can I say this with such confidence? Read on to find out.

THE BROAD-TO-NARROW APPROACH:

When it comes to time management, approach it with a broad-to-narrow mindset.

The broadest area that needs to be managed first covers all your fundamentals.

Fundamentals include sleep, environment, workplace, diet etc. If you fail to optimize your environment for productivity, nothing else matters. The funny thing is, most of us ignore this saying that it’s the same old advice we hear from our grandmothers. Well, turns out our grandmas are most definitely right.

That’s precisely why if you think an app will help you manage your time, you have already lost.

Only AFTER you have optimized your environment (home as well as work), should you start focusing on other things like motivation, discipline, eliminating time-wasters, planning, delegating tasks etc.

 

COVERING THE BASICS: 4 ridiculously simple fundamentals we all know but don’t follow

If you get these straight, you are way ahead of 90% of Muslims struggling with time management.

# 1: 7-8 Hours of sleep. Every. Night.

Sounds like boring advice right? Maybe you’re nodding and saying “yeah I get it”. But very few of you are actually going to take it seriously and fix your sleeping routine.

Today, sleep is seen as some kind of weakness. People who sleep less than 7 hours and work more are identified as productivity gurus. The truth is less sleep makes you physically weak and mentally unfocused.

According to the teachings of our Prophet (S.A.W) sleep holds a HUGE place in the productivity matrix. Prophet (S.A.W) gave detailed guidelines covering the importance of sleeping early, duration of sleep, the manners of sleeping, mid-day naps, sleep position etc. So consider sleep as a blessing from Allah.

And among his signs is your sleep by night and by day and your seeking of His bounty, verily in that are Signs for those who hearken” 

[Quran, Surah Rum 30: Ayah 23]

If we don’t fix this fundamental part of our life following guidelines from Sunnah, we just can’t expect to be productive Muslims.  Also, once you get in the habit of sleeping 7-8 hours each night, the remaining parts of this time management system will become way easier.

# 2: Get yourself, your room and your work-place organized.

Let me tell you a weird thing I do. I clear my head a minimum of 7 times a day. I know- C.R.A.Z.Y. But. It helps declutter my mind and keeps me focused while working.

Do you have to be as weird as me to be productive? Absolutely not. Then how does this translate for you?

Do whatever floats your boat to declutter your mind, your work/ study space, your room etc. (Don’t go overboard and start decluttering your entire neighborhood :D).

The habit of decluttering will save you HOURS each day. It will also save you from unnecessary stress and overwhelm you feel because of a messy environment. Remember, overwhelm is one of the biggest killers of productivity.

Here are a few ways you can declutter your mind:

  • If you are a worrywart and tend to overthink things a lot, set aside 15 minutes of your time to just worry. As you catch yourself worrying during any other time of the day, remind yourself that it’s not time to worry yet. When it’s time to worry, sit down and worry. But this way, you won’t allow your regular worries to take over your entire
  • Talk to yourself. Out LOUD. It’s insanely effective. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed and are overthinking things, step outside where nobody can hear you and say all the thoughts that are bothering you out loud. It will free up space inside your brain and you will come back to work feeling strangely relieved. This is what I personally do every day to declutter my mind.
  • If you are a Journal-lover, then keep a plain/ bullet journal where you can create mind-maps of your thoughts to organize them. I create mind-maps before working on complicated projects.

Here are a few ways you can declutter your work zone by removing distractions:

  • Remove all unnecessary objects from your work space (extra books that you won’t be reading that day, magazines, rough papers etc.)
  • Put your phone, iPad and all unnecessary gadgets away (or on flight mode) while working.
  • Close all extra tabs on your laptop.
  • If you have a stay-at-home job, create a separate area for work (that’s NOT your bedroom).
  • Stick daily reminders of the most important tasks for the day on your notice board (if you don’t have it, DIY it) or table using sticky notes.
  • Decide what piles of paper and stationery goes in the drawers and what stays on your desk.
  • Designate different drawers for particular things such as older files/ books, stationery, paper cups etc.
  • Make a habit of decluttering your work table at the end of every workday.

# 3: Your DAILY schedule and routine matters the MOST.

Do you follow routines? If you don’t, you better start now.

If you believe that you can manage your time most efficiently without a productive morning (and night) routine, think again.

Have you ever wondered why Allah S.W.T made 5 prayers on fixed times every day obligatory upon us?

One of the many reasons could be that this Fard (obligatory) act of Ibadah teaches us the importance of regularity and consistency.

Knowing when you’ll sleep and wake up each day is one of the most important fundamentals of time management.

Want to take your productivity a step forward? Create a morning routine according to the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (S.A.W). Stay awake after Fajr prayer, read Quran, make dua, exercise, plan your day and pray Salah-tul-Duha before you go to work.

A productive morning routine will add the special power ingredient to your time: Barakah.

# 4: Be mindful of the people you surround yourself with.

Think about the people you interact with regularly. Do you let them steal your time (unintentionally) with idle talk?

While we are too busy focusing on productivity apps and cool time management techniques, we forget to notice the amount of time we waste being in the company of slackers.

Stay away from slackers who waste time talking.

The Prophet SAW said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say what is good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Avoid being in the company of idle people at your workplace or college because you’ll not only waste time that way but also lose Barakah from your day, not to mention become prone to gossiping or backbiting.

Instead, try and surround yourself with productive Muslims who value time. I assure you that you’ll feel the difference in your energy levels as well as the number of tasks you’ll be able to accomplish on such days.

Now that we’ve covered our basics, let me introduce you to the concept of creating planning SYSTEMS in your life that will save you countless hours each week.

 

Creating Weekly and Daily Planning Systems

 

Here’s the way I see things: Weekly and daily plans are essential for maximizing productivity.

Set up your planning system once and you’re done forever. From that point on, all you have to do is follow it.

For busy career Muslims, I can understand how difficult it is to follow plans. But trust me when I say this: Efficient plans should make things easier for you not harder.

If you can never manage to follow your plan then I’m going to be honest with you and say that you’re probably doing something wrong while planning. And that’s fine. Because today I want to give you a clear outline you can follow while creating a realistic plan that will push you to take action and save you time that you waste while trying to figure out where to start.

Here are 4 simple rules you can follow when planning your day:

  1. Plan your day ideally the night before or early morning as a part of your morning routine.
  2. Keep only 3 MITs (most important tasks) for a day. If you keep anywhere between 1 to 3 tasks on your daily planner, you’ll feel less overwhelmed, will be able to actually complete them and will feel more satisfied with yourself at the end of the day.
  3. Follow a task execution system to complete your tasks. I personally use the Pomodoro technique. Other methods include time-blocking, 80/20 rule
  4. Spend 5min on self-evaluation and review at the end of the day. Take note of how many tasks you managed to complete. If you’re consistently unable to complete 3 major tasks per day, figure out the cause and remove it. (Causes could be wasting time on social media, overloading your day with more than you can get done, procrastination, spending too much time on one task etc.)

The next challenge that undoubtedly all of us face are emotional barriers of one kind or another.

Facing the Psychological and Emotional Barriers to Productivity

Here are a few of the common emotional barriers (there are plenty others) that stand in the way of our productivity.

  • Motivation
  • Consistency
  • Procrastination
  • Setting boundaries

No quick 10-second tactic will help you get through this stage and if you can’t move past it, no technique/ app can help you be productive in the long-term. Yes, it’s hard. But only you can do it.

With that said, I want to show you simple ways in which you can tackle each of these barriers.

  1. The biggest source of motivation is within yourself.

We are all waiting for that motivation-pill that will solve everything for us within seconds. It doesn’t exist.

The strongest motivation is that which comes from within. Don’t wait for someone around you to motivate you to do things you need to do.

Why do you need motivation anyway? To achieve your goals. Your goals could be anything, for e.g., losing 10 pounds of weight, studying Tafseer of the Quran, completing a work-related project etc.

The best way to find that motivation within self is by setting up systems to work on your goals. Create planning systems that make large long-term goals so easy to achieve that you can get up and work even on low motivation days.

Also, make sure you schedule all the tasks you need to do, in order to achieve your goals, in your monthly calendar. Setting up your schedule will ensure you cover each task in a systemic way.

You should think of motivation as a type of energy. Just like with other types of energy, the motivational energy stores get depleted over the course of your day. So, you can prevent burnouts by giving frequent breaks to both; your body and your mind.

  1. Build goal-oriented habits for consistency.

When you learn how to motivate yourself every day to work on your big goals, consistency becomes a no-brainer.

All you need to do is set up goal-oriented daily habits that are easy to maintain and you’re good.

For e.g. if your large goal at the moment is writing a book, you could dedicate an hour or two early morning (or whenever you are most creative) every day to write a few hundred words. You could fix a time in your daily schedule for that one task and focus only on that particular task.

Would it be right to say you’ll be consistent if you are working on your goal every day even if for a few hours? I’d say so. Those couple hours every day will add up over weeks and before you know it, you’ll be standing at the finish line.

But that’s not what most of us do right? We get excited over a new goal we’ve set for ourselves and jump right into it. In a matter of days, we get burnt out and leave it altogether, saying to ourselves “I don’t have time for this. I’ll work on it when I get some time.” Does that time ever come? Of course not.

That’s why setting up small goal-oriented habits is the key to consistency.

  1. Procrastination kills time and gets you nowhere.

Narrated by Uqba bin Al-Harith: Once the Prophet (S.A.W) offered the Asr prayer and then hurriedly went to his house and returned immediately. I (or somebody else) asked him (as to what was the matter) and he said, “I left at home a piece of gold which was from the charity and I disliked to let it remain a night in my house, so I got it distributed.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Here’s what we can take away from this Hadith: You have a task you need to do? Get up and do it immediately or else Shaiytan will convince you “you don’t need to do it now”. Over time he’ll convince you that “you don’t need to it at all”.

You don’t want to be in that position where you’re hosting a constant war within self just to get that task done.

It is much easier to just get up and do the task than fight a battle within yourself that will most likely end up with you doing the task anyway but also wasting plenty of precious time in the process.

  1. Setting boundaries, outsourcing and delegating.

So many times when I hear someone say they’re overwhelmed, I find out that they don’t know how to set boundaries. As a working Muslim or student, you need to set clear boundaries. If you don’t, you will get pulled in a hundred different directions and feel constantly overwhelmed.

Another common problem we all face is outsourcing our tasks to others. Let me give you a 2-min solution for deciding which task to delegate.

So before you decide to work on a time-consuming task, put that task in a funnel. Ask yourself 2 questions:

  1. Do you need to do this task now? This short question will help you eliminate unnecessary tasks and decide which ones are urgent (need your immediate attention) and which ones can wait for later.
  2. Would it make sense to delegate the task that might take you longer than it would take someone else (because of the lack of your expertise in that area)? I think it would.

For example, if you’re a writer and you don’t know much about designing a book cover, find someone else who does (a graphic designer) rather than spending hours trying to do it yourself.

Another way to delegate tasks is by teaching someone else, who might be interested, to do the things you already know how to do but don’t want to spend time actually doing them.

Winding up, this approach is probably different from the time management tactics you read everywhere.

Yes, I agree it’s more challenging to follow a system that forces you to step out of your comfort zone, face your psychology and take action because we all want quick 1 min solutions to our problems. But trust me, once you follow this system you’ll no longer have to rely on others motivating you.

You’ll learn how to plan, execute tasks, control your environment, achieve big goals slowly but surely, and set boundaries.

Set up these systems once and you’re finished, as compared to other Muslims who spend their entire lives wondering why they aren’t productive and able to manage time as well as other successful Muslims do.

Now I’m curious. Tell me one thing you do to manage your time as a busy career Muslim. Let’s talk in the comments section below!

AUTHOR BIO: Aimen is a Medical Doctor and the founder of Muslim Youth Programme. She teaches self-development to young Muslims struggling with the fitnah of this century. Her aim is to educate and empower Muslims with practical advice on self-development, productivity, studies and health, with insights on Islamic psychology. Jumpstart your productivity and take action on your goals by signing up to her latest FREE productivity Bootcamp for Muslims.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 1 comment

4 Things About Barakah Every Muslim Must Know

About Barakah Definition

4 Things About Barakah Every Muslim Must Know

Barakah is one of those Islamic concepts that many people know of, but don’t know much about. In this short article, I will explain four important things every Muslim must know about Barakah.

1. What is Barakah?

Barakah is often translated as Blessings in English. But that doesn’t tell us much about Barakah and what it actually is.

Barakah can be defined as spiritual blessings in any thing. It is the phenomenon of getting more done with less, in a manner that defies logic.

Three Examples of Barakah:

A) Getting five hours worth of work done in an hour
B) Writing an entire high quality book in a day
C) Money not getting finished despite spending a lot and giving a lot of charity

Barakah can occur in anything: money, time, family, work, results, dawah, writings, effects on others, food, and even life itself. A person who gets more done in a short 35 year lifespan than someone who lived 95 years had Barakah in his life.

Simply put, Barakah can’t be explained in a single English word. So we should stick to using the Arabic word. It is a type of Karamat (miracle) that Allah can grant to any believer.

2. How to get Barakah?

There is no single method of getting Barakah outlined in the Quran and Sunnah. But there are core Islamic concepts that definitely lead to Barakah for those who do it properly and sincerely. These can be listed as:

A) Earning and eating Halal only
B) Fulfilling the commands of Allah
C) Making dua for Barakah
D) Giving Charity
E) Praying Qiyam Al-Layl (Tahajjud)

The above have led to Barakah for thousands of Muslims throughout history. And when done properly with sincerity can lead to Barakah for you and me too.

3. If you have it, don’t question it

A lesser known aspect about Barakah is what to do when you experience it. Based on authentic Hadiths, we can conclude that if someone experiences Barakah, they shouldn’t tell question it. Doing so may lead to the Barakah disappearing.

The following two Hadiths are evidence of this:

Jabir reported that a person came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and asked for food. And he gave him half a load of barley, and the person and his wife and their guests kept on making use of it (as a food) until he weighed it (in order to find out the actual quantity, and it was no more). He came to Allah’s Prophet (ﷺ) (and informed him about it). He said, “Had you not weighed it, you would be eating out of it and it would have remained intact for you.” (Sahih Muslim 2281)

Jabir reported that Umm Malik used to send clarified butter in a small skin to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Her sons would come to her and ask for seasoning when they had nothing with them and she would go to that (skin) in which she offered (clarified butter) to Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ), and she would find in that clarified butter and it kept providing her with seasoning for her household until she had (completely) squeezed it. She came to Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) and (informed him about it). Thereupon, he (ﷺ) said, “Did you squeeze it?” She said, “Yes.” Thereupon he (ﷺ) said, “If you had left it in that very state, it would have kept on providing you (the clarified butter) without ending.” (Sahih Muslim 2280)

In both of the above hadiths, the Barakah only ended when the individual questioned how it was happening by inspecting it. So if you experience Barakah, don’t question how it is happening. What should you do instead? Read on!

4. Express gratitude to Allah for it

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you are ungrateful, indeed, My punishment is severe.” (Surah Ibraheem 14:7)

The key to successful living is an attitude of gratitude. If you experience Barakah in anything, then express gratitude to Allah for it and don’t dwell on how it is happening. Accept it as a gift from Allah and try your best to use it in a way that is pleasing to Allah.

The most basic way to show gratitude is to say Alhamdulillah (All Praise is for Allah) and to use it to earn Allah’s pleasure. But for really amazing occasions of Barakah, we should make Sajdah Shukr (prostration of gratitude). This is done by immediately going into Sajdah and thanking Allah for His Blessings on you.

So there it is, four key points about Barakah that every Muslim must know. We end by asking Allah to put Barakah in this article, this website, these ebooks and all our efforts. Ameen!

Want to learn more about Barakah?
Read our bestselling ebook: Getting The Barakah!
1000s of readers were transformed by it, now it is your turn!
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About Barakah eBook

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 7 comments

Three Hadiths About Time Management

Three Hadiths About Time Management

This is an extract from my eBook, Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide To Time Management. You can purchase the full eBook here. These three hadiths are explained in chapter two of the eBook.

To begin, we need to look at a commonly misunderstood term, Rizq. Rizq refers to everything that Allah has provides us with, we can translate it as resources. Rizq is not restricted to wealth and material resources as many people think. The resources that Allah has provided us with are many. They include wealth, health, youth, family, friends, safety, knowledge, intellectual capabilities and, what concerns us most in this book, time.

First Reflection:

In order to truly appreciate the importance of time management, we must understand and acknowledge that time a part of our Rizq. It is a resource that Allah has provide to us, just like our health and wealth. There are two special qualities about time that separate it from the other types of Rizq we receive:

  1. Every human is provided with the exact same amount of time in a day.
  2. Time is the only resource that is not renewable. Once it is used, it is gone forever.

Each of the above points has a direct repercussion on the way we think about time.

Second Reflection

The following three points should make us realize how precious a resource our time really is: Time is similar to other resources in that only Allah knows how much time each person has in this world.

Some live for a short time and accomplish great things, because they value that time. Some live for a long time without accomplishing anything, because they did not realize the value of time until it was too late.

  1. As every human has the exact same amount of time per day as another, there is nothing we can do to increase our time, but we can have an edge over others is how we manage our time.
  2. As time is not renewable, it would be foolish to waste it or kill it. Why waste a precious resource that you are never going to get back?
  3. As we don’t know how much time we really have on this earth, can we really afford to waste time now and wait until later in life to do things that are important to us?

With this in mind, it becomes clear that time is a precious resource from Allah that must be used for good. We can also understand that wasting time is like wasting money. Rather it is worse!

Because you can always make up for lost money, but you can never make up for time that has been lost.

The First Hadith:

The Hadiths[1] related to time become very clear when we analyse them from this perspective. Reflect on the following Hadiths in light of the above:

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِرَجُلٍ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ اغْتَنِمْ خَمْسًا قَبْلَ خَمْسٍ شَبَابَكَ قَبْلَ هَرَمِكَ وَصِحَّتَكَ قَبْلَ سَقَمِكَ وَغِنَاكَ قَبْلَ فَقْرِكَ وَفَرَاغَكَ قَبْلَ شُغُلِكَ وَحَيَاتَكَ قَبْلَ مَوْتِكَ

“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death” (Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)

Author’s Reflection:

  1. Everything mentioned in this Hadith is a type of Rizq: youth, health, wealth, free time and our life as a whole
  2. Therefore we must be very careful in how we utilize each of the above
  3. Notice that the Hadith mentions free time and not time as a whole. Due to the necessities of life, there are times in the day that we have to do certain things (Work, Salah) and we can’t use that time for anything else, so it’s really how we utilize our free time that matters.

The Second Hadith

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نِعْمَتَانِ مَغْبُونٌ فِيهِمَا كَثِيرٌ مِنْ النَّاسِ الصِّحَّةُ وَالْفَرَاغُ

“There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari 8/421)

Author’s Reflection:

  1. This Hadith focuses on two resources: health and free time.
  2. Both of these are necessary resources for doing good deeds. It is difficult to do good deeds without good health or enough time to do it properly.
  3. These are two things that most people take for granted. For some reason, we don’t appreciate these blessings from Allah until they are taken away from us.
  4. The best way to show appreciation to Allah for a blessing is to use it as a tool for good. Therefore, our free time must be utilized and we cannot allow it to be wasted.

The Third Hadith

قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يُؤْذِينِي ابْنُ آدَمَ يَسُبُّ الدَّهْرَ وَأَنَا الدَّهْرُ بِيَدِي الْأَمْرُ أُقَلِّبُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ

“Allah said, ‘The son of Adam wrongs me for he curses Ad-Dahr (Time); though I am Ad-Dahr (Time). In My Hands are all things, and I cause the revolution of day and night” (Al-Bukhari)

Author’s Reflection:

  1. In this Hadith Al-Qudsi[2], Allah says that He is Time. The scholars clarify this to mean that time is controlled and provided to us by Allah. It is a blessing from Allah and so cursing it is like cursing Allah.
  2. When we feel that time is slipping away and that we don’t have enough time to accomplish what we want in life, don’t curse time because you were given the same amount of time in a day as everybody else. Rather, take that moment to analyse how you spent your time and what you can do differently.

Conclusion

This creates a mind-set that is focused on keeping track of time and utilizing it to the best of our abilities. If we are only going to be in this world for a limited period of time, and during that time we need to balance our duties towards our Creator, our families, our society and ourselves then the only way to get that done is with strict time management.The above Hadiths all indicate the same thing, that the true believer understands the importance of time and refuses to waste it. It is a precious asset that is deteriorating every second, and so an hour wasted is an hour that we can never get back.

This is what I hope to accomplish in this book, to assist you to gain the necessary tools and habits that can help you get the best out of your day. These tools can be used in our work life, study life, family life, leisure time and spiritual life. In fact, when used properly, these tools help us to balance between all of these parts of our lives and that is the correct way for a believer to live, a balanced life, never wasting any time, always working towards a higher goal.

[1] Hadith: A narration containing information about what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said or did

[2] Hadith Al-Qudsi: A Hadith narration quoting Allah directly. It is considered a separate category from a Hadith quoting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Want to read more? Get the full eBook here.

hadiths time management

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 1 comment

9 Ways to maintain Self Discipline

Book on Self Discipline9 Ways to maintain Self Discipline

As mentioned throughout my book Getting The Barakah, time management requires firm self discipline. Here are some tips that can will assist you in maintaining the self discipline needed to stick to a schedule:

1. Keep reminders for every important thing.

Whether you have a notebook, Tablet, Smartphone, Diary or Desktop Planner. Utilize it to store reminders for everything that is important. Make it a habit to write down anything that is important in a place where you can remember it.

Whether it is a reminder to call your mechanic and make an appointment to tune up your car. Or a reminder that you have a class to teach at a certain time. Or a reminder to pay the bills on a certain date. Whatever it is, set a written reminder and you will be less likely to forget or overlook it.

2. Don’t mix creative and admin work.

A lot of modern day work involves thinking, creativity and planning. Many people make the mistake of trying to do this while doing admin work at the same time. This goes back to our point on multitasking (mentioned in the book), it is not productive to try and do both at the same time.

Creativity requires the brain to function in one manner. While admin work requires it to function quite differently. Trying to do both at the same time is not productive and can even cause a headache.

Schedule your creative tasks for separate times from your admin work. This way your mind can function in one manner and focus on the task at hand. If you are more creative in the mornings, then make that your creative time and leave your admin work for the afternoon. Likewise, if you are more creative in the afternoon or evening, schedule your time accordingly.

The point is to allow your mind to focus on the task at hand and in that manner, you will get more done faster.

3. Subconscious Level Thinking

The human mind operates on two levels. There is the conscious thinking which is what you are focusing on at the moment. However, while you are focusing on something, there are many things going on in the back of your mind that you are not aware of, this is known as the subconscious or unconscious part of the brain.

Recent studies have shown that many of our best ideas are stimulated in the subconscious level of the mind, as it never rests, even when we are sleeping. This is where the idea of “sleeping on it” comes from.

Very often when someone has a really complex problem to solve, they choose to sleep on it or do something fun. While doing so, the subconscious level of the mind continues working on the problem in a more relaxed manner and the solution is soon formed.

The next time you have a complex problem to solve or are searching for a great creative idea, instead of wasting time stressing over it, sleep on it and you might find the solution you were looking for.

Perhaps this is why some of our best ideas come to us while we are praying Salah, as we are relaxed and focused on Allah so our minds are also relaxed and our subconscious can dig deeper and discover new ideas. (That’s how the idea for this book came to me)

4. Rewarding yourself

In this world, not many people are going to stand in your corner, support your every idea and compliment your efforts. You often need to be your own cheerleader as you need motivation and encouragement to push on through difficult times.

One way to keep yourself motivated is to reward yourself for each small and large victory. This will give you a boost to continue working harder and succeeding. Small victories can be rewarded with small things, for examples you can reward yourself with a ten minute break and a cup of coffee for getting that report done in record time.

Bigger victories can be rewarded with a bigger reward. For example, a successful huge sale or completion of an important course can be rewarded with a night out for the family to your favourite Halal restaurant.

The point is to take care of yourself, and this will keep you motivated to keep rising to higher levels with each little victory.

5. Set a time limit for each task

Most of us can’t keep working at one task all day. We need breaks and limits. Furthermore, setting a time limit forces you to work faster and get things done in record time. If a task usually takes you two hours to do, set a time limit to do it in one hour, you will surprised by the fact that it will probably take you 45 minutes to do it with such a time limit. The general rule is to set a time limit to do a task in half the time it usually takes you to do it.

This is because when we have tight deadlines, our mind goes into overdrive in finding ways to get things done faster. Setting time limits and deadlines for all your tasks is a great way to discipline yourself to work faster and better.

6. Set a dollar value for your time

Time is money. This is a fact. Every moment wasted with mundane activities is a moment wasted that you can never get back. Many people overcome this by working out how much each minute of their day is worth in terms of dollars.

If you earn $2000 a month, each work day is worth $80 so each hour is worth $8. If you waste an hour, you have wasted $8. Of course, if you maximize that time, you can actually increase the value of your time, because productive people tend to earn more than unproductive people. And the more your time is worth, the less likely you are to waste it because you know what it is worth.

7. Avoid Perfectionism

I always wanted to be an author. I knew that it was what I was best at, but for many years I held back because I was not happy that my writings are not perfect. It was only when I let go of my desire for perfection that I was finally able to let my ideas flow and the writing happened.

Too often, we focus on perfection and end up wasting time trying to improve already high quality work to unrealistic standards. This does not mean we should do shoddy work. No, our focus should be on high quality results, not perfect results. Nothing in this world is perfect so striving for perfection is a self-defeating goal and will always leave you frustrated and miserable.

Focus on doing your best. You can always improve and learn from mistakes. But getting things done is far more important than worrying about the impossible.

8. Identify your peak times

Every person has a time of the day when he or she is at their best. Identify your peak time. For most people, it is early morning or late at night. Schedule your most important projects for that time. This will help you give maximum attention to that task and produce the highest quality product.

9. Focus on your most important task

Ask yourself each day what is the most important thing I need to get done today. Then get that done early and give it most of your attention. Do this and you will find time for everything else as well. Plus, you will feel better for having completed the most important tasks early.

Learn more self discipline and time management tips with Getting The Barakah

This article was extracted from Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide to Time Management. Available exclusively at Islamic Self Help.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 1 comment

7 Time Management Mistakes You Might Be Making

Time Management Mistakes

Time Management Mistakes

7 Time Management Mistakes You Might Be Making

Time Management, like any other skill, requires proper implementation. Too often, we learn a time management tool and implement it incorrectly. We then think that the system is faulty. It isn’t. We just implemented it incorrectly. Here are 7 time management mistakes you may be making:

1. Making your To-Do List in the morning

The To-Do List is the ultimate symbol of Time Management. Every time management book stresses the importance of To-Do Lists. Yet many people struggle with them.

One major cause of such a struggle is trying to make a To-Do List every morning. Mornings are usually busy and rushed, and barely anybody has time to make a To-Do list when rushing off to work. Furthermore, the brain is still tired and cannot recall every task for the day.

What you should be doing instead: Make your To-Do List every evening as you wrap up your work for the day. Get into the habit of making your To-Do list the day before, so that you start the day knowing exactly what needs to get done that day. And so that there is no rush or confusion.

2. Answering emails first thing in the morning

NOTE: If answering emails is YOUR JOB, then this doesn’t apply to you. Please focus on your job.

The latest research indicates that most productive people answer their emails later in the day. This serves multiple benefits. For one, it allows you to get some creative work done before getting bogged down by email.

Another benefit is that your early morning mood isn’t spoiled by a nasty email. Finally, you are not distracted from your core work by unnecessary emails.

What you should be doing instead: Answer your emails in batches at set times, preferably at 10am and 2pm daily.

3. Setting Tasks for the wrong time of the day

Continuing on the same theme, we must choose the best time of the day for each task we do. Generally, our daily tasks include some high concentration work and some low concentration work. Many of us start our days with low concentration work and don’t have the energy (or time) for high concentration work later.

What you should be doing instead: Figure out your optimal times. Do your high concentration tasks only during peak times of the day. Leave low concentration tasks for times of the day when you feel weak or lazy.

4. Overlooking Family Time

Time Management is not about work, work, work!

It is about attaining life balance. This means you need to schedule in family time. Make time for your spouse, your kids, your parents and anybody else that matters.

It is easy to get carried away with new time management tools and to use them to work all day long. However, this is not wise. Make time for family, or you may risk losing them.

What you should be doing instead: Scheduling in family time as needed to maintain balance and keep your relationships strong.

5. Overlooking ‘Me Time’

On the same theme as above, you need to maintain work/life balance. This means making time to take care of yourself. You need time to rest, sleep, enjoy Halal fun, and recharge daily.

Failure to do so that lead to health complications. Overworking also generally leads to burn out and abandoning your goals all together.

What you should be doing instead: Schedule in ‘me time’ especially when you feel your productivity levels slipping. Take care of yourself to maintain momentum throughout the year.

6. Piling on too much at once

We get it. You are excited to have learned some new time management principles and want to accomplish all your life long dreams at once.

But you are not a superhero. You must recognize your human limitations and be realistic about your daily To-Do List. Don’t pile on too much every day, be realistic and focus on what is possible.

What you should be doing instead: Schedule in enough tasks to get done per day, with some breathing room for things that may go wrong.

7. Not having a long term goal

Even if you have learned all the famous time management tools and tips, you may not be able to maintain momentum without a long term vision. Short term goals are good and part of living a productive life. However, long term change requires a long term reason.

If you do not have any long term goals, you may lose momentum and stop applying your time management tactics after a few months.

What you should be doing instead: Decide on where you would like to be in 10 years. Set goals that align with that vision. Your daily tasks should be such that they take you one inch closer to that vision every day.

So there you have it. These are 7 common time management mistakes. Avoid them to achieve maximum productivity!

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 3 comments