Time Management

6 Time Management strategies that work amazingly well

6 Time Management strategies that work amazingly well

Getting more done every day is difficult. With so many distractions and problems to deal with daily, it is too easy for days to go by without accomplishing anything.

Try these tips to get more done daily:

1. Plan on paper

When we try to do all our planning internally, it can be overwhelming and our train of thought can get derailed easily.

To get things done faster, think on paper or at least via typing. Write/type out your thoughts, analyze them, and work through them.

2. The Two-Minute Rule

If something takes less than two minutes to get done, then do it immediately. This will save you a lot of time, and free up your mind to focus on deeper topics.

3. Work in batches

Instead of answering email throughout the day, schedule specific times for answering emails. Do the same for phone calls, admin tasks, and other small tasks that take up the bulk of your day. This will free up a lot of time for deep work.

4. Optimize your work environment

Remove distractions, cut out social media, and ensure that you only have access to the tools you need for work. The more optimized your environment, the easier it gets to concentrate and get things done.

5. Do the hardest tasks during your peak performance time

Figure out which time of the day you are at your peak (early morning, afternoon, late night) and schedule your most important work for that time.

6. Stay healthy

Eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all necessary for maintaining the energy and brain power needed to do great work. Taking care of your health is part of taking care of your time.

Want to learn more?

Our time management ebook bundle is on sale for only $5 here: https://islamicselfhelp.gumroad.com/l/CJPQX/2022i

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management
10 Time Management Tips for Ramadan

10 Time Management Tips for Ramadan

The countdown has begun and we have less than a month left until the greatest month of the year, Ramadan knocks at our doors! I’m sure by now most of you are stock-piling the goodies for iftaar and downloading as many resources as possible for Ramadan preparation but the question remains “How can I manage my time well enough to get it all done?”

That is what this article is going to assist you with, insha’Allah. Without any further ado, let’s jump right into our Time Management Tips for Ramadan:

1. Plan in Advance

Time Management is divided between planning and application. Without adequate planning, there isn’t anything much to apply and the result is another Ramadan that just flies by. To plan for Ramadan, we need to be clear regarding the goals (Maqasid) of Ramadan, which is to attain taqwa. Therefore, our objective of Ramadan should be an increase in guidance and taqwa.  

2. Calculate how much Ibaadah time you will have daily

Ideally, we all want to spend Ramadan performing acts of worship 24/7, but this isn’t realistic and most of us have other obligations that we need to take care of as well. So work out in advance how much time you will have daily for Ibaadah, then set goals to get that much Ibaadah done. The formula is simple: 24 Hours – (Sleep time, Work Time, Family Responsibility) = Ibaadah time.

If for example, you have 3 hours of ibaadah time, you can schedule in an hour of Qur’an reciting, an hour of studying Islam and an hour for dua and Dhikr. You can really get a lot done if you stick with this formula for the entire month.

3. Set Clear Goals

Now that you know how much Ibaadah time you have available daily, the next step is to set S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T means that the goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For example,  if your goal is to study some Tafsir this Ramadan, the problem with this goal is that it is too vague (which Tafsir), not measurable (How many pages), and not attainable or realistic (does one page of Tafsir fulfil the goal or five books of Tafsir?).

A S.M.A.R.T goal would be: I want to complete studying this 800 page book of Tafsir this Ramadan. In order to complete 800 pages in 29 days, I need to read an average of 28 pages a day.

4. Allocate time for each goal:

Now that your goals for Ramadan are clearly defined and you know how much time you have daily for Ibaadah, the next step is to combine this by allocating specific times daily for chasing each goal. Eg: If you have the goal of reading 30 pages of Tafsir daily and that will take you an hour, and you know that you have an hour a day free every evening before Tarawih, then allocate that time to be your Tafsir time. Set a specific time of the day for reciting Qur’an (perhaps before or after Fajr), making dua (before Iftar), having a family Halaqa (after Asr or after Tarawih) and any other goals you are working towards.

5. Utilize the early hours of the morning:

In Summer countries, Suhoor is quite early and many people can’t wake up too early before it. In that case, I recommend utilizing an hour after Suhoor for Ibaadah. In Winter countries, Suhoor is quite late, so waking up an hour before it is easier. In such countries, I recommend waking up an hour earlier and dedicating that time to Qiyam Al-Layl (Tahajjud), dua and reciting Qur’an. The early mornings are known having Barakah (blessings) and it is a time when we are not pre-occupied with work and family obligations. Use it!

6. Schedule in a family Halaqa:

Ramadan is the perfect time for the family to bond and grow in Imaan together. The devils are locked up and everybody is more spiritual. This spirituality needs to be nurtured so that we can benefit from it after Ramadan. One way to do this is to establish a family Halaqa (study circle). Read a chapter of an Islamic book (or listen to a lecture) then discuss its contents with each other. Continue this even after Ramadan.

7. Dedicate time daily for Qur’an:

Ramadan is the month of Qur’an and so it is obvious that time must be dedicated daily to Qur’an. In some communities, people recite Qur’an very quickly each Ramadan to get it over with or complete as many Qur’an recitals as possible. Instead of doing this, focus on reciting properly, studying the Tafsir and reflecting on its meanings. This will have a longer lasting effect on one’s Imaan and Taqwa.

8. Avoid Multi-Tasking

This is a general time management tip that applies outside Ramadan as well. Studies show multi-tasking actually slows down productivity and causes sloppy work. Modern time management experts agree that focusing on one task at a time gets the task done faster with better quality than multi-tasking. Don’t try to recite Qur’an, while browsing through Facebook and taking care of a child all at the same time. The same applies to studying Tafsir or making dua. Choose a place, time and situation in which you will have the least distractions and give the act of worship your undivided focus.

9. Fast from excessive socializing

This includes both social media and physical socialization. Ramadan is the month of Itikaf. One of the goals of Itikaf is to take a break from our social lives so that we can focus on our relationship with Allah. If you are unable to make Itikaf, you can still get this benefit in Ramadan by cutting down on socializing and dedicating more time to Ibaadah. Attend a few less Iftaar parties, log into Facebook and Twitter for shorter durations and excuse yourself from unnecessary gatherings.

10. Stay Healthy

You cannot accomplish your goals if you are feeling lazy, weak, agitated or sleep-deprived. Some of us do too much during the first few days of Ramadan and end up without any energy to push on for the remainder of Ramadan. Pace yourself and take care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and staying hydrated.

The average person needs between 6-8 hours sleep a night, so make sure you are getting it, even if it means going to bed a bit earlier. Avoid sugary and oily foods and eat wholesome foods for both Suhoor and Iftaar. Drink a lot of water at night before bed as that will keep you hydrated during the day.

May Allah make this Ramadan a productive and blessed one for all of us. Ameen

We would love to hear time management tips which you follow to get the most out of the blessed Ramadan. Please share in the comments section below. 

To learn more, check out our productivity products, available here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management
Ibn al-Haytham and the productive usage of time when stuck at home

Ibn al-Haytham and the productive usage of time when stuck at home

With the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe, the idea of being stuck at home for weeks is becoming a reality for many people. This may prove challenging for those who are accustomed to spending most of their time in public. They may find it difficult to remain calm, focused and productive while working from home during a pandemic. To assist in dealing with this, let’s look at a case study from the past in which greatness was achieved while someone was stuck at home. That person was the great scientist al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham.

Short Biography

Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) was a famous Muslim scholar who contributed greatly to the fields of optics, astronomy, mathematics, meteorology, visual perception and the scientific method. He was born in 965 CE during the Islamic Golden Age in Iraq. He received an excellent education under the scholars of Baghdad and become a famous scientist at a very young age.

The Incident

As his fame grew, Ibn Al-Haytham found himself invited to lead various projects. The Fatimid King of Egypt at that time, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, invited him to Egypt to build a dam across the River Nile. Upon reviewing the plans, Ibn al-Haytham realized it was not feasible and the technology to complete the project did not exist yet. The king was not happy with Ibn al-Haytham’s conclusion and placed him under house arrest for ten years. (There is a difference of opinion on exactly what occurred between the king and Ibn al-Haytham)

The Discovery

Ibn al-Haytham did not waste these ten years at all. He spent his time reading, researching, experimenting, and journalling as he explored various scientific concepts. Finally, he had a breakthrough. Ibn al-Haytham made one of the most important discoveries related to optics during this period. Based on that discovery, he wrote his Book Of Optics which became the most influential book in that field. This discovery by Ibn al-Haytham helped people understand how eyes function. It also helped him develop an early model of the camera. His discovery led the way for the eventual invention of eyeglasses. Finally, during this process, he developed the scientific method which is still used today. All of this was accomplished while under house arrest.

The Lesson

It is highly unlikely that any of us will have to face something as severe as ten years of house arrest. Yet it is very likely we may face a few weeks of being stuck at home at some point in our lives or another. Ibn al-Haytham’s example teaches us the importance of not wasting time when stuck at home. It is possible to remain productive and beneficial to the rest of the world even when you are confined to the four walls of your house. This is even easier today with the existence of technology and the internet. Through this story, we learn never to waste time or blame our circumstances for our own lack of productivity. No matter what situation a person is in, it is almost always possible to find a way to use your time wisely and maximize the benefit from that time.

How to maximize benefit from time at home

If you ever find yourself stuck at home and unable to find ways to use your time productively, try the following:
1. Read some books
2. Study some online courses
3. Write a book or journal
4. Engage in extra acts of worship
5. Spend time in contemplation and reflection
6. Spend quality time with your family
7. Work on those ideas that you have been holding back because you were too busy

Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6049)

During this health scare, let us waste neither and maximize the usage of our time.

To learn more productivity lessons from the heroes of Islamic History, join our Muslim Golden Ages Online Course or read my latest book Productivity Principles of Umar II.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity
7 Core Time Management Skills

7 Core Time Management Skills

Everybody has 24 hours in a day, but some people are able to accomplish more in this time than others. When we look at the lives of these people, they all have a stronger awareness and control over their time i.e. they practice time management.

But what is time management anyway?

Time management is simply a strategy or system for using your time more effectively. Any system or strategy that you develop to get more done in a day is effective time management. Over the years, I have developed multiple systems and strategies that help me to manage my time effectively. I have written about these in detail in my best-selling ebook Getting The Barakah.

Today, however, I want to share with you the 7 core skills that I teach in this book.

1. Begin your day at Fajr Time

If you analyze the lives of successful people, you will notice that most of them begin their day early. As Muslims, we know that there is Barakah (Blessings) in the early part of the day, so why not grab that Barakah by starting our days early?

Try this for a week. Wake up every day at Fajr time. After Fajr, recite Quran and engage in some acts of worship. Then exercise, have breakfast and prepare for your day. Finally, get ONE high-concentration task done before everybody else wakes up.

If you keep at this, I guarantee you will find that you will be able to accomplish more in a day than you previously thought possible.

2. Set Your Daily Priorities and Goals

There are different methods and systems of time management. Some use a calendar, while others divide their day into blocks. I prefer a to-do list because it is more flexible and easy to draw up.

The key to a successful to-do list is to draw it up the night before so that you begin your day knowing exactly what you need to get done that day. The list should include daily priorities, personal development tasks, and action items that assist you in working towards your long-term goals. I discuss each of these concepts in more detail in my book.

3. Block off time for High Concentration Tasks

A major time management mistake that a lot of people make is multitasking. Multitasking only works with low concentration tasks, eg: listening to a podcast while exercising. However, trying to multitask when working on a high concentration task will only slow you down and reduce the quality of your work.

Instead of multitasking, block off time (preferably during your peak performance time) for high-concentration tasks. During this time, put aside all distractions and focus intensively on the task at hand. Give the task your undivided attention for 45 minutes to an hour, and it will get done faster with superior results.

I utilize this method daily for writing my blog posts, writing my books, and preparing my classes. It works wonderfully and is a must for anyone who does any work that requires a lot of concentration.

4. Take advantage of delegation and automation

I discuss this in detail in the book, and in even more detail in my newest book Productivity Principles of ʿUmar II. To summarize this concept, anything that can be done by someone else and doesn’t require your personal effort should be delegated to others.

There are essentially two types of tasks that you should delegate, tasks anybody can do and tasks in areas that you do not specialize in. The first could be delegated to anybody competent, the latter should be delegated to experts. Delegation frees up time to get more done every day.

We now have access to something even better than delegation; automation! There are dozens of tasks that can be automated. Take time to figure out what you are doing that can be done by a computer instead, and get those tasks automated!

To learn more about delegation and automation, make sure to read my latest book!

5. Leverage the 80/20 Principle

The 80/20 rule may sound like nonsense at first, but it has proven to be quite accurate. It simply means that a large portion of our results come from a small portion of our effort. Identifying that small portion of effort and doubling down on it helps to get more done faster. This system also helps eliminate tasks from your life that may be simple tasks without any real results.

Take some time to identify what you are doing that doesn’t work, eliminate it! Find out what brings in the best results, and double down on it! This is the best usage of the 80/20 principle in time management.

6. Keep your schedule flexible enough to cater for unexpected problems

No matter how well you manage your time, life will happen. You will need to be flexible so you can make time for all the unexpected tasks that pop up in a day. This is why I recommend scheduling six hours of set tasks in an eight-hour workday, so you have two hours to handle anything else that pops up during the day that you weren’t prepared for.

Do not make the mistake of being so unflexible in your time management that you are unable to get things done when life happens. Because life will happen, so its best to prepare and leave some time for it.

7. Learn to say No!

Finally, learn to say no! It is one of the most skills you can learn. Sometimes, we try too hard to please everybody and end up taking on too many extra projects. In doing so, we do justice to none of them and end up overworked. A simple polite no is far better than a poorly done project.

Practice saying no to tasks and projects that you can’t handle, or which you feel are a waste of time. Practice polite ways of saying no so that you do not offend anybody. Once you get good at saying no, you will find yourself with a lot more time to work on the things that really matter!

Ready to take your time management to the next level? Grab a copy of Getting The Barakah and get started today!

Getting Barakah Time Management
Click the picture to get the ebook.
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management
The Value of Time – Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah

The Value of Time – Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah

Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah wrote a beautiful treatise on the value of time. This book has been highly influential on my own productivity books like Getting The Barakah and Productivity Principles of ʿUmar II. In this short article, I want to share some key passages from this classic work on time management.

Blessings are Primary and Secondary

Blessings are divided into two different kinds: primary and secondary. Having an abundance of wealth and knowledge, a strong body, observance of the nawafil [supererogatory acts of worship] such as waking up to pray at night, and reading the Quran frequently, and following the Sunnah of the Prophet in bodily cleanliness, perfuming oneself—in the case of men— when attending a gathering and shaking hands with those you meet, entering the mosque with one’s right foot and leaving it with the left, and removing harmful objects from paths and roads, as well as the many other actions performed by the Prophet which are recommended for us to emulate— all of these are examples of secondary blessings, but they are great in the eyes of those who know their true values.

Primary blessings are also numerous and infinite in number, the first of which is the belief in Allah the most Exalted and the Messengers and Books sent by Him and implementing His commands and abiding by them. Other blessings include having a healthy body, eyes, ears and all other senses, which are the fulcrum for man’s essence and the foundation from which he may go forth and benefit from his existence.

The blessing of knowledge is also a primary blessing that is essential for the advancement of humanity and its happiness in this life and the next, for knowledge is a lofty blessing whichever form it takes; seeking it is a blessing, benefiting from it and benefiting others by it is a blessing; preserving it and transmitting it to the following generations are a blessing, as is spreading it to people. There are many other examples of primary blessings, which I will not mention here out of respect for the value of time.

One of the primary blessings or the loftiest and most precious of all primary blessings is that of time, for the discussion of which these pages have been assembled, particularly its value for students and people of knowledge. Time is the substance of life, the sphere in which man exists, the citadel of his spirit, and his subsistence— him benefiting himself and others. (Value of Time, pp. 11-12)

Allah Reprimands Disbelievers for Wasting their Lives

Allah the Most Exalted addressed the non-believers reprimanding them for wasting their lives, spending them in a state of disbelief, and not leaving their state of disbelief to a state of belief despite the blessings of long lives that Allah bestowed upon them, as He, the Most Glorified, said: Did We not grant you a life long enough for him who reflected to reflect therein? And the warner came to you? Now taste [the flavor of your deeds], for evil-doers, have no helpers.

Hence, He, the Most Glorified, has made the blessing of a long life a reason for one to reflect and ponder, and has made one’s life as proof against him, as He has made messengers and warners proofs and witnesses over him as well. Ibn Kathir said in his tafsir [exegesis] of this noble verse: “It means: Did you not live in this life and have such long life spans that had you been of those who benefit from signs and who follow the truth you would have done so in your lives?” Qatada said: “ Know that the length of one’s life is a proof against him, so we seek refuge in Allah from being mocked and blamed due to our long lives.”

Al-Bukhari narrated in his Sahih on the authority of Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (s) said, “Allah will not accept the excuse of any person whose instant of death Allah had delayed till he is sixty years of age.” Imam Ahmad narrated in his Musnad on the authority of Abu Hurayra that the Prophet said: “ Whomsoever Allah grants a life span of sixty years, then He will not accept any excuses from him relating to the shortness of his life.”

Meaning that Allah has removed any excuses he might cite and he will have no possible excuses, for Allah had granted him such a long lifetime. (Value of time, p. 13)

The Total of Ibn Jarir’s Writings is 358,000 Pages

Ibn Jarir was born in 224 AH and died in 310 AH, and if we subtract the period before maturity estimated to be fourteen years, it would leave Ibn Jarir seventy-two years in which he wrote fourteen pages every day. And if we count the days in those seventy-two years and multiplied them by the fourteen pages written daily, the total written by Imam Ibn Jarir would be around 358 thousand pages.

His [books on] history and tafsir [Qur’an exegesis] were each around three thousand pages long, making them together a total of around seven thousand. His “ History” was printed in eleven large volumes and his tafsir in thirty large volumes. If you consider the rest of his writings, 351 thousand pages, you would realize the extent of the writings of this imam, who was like an encyclopedia in his knowledge, like a publishing house in his writing, while he was but an individual, writing with his own pen on paper, and spreading his knowledge and thought to the people as purified sweet honey, and that would not have been possible were it not for the fact that he used his time beneficially and knew how to manage it and use it effectively

The judge Abu Bakr ibn Kamil-Ahmad ibn Kamil al-Shajari, the student and companion of Ibn Jarir, said, describing how he, may Allah have mercy on him, ordered his times and activities: After eating, he used to sleep in a short-sleeved shirt, rubbed with sandalwood and rosewater. Then he would get up to pray Zuhr at home and would write until ‘Asr time, and would go out to pray Asr, then would sit teaching the people and correcting them until Maghrib. Then he would sit to teach Fiqh until the last Isha prayer, then he would go home. He used to divide his day and night between his personal interests, his religion, and people, as guided by Allah, High and Glorified be He. (Value of time, pp. 21-22)

To learn more about Time Management from an Islamic Perspective, grab our self-help bundle today!

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management