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, 2 comments
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!

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 1 comment
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, 0 comments
How to identify your Peak Performance Time

How to identify your Peak Performance Time

Have you ever noticed how your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day?

This is because we are all designed differently, and have different productive hours. Some people are able to get more done in the morning. Others are able to get more done in the afternoon. And some people are only productive late at night. This is known as one’s Peak Performance time.

In my book Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide To Time Management, I discuss the importance of utilizing your peak performance time for High Concentration tasks. This means scheduling the tasks that require the most brainpower for the times of the day when your performance is at its best.

In this article, I will explain the different types of performance times and how to identify yours.

Night Owls

The Four Types of People

When it comes to Peak Performance types, many people assume that there are only two types of people; night owls and early birds. In reality, there are four types of people: morning people, afternoon people, night people, and all-rounders.

Morning people are at their best between 5 am and 11 am. this is when they naturally get most of their work done. Afternoon people are sleepy in the mornings but are at their peak between 11 am and 5 pm. Night people get more done after 5 pm than during the day. And finally, the all-rounders can go at any time of the day.

It is very important to identify your peak performance time so that you can schedule more most important work for that time. For example, I am an afternoon person. So I schedule my lighter tasks for the morning. And I leave my afternoons for writing, lecturing, recording or working on my next big project. This way I ensure I am bringing the best version of myself to these important tasks.

Identify your peak performance time

How to identify yours

There are many ways to identify your peak performance time, but I’m just going to show you the easiest way. Simply keep track of your energy levels for a week and you will figure it out.

For one week, be alert regarding which times of the day you get an energy boost. If you find a consistent pattern, like every day around 3 pm, then that is your peak performance time.

If you find yourself getting waves of energy boosts throughout the day and night, then you are likely an all-rounder and one of the lucky few who has multiple peak performance times per day.

A night owl in the morning

What to do with this time

Simply put, once you identify your peak performance time, make adjustments to your schedule accordingly. If you discover that you are an afternoon person, and have been struggling to write every morning, move your writing time to the afternoon. (That’s what I did)

If you find yourself wide awake late at night but unable to get much done during the day, then schedule your most important work for an hour or two before sleeping. Not only will you utilize your peak performance time better, but you will use up that energy and help yourself fall asleep faster.

Peak performance time should be used for the most difficult work in your schedule. Anything that requires your full attention and maximum effort should be scheduled for this time. Doing so not only ensures the best quality work but also gets it done faster.

For example, if I write early in the morning, it may take me two hours to write 500 words. In an afternoon, however, I can write 1000 words in 30 minutes! So utilizing your peak performance time wisely benefits you in more ways than one.

To continue learning about peak performance, high concentration tasks and time management, grab your copy of Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide to Time Management today.

Getting The Barakah by Ismail Kamdar
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Life Hacks, Productivity, 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?
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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 7 comments