Do you often find yourself stressed and unsure of how you’re going to navigate through all your obligations? Do you also tend to exaggerate the size of your workload in your head so much that you put it off for later, then exhaust yourself trying to catch up? Take this as a sign to slow down – your brain is working so fast that it’s tiring the rest of your body!
Islam teaches us to strike a balance between all our obligations by specifying which ones we must pursue. In fact, when we think about our Islamic obligations, we realise how helpful they are in filling our spiritual soul. It reminds us that Allah (swt symbol) cares about us and our wellbeing, as well as how it affects our relationships, especially with our family and our faith.
The importance of a balanced lifestyle was also emphasised by the Prophet (pbuh symbol), who said:
“Observe the fast sometimes and also leave it at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.”
With how important good time management is in Islam, it’s important to know which habits you should keep in your day to day life. To help with that, this article will share with you the top 9 tips on how to stay productive, as according to Islamic teachings.
1. Prepare in advance
Preparation takes many forms. It could be the mental preparation and mantras that you repeat. As Muslims, we already feel blessings after we say the morning dua:
All praise is to Allah who gave us life after having taken it from us, and to Him we return.
الْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي أَحْيَانَا بَعْدَ مَا أَمَاتَنَا وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ
Alhamdu lillaahil-lathee ‘ahyaanaa ba’da maa ‘amaatanaa wa’ilayhin-nushoor
As for preparing for the physical tasks of the day, you’ll be way ahead of the crowd simply by getting up ten minutes earlier than others and jotting down your goals for the day. Get yourself a journal or planner if you are the type to really enjoy planning. A plain notebook works great too for fresh pages.
2. Refine your schedule
It’s okay to cross out activities in your schedule if you think they’re filling up too much of your time. If you aren’t ready to cross something right off, you can put a question mark next to the activity to indicate you don’t consider it as too important.
You can also get rid of goals you don’t truly want to achieve. If a hobby no longer interests you, you don’t have to force yourself to do it. If a form of meditation does not have its required benefits, then don’t stress about it or blame yourself – some methods just might not work for you.
3. Take a break
After a long week of work, pause and embrace your weekend. If you’re working or studying on the weekends, make more time to rest during the week, because breaks are important for recalibrating your brain and getting you recharged to tackle the rest of your work. Even the Prophet (pbuh symbol) took breaks by taking naps after the Friday prayer. He also took naps at noon time.
4. Sleep early
Sleeping earlier is crucial for a wholesome sleep. If you are capable of falling asleep early, then great news – you have the golden ticket to a much better quality of life!
Prophet pbuh especially took great lengths to make sure he slept early and had a restful sleep. After Isha, he used to not talk in preparation for an early night’s sleep. He also used to say subhanallah, alhamdulillah and allahu akbar thirty times when preparing to sleep, as well as recite Surat al-Mulk, chapter 67 of the Quran.
5. Unfollow and unfriend
Social media can take up a lot of your time. If you are starting to feel intimidated by a certain account, and feel like you need to try harder to fit in without knowing why, take a break from talking to internet friends and instead focus on introspection. How much are people online influencing the way you act? Is it a positive change? Could you do better if you had some time to yourself? These are the type of questions to think about during your time away from social media.
6. Don’t take your health for granted
Looking after our health and taking care of the body we have been given by Allah SWT is an important part of our faith, so be diligent about avoiding it if you can help it. Apply moderation in the effort you put into work, and focusing on eating healthy and sleeping enough hours. Work and health need to be balanced for you to operate at your best.
7. Use your time wisely
It is best to take full advantage of what time you have, because soon you’ll find that you’ve become very busy, and now must catch up to your previous work first.
Even if you’re feeling unmotivated, aim to finish what you can today, so that you won’t get overwhelmed tomorrow. As Ali ibn Abi Talib said:
“The person who best understands time is not taken aback by its proceedings.” (Ghurarul Hikkam)
8. Save just five minutes
Everyone has their struggles. Concentration problems, memory problems, motivation problems – there are days when these problems compile and leave you not feeling the best about yourself or life.
And, that’s okay. If you want to take a break, but feel like it will ruin your flow, at least start on your task. Make the rule of at least working on the task for five minutes. If you feel braver, you can try working a bit longer. Your future self will thank you for making the task that tiny bit easier.
9. Remember you’re only human
Sometimes, you just have to let go. For women in particular, we hold some serious responsibilities both at the workplace and at home which makes us more susceptible to stress.
One of the teachings of Islam is that Allah SWT is the Most Forgiving, so if He still loves you despite all your flaws, then you are definitely allowed to love yourself. Some forms of guilt come from the Shaytan, so beware of the Shaytan and remember the forgiveness and kindness of Allah SWT.
One thing to keep in mind is that productivity is a journey, not a goal. Be sincere in your intentions, and results will follow.