Manage Your Time and Your Life

Published January 12, 2011

By Basheer Jummah


Whoever wishes to achieve something worthwhile in life needs to first change himself/herself. The change has to begin with self?improvement and self?discipline. A man who gets organized and disciplined in his own person automatically becomes effective and is better positioned to achieve objectives, big and small.

Advantages of Getting Organized:
· Leads directly to reduction of stress
· Enhances efficiency, increases effectiveness
· Increases our chances of success in our endeavors as we are better able to utilize and control ourselves, our time, and our resources
· Better able to influence our household, our comrades, and team members
· Improve our future by being able to devote ourselves adequately to important and worthwhile things
· Better able to determine our priorities in life, which is really the secret of success in achieving not just the difficult, but also the impossible

Self-discipline is one of the most important requisites of a balanced life. Balance in life also requires that we have a mission in life. Awareness of the purpose of our life makes it possible and easy for us to define our goals.

Time is more precious than gold, pearls, and diamonds, because time is life itself

We also need to be aware of what the future, both immediate and long term, demands of us in furtherance of our aims in life. We need to know further what specific actions are required on our part in order that these demands are effectively fulfilled.

We need to be aware of our religious obligations, which really pervade and embrace our moral values, our social and family life, our commercial and business pursuits, in fact, our whole life, not only on this side of death, but the other (and everlasting and therefore supremely important) side as well. We need to know how to meet all of these often apparently conflicting responsibilities in a balanced way so as to be successful in this life as well as the life hereafter.

An essential prerequisite of attaining discipline and balance in our lives is that we use the resources at our disposal in the most effective manner possible. One of the most important resources is time, of which everyone has been given an equal measure. Proper and judicious use of this resource is the key to success.

Importance of Time

Time is a resource without like or parallel. It is a perishable commodity. It cannot be touched, seen or stored.

Like ice, if exposed and not used, it is soon lost. Time has no substitute. Time cannot be used or wasted in advance. If you waste time, it is immediately replaced by succeeding units of time. You cannot in any case recall time gone by. The time that is gone by is the time past. Even regretting its passage is a cause of further waste of this precious resource. We can think about and plan for the time that is yet to come, but it cannot be used until it is actually here. The time that can be used is the time we are passing through at this particular moment.

Lack of awareness of the importance of punctuality and regularity is detrimental to progress

A man is always short of the means that could enable him to utilize time in the best possible manner. He always complains of the lack of time. He puts off lots of things for a time of leisure that never seems to arrive. He is so involved in the affairs of the world that he would probably have leisure only in the grave. Yet, he does not stop to think of that particular future phase of his existence.

For most people, life is the present time centering on the office, the business premises, the boss, the entrepreneur, and the work place, with its paraphernalia of furniture, files, business reports, balance sheets, machinery, and equipment. These are the things our lives appear to revolve around. Keeping the boss happy is the zenith of our ambition, the central theme of our existence. In the process, we may destroy our own prospects in the life hereafter.

In Surah Al-Asr, Allah declares by `Time’ that man is in great loss of except those who possess the following attributes:
l those who believe
l those who do good
l those who exhort others towards truth and
l those who exhort others towards steadfastness

In explaining this Surah, Imam Fakhruddin Razi writes, `Asr’ or Time is the framework in which wondrous events keep occurring. It is within the confines of `Asr’ that man does all that he does and all that befalls him, whether it is happiness or sorrow, poverty or riches, peace or conflict. The time of human life is therefore supremely important.

Imam Razi says, “It was from an ice?seller that I learned the meaning of Surah Al-Asr. The ice vendor’s sales pitch was the lament, “Have pity on the man whose wealth is melting away, mercy for one whose capital is fast disappearing.” Hearing his lament, I reflected that this is the meaning of the Holy verse, “By the Time, man is in great loss.” The finite life that is given to man is fast eroding in the same manner as ice melts away. Man therefore will end up in sorrow if he wastes his time or spends it in wrong pursuits.”

In the same context, Sheikh Abul Fattah says, “Loss and deprivation is in store for those who do not value time and waste all the time that is available to them. The time of life is soon spent, and one who has not used it properly is left empty handed.”

Allah says in Surah Al?Furqan of the Quran, verse 72, “The slaves of Allah are those who do not bear witness of falsehood and when they run across senseless activity, pass by with dignity.”

The last Prophet (pbuh) said, “Among Allah’s bounties are two which are not properly made use of by people: health and available time. He whose two days are equal (in accomplishment) is a sure loser.”

The Prophet (pbuh) also said, “Man will not move one step from Allah’s presence until he has accounted for 5 things:
· one—in what pursuits was his life spent
· two—how was his youth spent
· three—how did he earn his income
· four—how did he spend his earnings and
· five—how much of his knowledge (of good) did he put into practice

Sahaba and Time

Abu Bakr (R) used to pray thus, “O Allah, keep us not in darkness, forgive us our trespasses, and make us not heedless of time.”

Umar’s (R) prayer was, “O Allah, make my time gainful and cause me to put it to good use.”

Time, therefore, is more precious than gold, pearls, and diamonds, because time is life itself. Meticulous planning of time alone does not guarantee success; it is also essential that the effort to achieve an objective be made at a time that is appropriate for it. Wise men desist even from giving advice and counsel that is premature or too late and pray to Allah for every objective to be achieved at the appropriate time.

You should have short-term and long-term plans for achieving objectives, as this would make for more effective utilization of your time

Ali (R) warned, “Let a day’s task be completed that very day since the following day will dawn with tasks of its own. Today is the opportunity for action; reckoning is for tomorrow when opportunity for action will be afforded no more.”

He also said, “Praiseworthy is he who realizes the value of opportunity (for good deeds) provided by life (while it lasts), puts it to good use, and approaches death thus well prepared to meet it. Devote your choicest hours in seeking the pleasure of Allah, to whom belongs all Time anyway.”

Our Time Wasters

Trying to do everything on your own leads to excessive experimentation and waste. We should learn to learn from others and to allow the experience of others to guide us.

· Trying to be very obliging leads to a waste of time. We should only promise what we can deliver. A polite `no’ is perhaps the best course of action.
· Time is wasted in the pursuit of perfection. A task is thus never completed because the result is never perfect.
· Purposeless activity, application of effort without the required skill, and understanding of what is involved, wastes time.
· Lethargy and procrastination are big time?wasters.
· Leaving things half done is a big time waster.
· Lack of self-discipline, lack of control over one’s emotions, and lack of understanding of the environment are all causes of the waste of time.
· Lack of due attention to our affairs, lack of feedback on tasks in hand, and lack of follow up all lead to a waste of time.
· Functions like marriages and parties in our society generally end up consuming 4 to 5 hours, a criminal waste of this precious resource!
· Lack of ability to make decisions and boldly assume responsibility leads to indefinite postponement of important decisions and related actions.
· Lack of awareness of the importance of punctuality and regularity is detrimental to progress.
· Not providing the required training and not preparing functionaries for responsibilities that lie ahead leads to wastage of a whole organization’s time in a collective sense.
· Useless talk over the phone or lacing the essential with the superfluous is a constant drain on time.

Symptoms of Bad Time Management:

If a person displays one or more of the following traits, then he/she is a bad time manager. Such a person would need to review his approach towards life.

· Never finding the time to attend to important matters
· Finding the bulk of one’s time taken up with attending frantically to tasks of an urgent and immediate nature
· Staying up late unnecessarily
· Taking work home
· Not taking the paperwork in stride, waiting for the right `mood’
· Being involved with helping others in their work at the expense of one’s own assignments
· Considering oneself to be indispensable for the organization worked for
· Finding it difficult to say `no’ even though circumstances warrant
· Being generally under pressure, being upset, being pressed for time as a rule rather than as an exception
· Not being able to complete a task at the appropriate time
Try marking yourselves against this check list. It is likely that improvement may begin almost at once.

Suggestions for Effective Use of Time

Start putting just a few of the following ideas into practice and find the door leading to a better life opening wide for you. Ar?Rahman, the Merciful, will value as pearls the sweat that would flow in the process:

· Be aware of the importance of time.
· Become aware of your aim in life, the very purpose of your existence.
· You should have short-term and long-term plans for achieving these objectives, as this would make for more effective utilization of your time.
· Without further delay, jot down the list of things that cause your time to be wasted.
· Make a complete list of tasks you started at one time or another but have not taken to a conclusion yet.
· Try to be more effective at the psychological level; try to understand and realize the difference between being just present and being effective and try to improve your potential accordingly.
· Be moderate in all your activities irrespective of whether they concern worship, socializing, business, politics, food, or planning for the future. Learn to plan your work.
· Work with full involvement. Take a break whenever needed.
· Smile when you talk to people. Don’t react seriously to everything people say.
· Don’t allow work or a task to become an obsession.
· Use your leisure hours more effectively. Find time to read the right books, newspapers, and magazines.
· Self-development must also be given of your time and attention.

Basheer JummahAuthor Muhammad Basheer Juma is by profession an accountant, and a partner in Sidat Hyder, a leading CA firm in Pakistan.

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