Closing his eyes, he lies in bed awake, unable to sleep. There are too many things on his mind that he finds it difficult to doze off. What did he even accomplish today? There are still so many things that need to be done. Instead of putting things aside and worrying about them tomorrow, his mind races to all of the tasks that he needed to complete today but just wasn’t able to get around to. He looks at the clock and sees that it is already 12:30. He wonders when he will finally fall asleep.
Life is a balancing act. Between work, home, kids, household chores, friends, errands, and endless other demands, we are constantly trying to juggle our responsibilities. With all that a human being has to do, how can he/she remain sane? Allah (SWT) in the Quran offers us a solution: “He has created man; He has taught him intelligent speech. The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed, and the plants and the trees bow in adoration. The Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance in order that you may not transgress due balance” (Quran 55:3-8). These ayaat teach us the importance of balance, keeping in mind that Allah (SWT) has given us an abundance of resources to use in our everyday lives to get the job done such as time, energy, intelligence, talent, and wealth. We must use them in the best way possible to balance our responsibilities of deen and dunya.
When we do not keep a positive balance in our lives, the result is stress that can negatively affect our minds and bodies. There are numerous physical as well as emotional detriments to feeling stress. Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress. These physical manifestations of stress include headaches, stomachaches, difficulty falling sleep, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Stress can also lead to emotional problems such as a depressed mood or panic attacks. It is essential to keep stress at bay. One way in which stress caused by being overwhelmed with responsibilities can be tamed is by striving to stay organized.
Tips on Keeping the Balance
Write things down. Whether it is three loads of laundry, memorizing ten ayaat, or completing a project for work, it is essential to write things down. Many times, we have so many things floating in our heads that it increases our stress level without us even realizing it. By writing each item down, we are taking the endless barrage of our need-to-do inventory – the duties, obligations, commitments, promises, and goals – out of our minds and putting them onto paper where they can be handled in a more productive way. Dr. John Demartini states, “When you make a list of all the objectives that are at hand and take each one individually… you reduce anxiety, uncertainty and increase the probability of getting into action leading to fulfillment. This reduces tension and stress and makes for better digestion and thus improves overall health.”
Prioritize. Once we have everything written down (pack for the business trip, go to the bank, bake a cake for the school bake sale, etc.), it is time to prioritize the list by numbering the items according to which item needs to be completed first. Oftentimes our lists are so unorganized that we remain confused as to what to focus our attention on first.
Add details. Once the list is prioritized, we can add a few details to make it more productive. Next to each item, we can write down what is required in order to accomplish that task. With the details on how to complete it, the job becomes less daunting and more attainable.
Take action. Once the list is written, prioritized, and detailed, now is the time to take action. Focus on the first item on the list and do what needs to be done to complete it. We have the tendency to procrastinate at this point as we still feel overwhelmed by all the items on the list. The key is to focus solely on the task at hand as if it is the only thing that is important in the moment (in actuality, that’s true because it is highest on the list of priorities and needs our attention and effort in the most immediate way). But in order to keep our stress levels down, we must be determined to accomplish our tasks. And each step we take makes the overall endeavor easier.
Cross it out. Once a task is accomplished, the best part of the whole process is to cross it off the list. By physically seeing a line through the task, one can automatically feel a sense of accomplishment and a renewed motivation to complete the rest of the list.
With these five simple steps, we can transform our days from being haphazard to organized, a necessary foundation for remaining in control of our sanity. It will also assist us in decreasing our stress levels and contribute to an overall healthy mind and body. It may assist us on the journey of juggling our duties as citizen, spouse, parent, adult son or daughter, homemaker or working person, and most importantly, as a worshipper of Allah (SWT). In addition, if we keep our tongues moist with the remembrance of Allah (SWT) throughout our busy days, Allah will bless our thoughts, actions, and words, and will help us accomplish more than we could have ever imagined.