Tag Archives: time management

9 Things You Can Do To Revive the Prophet’s Time-Management Sunnah

IBR-1113189

By Taha Ghayyur

  1. First things first: Figure out the real priorities in your life. What’s worth spending an hour on? What comes first? What is a must-do and what is good-to-do?
  2. Allocate time consistently to activities that matter. Unless you plan for and schedule time for community work, or studies, or attending to parents, spouse, or children, on daily basis, it’s not considered important enough to you; chances are you will eventually start neglecting these high priority actions.
  3. Schedule your day around five daily prayers. No compromises. This will not only develop your discipline, but also your will-power to live a purposeful life.
  4. Plan for significant events in your life yearly. Whether it’s getting married, or applying for university, or going to Hajj, or paying Zakat, or attending a conference, or organizing a community event, plan for it so other trivial matters do not distract you from your goal.
  5. Be an early riser. Schedule your important tasks, specially that require mental exercise, earlier in the day, and see the Baraka (blessings) from Allah do the magic!
  6. Honour other’s time. Aim to make it to the meetings, classes, events 10 minutes before the start time. If you are running late, inform the other parties. Honouring other’s time is part of fulfilling your promise. Breaking a promise not only causes inconvenience to others, but also makes you loose respect in their sight.
  7. Just do it! Don’t waste any opportunity to do good. Don’t wait to ‘get old’ to fix your life. If you are not willing to live a purpose-driven, productive life now, then how do you expect Allah to give you a chance in future?
  8. Be optimistic and futuristic. Do not let failures and disappointments in life distract you from your lofty goals. Look beyond the temporal realities and plan for the future that matters. Otherwise, you may remain a loser now, as well as in the future.
  9. Think of a positive legacy you would like to leave, regardless of the time you have. Make your intention today to make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others. If you die tomorrow, your intention will count as your plan for a mission-driven life. But it won’t happen if you don’t act today to develop a firm intention and plan.

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Taha Ghayyur is a writer, a consultant, and a community organizer. He works as a freelance writer with WordMatters.ca and as the Development Manager with Sound Vision, a pioneer in Islamic multimedia in North America. He writes and speaks extensively on issues related to Muslim youth engagement, education, leadership, communication, self-development and community development.

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The Sunnah of Prophet’s Time-Management Calls for a Purpose-Driven Life

The Sunnah of Prophet’s Time-Management Calls for a Purpose-Driven Life

A few glimpses of Prophet Muhammad’s time-management principles that contributed to a productive and purpose-driven life.

Taha Ghayyur

He did not have access to an iPad or a Google calendar, nor did he have the luxury of a secretary who managed his appointments and itineraries.

Yet, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was the most disciplined and productive human being and leader known.

If you study the Sirah (life) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with specific focus on his daily and regular routines, it’s an eye-opener: How meticulous he was in planning every aspect of his day; how he prioritized his life; how serious he was about keeping his word; how he planned for important events in the year.

Here are a few glimpses of his time-management principles that contributed to a productive and purpose-driven life:

1- The Prophet divided the waking hours into three segments daily.

Spiritual Development: This was his time dedicated to Allah. It was typically the late part of the night when the Prophet would re-charge himself spiritually for the next day and boost his resolve to face the challenges in his mission. It was an intimate communication with his Lord, the source of all strength and empowerment, through Qiyam (prayer), Dua (supplication) and Dhikr (remembrance).

Family Affairs: This time, usually in the evening on daily basis, was with his wives and other family members. Despite his exceptionally heavy commitments to the community and governance, the Prophet prioritized serving his family and spending quality time with his loved ones over many other responsibilities.

Personal / Social Affairs: Throughout the day, the Prophet would try to find time to attend to his personal needs. However, he dedicated most of this segment to serving his companions and to attending to the community’s needs. This is the session when men and women would come with their personal, marital, financial, spiritual and even health problems; this is when he would receive delegations from other nations and faith group; this is when he would attend to nerve-wrecking issues of politics, conflicts, and leadership.

2- The Prophet’s daily schedule revolved around the five daily prayers.

As Aisha, the wife of the Prophet explained, when the time for Salah (prayer) approached, he would drop everything and head to the Masjid right away; it was as if he didn’t know anyone or anything else when the Azan (call to prayer) was called.

This discipline to give up all your work and life’s distractions for prayer shows the role that Salah played in living a mission-driven life and leading an extremely productive community.

3- The Prophet planned for significant events in the year.

Whether it was performing Umrah or Hajj, or sending a delegation to a nation, or freeing the slaves from their masters, or any other religious, political and family affair, he had it all figured out in advance.

4- The Prophet honoured other’s time.

He was sensitive to his companion’s time and needs. His Khutbas (sermons) were brief, concise, and powerful. Most of his talks or recorded sayings were no longer than 3-5 minutes. His more elaborate sermons did not seem to exceed 10 minutes. He would not only keep his sermons short, but would even shorten the congregational prayers if he realized that there were seniors, nursing mothers, or children attending to avoid inconvenience to them whenever possible.

He was also particular about keeping his appointments. Once, the Prophet gave an appointment to meet one of his companions to collect payment for a business transaction. The man forgot about the appointment and showed up three days later. The Prophet, peace be upon him, who was still waiting at the location, gently reprimanded the companion, saying: “You have caused me some trouble young man. I have been waiting for you for three days.” (Abu Dawud)

5- Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, encouraged his family and companions to start their day early to maximize blessings and productivity.

The Prophet said, “O Allah, bless my nation’s early rising.” If he dispatched an army or a division, he did that early in the morning. (Abu Dawud & Ibn Hibban)

Aisha reported that the Prophet advised, “Rise early to earn your living and do your affairs, for it brings about blessing and success.” (at-Tabarani)

Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter, said that when he saw her still lying in bed one morning, he told her, “My daughter, get up and witness your Lord’s bounty, and do not be among the indifferent; Allah distributes daily bread between the break of dawn and sunrise.” (al-Baihaqi)

Only a person with a lofty mission and vision would be able to commit to rise early every day and make things happen.

6- The Prophet had a sense of urgency in doing good & warned others against procrastination.

He said, “Lose no time to do good deeds before you are caught up by one of seven calamities awaiting you:

  • a starvation which may impair your wisdom;
  • a prosperity which may mislead you;
  • an ailment which may damage your health;
  • an old age which may harm your senses;
  • a sudden death;
  • the Dajjal (Antichrist);
  • or Doomsday, which is indeed the hardest and most bitter.”
    (Recorded by at-Tirmidhi, al-Baihaqi)

Procrastinators don’t appreciate the time, means, and opportunity Allah gives them to be productive. As Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once stated, “Good health and spare time are two of the blessings of Allah with respect to which many people are deceived.” (Al-Bukhari)
Each day has its own share of work and each time has its own share of obligations. Therefore, in the Prophet’s dictionary, there was no such thing as idle time.

7- The Prophet had a broad futuristic vision that transcended the current reality.

Surely, life was difficult and extremely disappointing in Makkah; from drought, to economic boycott, to personal insults, to psychological abuse, to physical torture, to death threats; he bore it all along with his family and the small community of believers. Even in Madinah, his enemies didn’t want him and his people to enjoy peace; war and treachery became a norm until the final days of his life. He had every reason to be depressed and lose incentive to stay committed to his divine mission.

Prophet Muhammad faced it all with a positive, futuristic vision that inspired his companions to keep struggling and to plan ahead. He consoled them with the assurance that Allah’s hand is with them. He gave them the glad tidings of real success in the Hereafter. He promised them contentment and spiritual heights in this life. He assured many of Allah’s pleasure with them. He was concerned about the future of the generations to come, making prophecies about heir successes. He was constantly looking for opportunities for strategic alliances to establish a sanctuary of peace. He was confident about the rays of hope on the horizon. He was not bound by the negative realities of his time; he envisioned a future beyond his time.

8- Prophet Muhammad’s shining legacy shows that we don’t need a lot of time to accomplish a lot of things.

In barely 23 years, the Prophet, with the help of divine hand and wisdom, brought about such a phenomenal transformation of a staggering magnitude that humanity has ever witnessed before or after his passing away.

There were some extraordinary companions of the Prophet, such as Musab bin Umair, Jafer bin Abi Talib, and Abu Bakr, as well as outstanding leaders, scholars and authors who lived briefly, but made a powerful impact on the generations of Muslims to come with their sincere intention and contribution.

A scholar like Imam An-Nawawi lived only 44 years, but left behind some of the most popular compilations of Hadith, inspiring millions of Muslims around the world every day! Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) lived only a few months after embracing the orthodox Islam, but the impact he had on American Islam and civil rights movement in America in the years and decades after his tragic death is incalculable.

Time is limited. Death is certain. But our intention to live a productive life and to serve Allah and His creation will itself be enough to count as a positive action.

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Taha Ghayyur is a writer, a consultant, and a community organizer. He works as a freelance writer with WordMatters.ca and as the Development Manager with Sound Vision, a pioneer in Islamic multimedia in North America. He writes and speaks extensively on issues related to Muslim youth engagement, education, leadership, communication, self-development and community development.

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Muslim Standard Time: How to Cure the Chronic Disease

By Taha Ghayyur

“Oh my God. I am running late, again! Well, it’s all good. No one is going to be there on time anyway.”

How many times have you heard this and similar phrases in the Muslim community? Perhaps you are guilty of uttering them yourself as a habit.

Sadly, starting off late, arriving late, and delaying our programs has become a norm for many of us.

It’s gotten so bad that we no longer even feel guilty about arriving late to a class, function, meeting, Jumah prayer or appointment. Many don’t even bother to apologize. We fail to realize how much time and resources of others we waste due to our own insensitivity and indifference.

I remember arriving at a wedding last summer about two hours late (due to a pre-planned legitimate reason), only to find over half the wedding hall full of non-Muslim guests still waiting for the bride and groom and their families to arrive. The most heartrending scene was of a group of non-Muslim friends laying on the ground asleep. It turned out they were out-of-town guests who had arrived a couple of hours prior to the “official’ start time.

Of course the blame goes both to the organizers of the events and the attendees. It’s easy to criticize the organizers, but we have to do our part of making the program or meeting professional. It begins with arriving on time and respecting everyone else’s time.

As Muslims, every time we arrive late we lose respect in the sight of others. Imam al-Ghazali, in his commentary to a Hadith describing the characteristics of hypocrites, states that the trait “when he makes a promise, he never fufills it” includes specially those who consistently say ‘In-sha-Allah’ and arrive late.

I know of  a great contemporary Muslim scholar who, when he used to enter a conference, meeting, or dinner, the audience or members would match and reset their watches to the minute he was supposed to arrive at because he was reputed to be strict with time-management.

What can you and your family do and how can you prepare to arrive on time at any event:

  1. Get the directions to where you are going in advance. The common excuse for arriving late we often present is “got lost” or “I didn’t have correct directions.”
  2. Arrange your ride at least two days in advance. Call around and find out who can give you a ride. Always have a backup plan for rides. “I didn’t get a ride” is one excuse given, to which I ask: did you ask around early enough? Don’t wait for others to offer you a ride.
  3. Start getting ready at least 30-45 min. before leaving home. Don’t run into the shower, squeeze in three Rak’at of Maghrib, or iron your clothes just three minutes before you are supposed to step out!
  4. Have a realistic estimate of travel time. If you know it takes 25 minutes to get to a place, you have to leave your home at least 35 minutes before arrival time.
  5. Consider weather and traffic conditions. Listen to the local news or watch the weather report before getting behind the wheel.
  6. The 10-minute Rule works! No matter what the occasion, always aim to get to the destination 10 minutes ahead of time. This allows you to accommodate any last-minute uncertainties: “Oh, I forgot my wallet at home,” “”Man, I have to pick Brother x on the way,” “Oops! I have to pray my ‘Asr before I get to….” etc.
  7. If it helps you, set your personal watch, cellphone or car time five minutes ahead.
  8. “Well it’s a typical Muslim party or conference! There is no way they will start on time!” Well, guess what, if we ALL adopt this attitude, no one would ever arrive on time and let the program start on time. We have to change this thinking and make a point to arrive on time. Being people of principle, we must remain consistent in all circumstances.
  9. Be honest! Be honest to yourself and others. If you know you are going to be late to a party or Halaqa, clearly set that expectation with your host, coordinator or meeting leader. What does it take to drop a message or call to let the other person know that you will be 10 to 15 minutes late (whether it’s due to expected or unexpected reasons).
  10. Don’t succumb to the “In-sha-Allah Syndrome.” Use In-sha-Allah only when you know you mean it.

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Interview with a ProductiveMuslim: Br. Taha Ghayyur

Dear Friends and Readers,

I was humbled and honoured to be requested for an interview by ProductiveMuslim.com, which is a great web resource for any Muslim who wants to change their life for the better.

ProductiveMuslim.com

Please listen to this audio interview, share your constructive feedback with me.

Take care
wassalam

Taha Ghayyur
tahag @ rogers.com

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Perils of Procrastination

By Taha Ghayyur

“We still have half an hour to the next prayer”
“I can start the assignment next week”
“The early bird deadline is tomorrow. Insha Allah, I will try to purchase them soon”
“Last minute Eid shopping is so exciting!”

These are some examples of excuses we make to put off important responsibilities and tasks to a later time. This is called procrastination, which is usually accompanied by shifting our focus to some other distraction.

10 Reasons Why People Procrastinate

There are many reasons people procrastinate, some more dangerous than others. Here are common causes of procrastination cited by psychologists:

  1. Anxiety (it’s too overwhelming a task to even attempt!).
  2. Low sense of self-worth and self-defeating mentality (what difference can I make? I am not capable of contributing something useful to this project).
  3. Under-estimation (it’s an insignificant thing to waste time on. I have better things to do).
  4. Distractive and disorganized environment (a messy desk or unproductive company of people).
  5. Perfectionism (a tendency to negatively evaluate outcomes and one’s own performance. The thinking that, “since I can’t achieve perfection, why bother trying?”)
  6. Heightened social self-consciousness (intense fear and avoidance of evaluation of one’s abilities by others)
  7. Recurrent low mood and laziness (life is horrible. No need to do work on this project)
  8. Workaholism (I am too busy with ‘work’, I don’t have time for this right now!)
  9. Love for last minute thrill (my creative juices begin to flow only when I am forced to write my essay!)
  10. Indecisiveness (Not making a decision right now would absolve me of responsibility for the outcome of events!)

How Procrastinators Work

Here are insights into the workings of procrastinators by two leading experts on procrastination, Dr. Joseph Ferrari (De Paul University, Chicago) and Dr. Timorthy Pychyl, Ph.D. (Carleton University, Ottawa). [i]

20% of people are chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don’t pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late.

Procrastinators are not born. Procrastination is usually learned in the family environment. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling parent hinders children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from articulating their intentions, and from making life decision for themselves.

Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. These include, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow” and “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work well under pressure.

Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is a good example. They distract themselves to manage emotions like the fear of failure.

Dangers of Procrastination

Those who are used to delaying things till a later time or like doing things last minute don’t realize the costs of procrastination.

Chronic procrastinators suffer from multiple health problems. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. Moreover, they had insomnia. [ii]

Procrastination has a high cost to others as well as to oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.

Procrastinators think that tomorrow is guaranteed to them. How can they put off an immediate priority, an obligatory act, or a good deed till a time when they may not even be alive?

Even if they live till tomorrow, they cannot be certain that their day will free of obstacles and distractions. How can they be sure they will have the time and energy to carry out that action? The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, used to call on Muslims to take the initiative to do good deeds before any problems arise.

For instance, he said, “Lose no time to do good deeds before you are caught up by one of seven calamities awaiting you:

1. a starvation which may impair your wisdom;
2. a prosperity which may mislead you;
3. an ailment which may damage your health;
4. an old age which may harm your senses;
5. a sudden death;
6. the Dajjal (Antichrist);
7. or Doomsday, which is indeed the hardest and most bitter.”
(at-Tirmidhi, al-Baihaqi)

Procrastinators don’t appreciate the time, means, and opportunity Allah gives them to be productive. As Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once stated, “Good health and spare time are two of the blessings of Allah with respect to which many people are deceived.” (Al-Bukhari)

Each day has its own share of work and each time has its own share of obligations. Therefore there is no such thing as idle time.

Postponement of good deeds and delaying of charitable acts leads people to become accustomed to ignoring them gradually. After a while they don’t even feel what good they are missing. Procrastination can eventually lead to sinning.


[i] Hara Estroff Marano, Procrastination: Ten Things To Know:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/rss/pto-20030823-000001.html

[ii]  H. Marano, Procrastination: Ten Things To Know.

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