Do You Want To Be More Productive?
Here’s a list of what I did yesterday:
- Fixed my wife’s computer
- Bought much needed office supplies for my business
- Helped a blind Muslim get his own podcast started
- Taught an Islamic Studies class
- Studied Arabic for one hour
- Studied video editing for one hour
- Memorized three lines of Quran
Many people often ask me how I get so much done. They wonder how am I able to manage a business, have a family, further my education, exercise, and improve my Islamic knowledge.
First I’d like to say this didn’t happen overnight. Also, let me stress that while this list doesn’t cover everything I did that day (nothing about my prayers are mentioned, but trust me, I made them all).
At the same time, there were a few things that I wanted to accomplish that I didn’t get to do. And this level of efficiency or productivity doesn’t come without a few trade-offs.
For example, I normally eat dinner with my daughter while we watch a short movie or a video on Netflix. Well, I didn’t get to do that yesterday.
But even though I may have missed a few things, I was blessed to accomplish a whole lot.
The question as to how I was able to do that is much more complex.
Things didn’t get this way overnight. In fact, I believe that at one point of my life, not too long ago in fact, I probably wasted hours of it on useless activity.
And if I got really honest, there are many hurtful things that happened in my life to make me take a step back and review how things were going. These events that I experienced, while certainly not pleasant, were helpful in getting my head on straight.
So let’s just say this level of productivity didn’t come without a significant amount of pain.
But still, there may be something you can learn from my method without suffering the same things I did.
More Work – Less Fun
One of the first things I encourage people to do is to control their addiction to entertainment. Really folks, it has to stop.
You don’t need to have some form of entertainment in front of you the entire day.
Now I’m not saying give up your tech gadgets and your tablets and fancy smartphones. I’m a super geek/nerd and I love those things as much (if not more) than you do.
But how about using them productively?
You probably have a calendar or schedule or to-do list app of some sort. That’s great. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
What I mean is use your gadget to do something that will benefit you. Perhaps you’re looking to upgrade your career or learn some new skill that you could use in your business or job.
Use your gadgets to help you get better at that.
And even more important than improving your situation in this life, would be improving your situation in the next life.
You can use modern technology to increase your faith or increase your Islamic knowledge or find answers to some questions about Islam that you’ve always wanted answered.
Heck, when you get right down to it, that’s what this website is all about. Islamic Learning Materials and its affiliated websites are here to help you use Islam to improve your life, and technology is the medium through which we teach.
Okay, so that’s first on your list. Cut out some of your fun time and use it for learning time.
Plan Your Day Or Week In Advance
Next, try to get serious about using your time wisely. In my experience, I’ve found the best way to do this is to plan ahead.
Do you know how I’m able to accomplish so much in one day?
I planned everything that I wanted to do that day.
Sure, some things went longer than anticipated and some other things had to put off till later, but I still got a lot done.
There are several ways you can plan ahead.
I usually try to plan an entire week ahead. I’ve known some people who plan months ahead. I’m not there yet.
You don’t necessarily have to do all that. But try to plan at least one day ahead.
The best time to do this would be the night before. Write a list (and yes, I do mean WRITE) the night before detailing the things you want to get done the next day.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by writing down fifteen different things knowing each one would take at last two hours.
Be realistic. And be practical.
Just write down those things that you feel are absolutely necessary.
So if you really want to spend more time reading Quran, then write it down on a to-do list.
Once again, I do mean write. Use a pen/pencil and paper. In my opinion, that tactile touch of pen against paper burns the thing in your memory.
And if you write down some things and aren’t able to get to them, then make sure you move it to the next day or to later in the week.
That’s very important!
You will inevitably miss something on your list. Down let it just slip away. Keep at it until you get it done.
Now here’s how I do things.
Like I mentioned above, I’m a nerd/geek. I love technology. And I love putting it to use in my life.
So when something comes up that I know I want to do, rather than try to keep it in my memory, I whip out my cell phone and put it in my calendar. My calendar is synced across my phone, computer, laptop, and tablet.
But my phone is almost always close at hand so it’s usually the first thing to get the notification.
And as I also mentioned, every weekend, either Saturday or Sunday, I take a few minutes to plan out my week.
And yes, it only takes a few minutes to do this. I try to think of everything I would like to accomplish during the week and put it on my calendar.
So rather than create a to do list for the next day, I create a to-do list for the next seven days.
I know I said you should physically write these things down, but that was when I was a rookie and had to get used to being organized. Now, I’m a little more disciplined (Insha Allah) and use technology to the fullest.
Be Intentional About What You Want
The main point of all this is that you’re going to have to take action if you want to be productive. It’s not going to come just by hoping for it. You have to put the effort forward.
I always like using the example of Maryam the Mother of Jesus as mentioned in the Quran. She was going through the pains of birth and she cried out to Allah for help.
The pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said:
“Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.”
But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.
And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.
Chapter 19 verses 23 – 25
She needed help from Alalh, but look how she was instructed. She had to make the effort to shake the tree in order for the sustenance to come.
You’ll have to do the same thing.
Make dua to Allah to make you more productive and waste less time.
But then put the effort in to make that dua come true, all the while knowing that only Allah can make it happen.by