Managing The Minutes

Have you ever wished there are more than 24 hours a day?

I have. I often find myself tirelessly chasing after time. In the midst of meeting deadlines and trying to find time to do the things I want, I am still learning and figuring out how to manage it better.

It’s scary how fast time flies – one minute you are having breakfast, and the next, you are back from work and preparing to go to sleep. One moment we are ushering in the new year, and the next thing we know, we are already penning down our reflections over what has happened and writing resolutions for the next. Just where did all the time go?

We used to have chunks of time to do many things – even time for doing absolutely nothing at all – when we were younger. I remember the days felt longer, time passed slower, there was enough time to do all that was needed to be done, and sleeping early was never an issue.

But as we get older, the chase for time gets increasingly tougher. Without realizing, time is slipping off our fingers. I always find myself rushing for time and wishing there are more hours to a day.

Whenever I think about this, I get reminded of something that our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W said:

“Among the signs of the Last Day, is that time would move faster – so that a whole year would pass like a month, a month would pass like a week, a week like a day, a day like an hour, and an hour like the amount of time it takes to kindle a fire.”

In order to stop myself from being a victim of procrastination and mindless time-wasting, I have decided to compile some tips on managing time better, and to remind myself to respect my own time. (As are all lists, this list is not exhaustive. If you have more tips on managing time better, please feel free to share! I’d love to know)

  • Plan your time

Yes, I believe in planners. Sort your day’s activities over breakfast. Start by writing down your ‘Agenda for the Day’. List it in your little notebook. Estimate the amount of time you would need to complete each task. Be realistic with your goals of the day. Setting too much expectation on the amount of tasks you want to complete might just distract you from completing anything at all. Which brings me to my next point.

  • Focus on finishing a task, one at a time

I admit, I am one of those rather ambitious overachievers who want to get as much things done as I can simultaneously. In other words, excessive multi-tasking. But instead of having many things done, I’d find myself in a meddled, insurmountable pile of mess at the end of the day, with nothing being accomplished. Wait, I haven’t done this. Hold on, I need to start on this project as well. I have a book to read. Maybe I should start a bit on it? But I need to get back to my essay. You know this madness? I realize my mistake of wanting to have a bite of everything on my plate at the same time, ends up with me not being able to even finish one piece of cake. When planning, it is important to allocate just one thing to focus at a time, before starting on the next.

  • Avoid social media

Yes, if money is the root of all evil, then social media is the root of all procrastination. When you are doing your work, avoid it like a plague! Put a temporary ban on Tweeting, Tumblring, Facebooking, Instagramming, and whathaveyous. You’ll realize that a whole chunk of time can be saved from staying away from these time-suckers. Or simply, avoid your phone at all cost. It is okay to not reply text messages from your friends promptly. I’m sure they will understand. If it is really that urgent, they would call you up. Otherwise, learn to say no.

  • Do your morning exercise

They say a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. As cliché as it is, we all know it’s true. I find mornings, right after Subuh prayers, to be the best time to run. I do agree that it is hard to find the time to do so because of work or morning classes. How about allocating weekend mornings to do so? When you have the time to kickstart your day with an awesome run, or any exercise of your choice, do it. It’ll better regulate your blood circulation, make your body pumped up for the activities you have planned for the day, and you can think clearer, and feel happier too.

  • Wake up early

Don’t we just love the smell of endless possibilities and opportunities in the morning? As a morning person, I can attest to this. The rare times when I get knocked out the night before and wake up late in the afternoon, I would feel disoriented, and regretful for having wasted half my day away. Waking up late also makes me feel more lethargic than usual. It might be hard for those who are not early risers, but I think waking up early is a useful, healthy habit to get the productive gears running, so you could make full use of you time throughout the day. You’ll be surprised at how much more you could accomplish when you wake up early.

  • Read the Qur’an

I came across this on Dr Bilal Philips’ Facebook page, and I couldn’t agree more:

“If you suffer from a lack of time during your day, make room for reciting Qur’an. It doesn’t take out from your day, it blesses it!”

It is amazing that making time for the Qur’an gives us more time, instead of taking it away. That’s the magic and beauty of our faith. What’s more wonderful than having our minutes being blessed and taken care of everyday? I have tried this a few times, and I feel calm, peaceful, and more productive throughout the day. Read a brief surah after Subuh prayers, or when you’re commuting to work or school. Choose any surah you want, and read it anytime you want – He guarantees instant blessings to your day.

  • Remind yourself that time is a luxury & a blessing from Him

We constantly forget that time is a gift. Time is precious, and every second passed is a second closer to death. Surah Al-Asr illustrates this beautifully and succinctly – By time, indeed Mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.  [Qur’an 103:1-3]

It is important to keep this in mind, so we could always respect and appreciate the time given to us, and so we could utilize it to the best we can.

It’s a struggle, this race against time. The only way to win, is to decide how best to manage it. Every hole of distraction we let ourselves fall into, is a step closer to losing the race. There are many distractions that hinder us from cherishing this gift we are only blessed with once in this life. But with constant planning, discipline, and reminders, I believe we will all continue to improve and learn to manage our time better. Slowly but surely, we will find, instead of constantly chasing after time, time will be on our side.

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