We all feel bad "wasting" time. We realize time spent on trivial things makes us lazy and unproductive. However, many of us fail to visualize the long-term consequences of killing time on futile matters, both in this world and the world that awaits us.
The following words of wisdom will help us appreciate how the most productive and influential leaders and scholars of Islam valued time.
1. Time can't return.
Whatever time passes by will not return and cannot be replaced. Imam Ibn al-Jawzi used to say, "The breaths of man are his steps to death!". Moreover, Imam Ash-Shafiee would say, "Time is like a Sword. Cut it (wisely), before it cuts you!" Therefore, kill your time productively, before it kills you!
2. Boxes are sealed.
A teacher used the following analogy of boxes: Each hour is like a box that is sealed and placed in a shelf. On the Day of Judgement, these boxes (24 boxes/per day) will be opened and their contents will be displayed to us.
If we filled each hour of our day in life with good deeds, we will rejoice. If we filled these hours with useless amusements and sins, we will regret to see the contents of the boxes on that Day. How we fill them these 24 boxes every day is our choice. Only we have control over it. Once they are sealed as the day ends, only Allah has the keys to unlock them on the Day of Judgment.
3. The most priceless possession of man: life itself.
An Imam used to remind his students, "Time is not just money. It is more expensive than gold, diamonds and pearls. Time is life itself!"
Hassan al Basri: "O son of Adam! You are but a bundle of days. As each day passes away, a portion of you vanishes away." Can we afford to lose a portion of our body or soul everyday to hellfire through wastage of time on useless and un-Islamic things?
4. Accountability of youth and life.
We will be asked about our youth and life on the Day of Judgment, both of which are related to time.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, warned us, "Man shall not be let go or discharged on the Day of Judgement until he has been questioned about FOUR things:
1- with regard to his Life: how did he spend it?
2- with regard to his Youth: in what ways did he expend it?
3- with regard to his Wealth: where did he earn it from and what did he spend it on?
4- with regard to his Knowledge: what use did he put it to?"
(Al-Bazzar and At-Tabarani)
5. Better to be stingy with wasting time.
Hassan al Basri, a renowned follower of the Companions, once said, "I have lived with a people who were more stingy with their time than you people are with your money."
6. Idle Person: A sign of Allah's dislike.
Imam Ibn Qayyim stated, "One of the many signs that one is disliked by Allah is the wasting of his or her time." Allah allows a person who is neglectful of His message to be involved in activities that are worthless.
7. Disrespect to Time.
Productive Muslims of the past would consider it disrespect to time, if they spent a day without doing any thing beneficial to their community or to themselves. One of them would say, "I do not regret anything as much as I regret a day in which my good actions have not increased."
8. Procrastination and Laziness are dangerous!
We are not sure whether we will live until tomorrow to be able to do something good. Even if we live till tomorrow, are we certain that there won't be any obstacles in carrying out that action. Why putt off something good to an abyss of uncertainty? If we procrastinate and waste time today, what will motivate us to spend time productively tomorrow?
9 Ungratefulness to Allah's gift.
Leisure and spare time are blessings from Allah which we grossly undervalue today. As the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, reminded us, "Good health and spare time are two of the blessings of Allah with respect to which many people are deceived." (Bukhari)
10. Lose time, Lose peace.
Some pious scholars used to say that those people who kill their time in unproductive ways would lose peace and serenity from their hearts. They would be so overwhelmed with work deadlines and harmful amusements of this life that they would rarely have time to spend with their family, in remembering Allah, and on causes that matter- the real source of tranquility or sakina in life.
11, Ready for tomorrow?
Let's remember the old Muslim adage,"Work for your world as if you are going to live forever and work for your hereafter as if you are going to die tomorrow."
12. Productivity shouldn't die with our death.
We should not miss any opportunity to do a good deed even if the world is ending. We are asked to be productive and optimistic even in times of crisis and chaos.
Prophet Muhammad said, "If the day of judgement is about to happen and one of you has a seedling in his hands, he should go ahead and plant that before he is overwhelmed by the day." (Hadith)
13. Return Allah's Trust.
Time is a trust from Allah, it is our responsibility to use it in the most effective way pleasing to Allah. We all know how difficult and embarrassing it is to face someone, for instance our parent or teacher, after we break their trust by disobeying their instructions. How would we face Allah if we break His trust?
14. Being Productive is Sunnah (Prophetic tradition).
As the Prophet advised us,"Every day, for every joint in the body a person should perform a charity; reconciling between two brothers is charity; helping somebody lift his baggage is charity; every step you take towards Salaah is charity; and every time you remove something harmful from the way is charity. (Bukhari and Muslim). This is how the Prophet, peace be upon him, encouraged us to fill our time with such productive acts.
15. Prophet's Time Management:
This is how Prophet Muammad, peace and blessings buwould plan his day: He would divide his day into three parts: (1) for his family, (2) for spirituality and Ibadah (worship), usually a time in seclusion at night, and (3) for personal and social affairs (majority of this time would be spent dealing with people's problems, overseeing, educating, and mobilizing his community).
Tips on How to be Ultra Productive
Write down what needs to be accomplished – Use paper, not mind to store this info. Leave your brain for ideas and thinking. Reduces stress.
Break tasks down into the smallest unit possible – Determine the next action step. Start Now!
Set Milestones & Reward yourself – Let others know about your deadlines to hold yourself accountable
Prepare your environment for productivity
Use your most productive hours for your most important tasks.
Start with the quickest/easiest tasks first – If something takes 2-5 minutes to complete, do it right away.
Only work on one task a time - no emailing, MSN messenger, or calling.
Organize life on a daily and weekly basis - Treat each day as unique.Plan similar activities around the same time/on same days
Carve out time for non-urgent activities- Check your emails/voice messages 3 times a day. Fix time for regular chores.
Be flexible- Be willing to accommodate unexpected things for others and for Allah. Learn to negotiate with yourself.