Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Time Management

We all have heard of the Pickle Jar Theory. Imagine a large empty jar. Now we throw in big yellow lemons, we keep adding till we feel we can add no more. Try shaking the jar, and we will see that we can, in fact, add a lemon or two more. Of course, there is still space left, so lets try filling it with something smaller than lemons- maybe gooseberries, and then nutmegs. And when you can add no more, add lentils, kidney beans etc. Make it colorful. Finally, when you feel none of that will go in, add salt, sugar, some red chili powder, and other spices. And still, you will feel there is space left for lime juice, water or vinegar- maybe even some hot/ chili sauce.

The big empty jar is our time. We need to learn to prioritise our activities and goals for each day. The most important and urgent are the lemons- you have to do them whether you like them or not, the less urgent but equally important and the urgent but not-so-important things come in between. And you will still find space and time to fit in that extra cool glass of water to relax your mind and soul, and that chili sauce and other seasonings to spice up and bring excitement to your life. As a Muslim, we need to put in more of "the less urgent but equally important" gooseberries (amla). We know that gooseberries taste sour when you eat, but you feel so rewarded when you drink water after that. A Muslim, if he increases his righteous deeds in order to please His Lord, then he is rewarded highly for his struggle and perseverance in fighting his laziness and procrastinating attitude. SubhanAllah

We have the best role models in our beloved Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam, his family, and his Sahabahs and Sahabiyaat. If we look into their biographies even casually, we come across the various roles they had in life, and they managed these roles in a very balanced fashion. They led stress-free lives compared to the life of an average person who has a busy and stressful life, and SubhanAllah, they were the "actual" busy people.

Take the example of Our Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam: we read about him as a Prophet receiving revelations, a father who would calmly advise his daughter, a loving and dutiful husband (that too, to many wives) and even finding to play with them and have races etc, a man who would sit and teach his companions, a warrior of Islam fee sabeelIllah and a devotee of Allah The Almighty who would stand up in Qiyam and Ibadah at night. How did he manage all these roles efficiently?! Isn't it because of the deep understanding about what our purpose in life is?!

If we learn to prioritise things in our life, we wouldn't have problems with time-management. The reason we often feel stressed and overwhelmed, is due to the dissatisfaction we feel within ourselves for not having accomplished enough, utilising our potentials to the maximum. One of the reasons that one feels in the dumps or bored with his life is also this. People often complain that their life is monotonous. We have to remember that it is ourselves who make our lives the way it is; monotonous because we make it that way, eventful and interesting because we make it that way! We have no right to blame it on anybody else or our fate. Allah SWT has blessed us with a lot of potential, and we don't even use half of it to please Him and serve His Dheen. This should be our inspiration, our urgency to fit in more and more gooseberries into our time, and hence, our life. We have to make use of our health before sickness, our intelligence at its peak before it gets rusty and our time before our death.

We have to reflect upon the lives of great scholars and the beloved companions of Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam- The Torch Bearers of Islam. We will also notice that age should not be a factor to do things. Be it young or old, or our prime years. We have the examples from the past and from today, of people whose stories inspire us. When you procrastinate, bring into your visual mind their images and try to picture yourself there. Think of how you want to lead your life now, and think of what you want to leave in this world when you die. And most of all, think of what you want to carry with you to stand before Allah Azza Wajal tomorrow. We have to seize the moment, before something happens and regret strikes us.

Let's all rise and shine and show off in front of Allah Subhanahu watha'ala!
Disclaimer: This is to motivate me first and then you. I am sure I need it more than you!