Time And Stress Management Techniques
Allah’s swearing by time:
Swearing by time in several Qur’anic Ayah is taken as an indication of its significance. For instance:
- By time. Verily Man is in loss. ( Sura Al-Asr 1-2)
- By the night, when it covers (the sun and the day). By the day, when it becomes bright. (Sura Al-layal-1-2).
- By the night when it withdraws. And the dawn when it shines forth. (Sura Al Muddathir 33-34).
- It is agreed among Qurán specialists, and it is understood by Muslims in general, that when Allah swears by anything in His Kingdom, He is attracting their attention to it and pointing out its benefit and significance.
- Prophet Mohammad(SW) says, “On the day of resurrection, the feet of man will not move away till he is questioned about four matters; how he spent his lifetime, how he spent his youth, from where he acquired his wealth and how he spent it and what he did with his knowledge.
In this hadith, time is portrayed as one unit. Peoples are, therefore, called upon to make good use of it in general, and at the productive stage of youth in particular. This is reflected in the prophet’s saying, ‘Grab five things before five others; your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your wealth before your poverty, your leisure before your work and your life before your death.
WHAT IS TIME?
Time is something we deal with every day, and something that everyone thinks they understand. However, a compact and robust definition of time has proved to be remarkably tricky and indefinable.
- Time, it seems, is constant.
- Time is what we measure in minutes, hours, days, and years.
- “Time is that which clocks measure” -Albert Einstein.
- The angels and the Jibrael will ascend to Him during a Day the extent of which is fifty thousand years. [Surah-Maa’rij:4]
- As per Webster’s New World College Dictionary; time is ‘’the specific, usual or allotted period during which something is done’’.
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT TIMES NATURE
Time exists and is needed for things to move.
- Time exists and constantly passes or flows in a successive forward movement in accordance with a uniquely controlled system
- Time flows in one fixed direction – from the future to the past.
- The past exists and steadily accumulates.
- We can see but not change the past.
- The present exists, and is a ‘thin slice’ of constantly flowing time.
- The future constantly arrives.
- It cannot be stopped, changed, increased or reconstructed
- The constant forward movement of time is neither fast nor slow, and it cannot be stopped, accumulated, cancelled, altered or replaced.
- It is an identifiable resource equally available to all. Even though people are not born with equal capabilities or equal opportunities, they all have the same twenty four hours daily and the same fifty two weeks yearly.
- Therefore, the problem of time is not one of amount, but of how to manage and utilize that amount.
What is Time Management?
- Time cannot be bought, sold, rented, borrowed, doubled, saved or manufactured.
- But it can be invested and valued.
- For instance, those who have the time to accomplish their work and time to enjoy their activities must have learned the difference between quantity and quality. They must be investing every minute of their time.
- Therefore, Time management does not aim at changing, modifying or developing time, but at how to invest it so effectively that time spent uselessly or unproductively is reduced to a minimum, while attempting to raise productivity within the allocated period of time.
- According to Drucker, “Time Management means the management of self”.
- Drucker further remarked that, “Efficient Managers do not start straight performing their tasks, but they first look into their time. They do not start straight with planning, but they first investigate on what to spend their time. Besides, they do their best to minimize useless activities, which drain their time”.
- Time Management is to utilize the available time in optimum manner to achieve one’s personal and professional goals.
- TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS
TIP (I): SETTING PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL GOALS AND PLANS:
- What do you really want?
- Goals for life, next 5 years, this year, this month, this week , today.
- Write them down and look at them periodically.
- Failing to plan is planning to fail.
- You can always change your plans later but only if you HAVE them!
TIP (II): WORK IN SMALL CHUNKS
Don’t try to get something done in one sitting, especially if it takes a lot of time. Split it up into smaller chunks so that it is done by the deadline without affecting your other tasks.
Example: You have an assignment due on 15 May. Split up your work into one hour daily chunks of research, drafting, writing, referencing and editing so that it is done on time without seeming like a burden.
TIP (III): DISCIPLINE IS KEY!
- To be successful in anything in both worlds, self-discipline is necessary. This applies to time management as well. One needs to be very strict on oneself to stick to times, stick to schedules and not get unfocussed from priorities.
- It takes discipline to make schedules, checklists, etc. and even more discipline to stick to these schedules. It takes discipline to ignore distractions and avoid unnecessary phone conversations. This is a habit all need to develop.
TIP (IV): ELIMINATE TIME WASTERS!
- For people who don’t constantly monitor their days, a lot of time is wasted in useless activities. A simple step to avoiding time wasters is to keep a log for a few days of everything you do in a day. You will be surprised at how much time is wasted in useless activities that do not benefit you in this world or the next.
TIP (IV): ELIMINATE TIME WASTERS!
- By cutting down our time wasters to just the necessary means of relaxation and fun, we can free up a few more hours in the day for other beneficial projects.
- Fear to delegate
- Not wanting to say ‘No’
- Not Knowing the priorities
- Telephone calls
- Unexpected visitors
- Needless Report/ Junk mail/ Browsing
- Meeting without agenda
- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
- Television and Video Games, Oversleeping
TIP (IV): ELIMINATE TIME WASTERS!
- By cutting down the above to just the necessary amount you need to function properly in a day (6-8 hours sleep, 2-3 hours of fun), we are able to free time for things which matter.
- “Successful are the believers…those who stay away from lughw(vain talk)” (Surah Mu’minoon 23:1 & 3)
TIP (V): QUICK IN-TRAY TIME SAVER
Plan to do it
TIP (VI): USE YOUR WAITING TIME
- On transportation
- At the doctor’s chamber
- When you are early for an appointment.
TIP (VII): MAKE A SCHEDULE
- I prefer a weekly schedule to a daily one as it gives you more time to schedule more things and allows for planning in advance.
- Stephen Covey says about weekly schedules, “Organizing on a weekly basis provides much greater balance and context than daily planning…Business, education and many other sides of society operate within the framework of the week, designating certain days for focused investment and others for relaxation or inspiration.”
TIP (VIII): PLAN YOUR DAY AROUND ṢALĀH
Some Muslims make the mistake of trying to fit Ṣalāh into their daily schedule and complain that they can’t find the time to pray.
The mistake is two-fold:
- Trying to find time, instead of making time
- Fitting Ṣalāh into your schedule, instead of planning your schedule around Ṣalāh
As Muslims, Ṣalāh should be our highest priority in the day and as such, when making our timetable/schedule, the first thing we need to fill in are the Ṣalāh times so that nothing else clashes with it. In fact, fill in the Ṣalāh times in RED and BOLD writing so that you know that those times are off-limits to anything else.
TIP (IX): LEARN TO SAY NO!
- Think about what are the biggest time wasters.
- The only way to avoid this is to learn to decline such offers…politely of course.
- I’m not saying don’t phone people or visit them but if a phone call is going on too long and is cutting into your work time, there is nothing wrong with excusing yourself and saying you need to get back to work. Do this often and people will get the message and will only contact you when necessary or when they know you have time to chat.
- Declining offers for long chats and useless conversations not only will help you stick to a schedule and accomplish more but will protect you from sins like backbiting and gossip as well.
TIP (X): BENEFICIAL HOBBIES
- We all have that time of the day and that day of the week (and that month of the year sometimes) in which we are tired, don’t want to do any work and just want to have fun. There is nothing wrong with this as long as the means of fun is halal and you do not go into excess.
- However, even better is if we establish hobbies which are both productive and fun! This could be a physical sport, reading, watching beneficial videos, the list of beneficial hobbies can go on and on.
- Inshā’Allāh if we establish beneficial hobbies, then even our fun time becomes productive and is not wasted!
Stress, in everyday terms, is a feeling that people have when they are overloaded and struggling to cope with demands.
These demands can be related to finances, work, relationships, and other situations, but anything that poses a real or perceived challenge or threat to a person’s well-being can cause stress.
Stress can be a motivator. It can be essential to survival.
- FAST FACTS ON STRESS:
- Stress helps the body prepare to face danger.
- The symptoms can be both physical and psychological.
- Short-term stress can be helpful, but long-term stress is linked to various health conditions.
- We can prepare for stress by learning some self-management tips.
- CAUSES OF STRESS:
Common major life events that can activate stress include:
- job issues or retirement
- lack of time or money
- family problems
- moving home
- relationships, marriage and divorce.
- SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STRESS OVERLOAD
The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar – even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload:
- Intellectual symptoms
- Emotional symptoms
- Physical symptoms
- Behavioral symptoms
a) Intellectual Symptoms:
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
b) Emotional Symptoms:
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Anxiety and agitation
- Moodiness, irritability, or anger
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Loneliness and isolation
- Other mental or emotional health problems
c) Physical Symptoms:
- Headaches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Vomiting, shakiness
- Chest pain, rapid heart rate
- Frequent colds or flu
d) Behavioral Symptoms:
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawing from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
- SOME TIPS TO MANAGE STRESS:
a) Be content with what you have.
- Most of us are not satisfied with what we have. You might be stressed about not getting that promotion, or unsatisfied with your job/salary, or tensed with your children etc. Remember that there are people dealing with harder situations that yourself; some are homeless, jobless, or without children.
- In worldly matters, look to those below you to be humbled (looking above you generates jealousy and ungratefulness), while in religious matters look to those above you to get inspired to reach a higher level of taqwa.
- You must always be thankful for what Allah granted you. You might think that what you want is better for you but He knows what is truly best for you. Allah might be giving you what you need or He may be testing your iman so that you may call upon Him and increase in piety. The path you are on is the right one for you, even if you cannot see that right now.
- Stress cannot solve your problems, but it only causes more, especially to your health and social life. So, be happy with what you have, be patient, try to do your best and ask Allah for guidance.
- Allah said: “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” [Sura Baqarah, Verse 152]
- In reality, it is difficult to avoid all sources of stress as we encounter a innumerable of situations on a daily basis, but do not let stress control your life. Try to make a little time everyday for your health and well-being, as they are blessings from Allah
B) ASK HIM. HE LISTENS: DU`A .
- Turn each anxiety, each fear and each concern into a Dua (supplication). Look at it as another reason to submit to God and be in Sajdah (prostration), during which you are closest to Allah. God listens and already knows what is in your heart, but He wants you to ask Him for what you want.
- “Call on your Lord with humbleness and in private: for Allah loveth not those who trespass beyond bounds. Do not make mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear. And longing (in your hearts): for the mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good” (Sura Al-Araf:55-56).
C) TIE YOUR CAMEL: DO YOUR PART.
- One day Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (Tirmidhi).
- You must never become fatalistic. Although we know only Allah is in control and that He has decreed all things, we are each responsible for making the right choices and doing the right thing in all situations of our lives. We must take action . We must work to alleviate the hardships we, our families and our friends face.
- “Verily Allah does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves” (Sura Al-Araf: 11).
Turn each worry into a Du`a and each Du`a into an action plan. That will show your commitment to your request and will focus your energy in the right direction.
Following are the 4 (four) things to deal with stress:
Avoid unnecessary causes of STRESS
- Stay away from stress-inducing people
- Plan things out ahead of time
- Reduce the demands on yourself
ALTER THE STRESSFUL SITUATION
- Apply assertive communication
- Master effective time management
- Learn how to compromise
iii. ADAPT OF THE STRESSOR
- Resist perfectionism
- Accentuate the positive
- Adjust your attitude
ACCEPT THE UNCHANGEABLE
- Talk to supportive family and friends
- Try to find the upside
D) REMEMBER THAT HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY IS LIMITED.
- While we need to carry out our duty to the best of our abilities, always remember that you don’t control the outcome of events. Even the Prophets did not control the outcome of their efforts. Some were successful, others were not. Once you have done your duty, leave the results to Allah. Regardless of the results of your efforts, you will be rewarded for the part you have played.
- However, never underestimate your abilities. Understand the concept of Barakah (blessings from Allah) and remember that Allah can and Insha Allah will expand them if you are sincerely exerting your energies for the right path.
E) LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND YOU FIVE TIMES A DAY.
- Use the five daily prayers as a means to become more Hereafter-oriented and less attached to this temporary world. Start distancing yourself as soon as you hear Adhan, the call to prayer. When you perform Wudu, keep repeating Shahada, the declaration of faith, as water drops slip down your face, hands, arms, and hair. When you stand ready to pray, mentally prepare yourself to leave this world and all of its worries and stresses behind you.
- Of course, Shaytan will try to distract you during prayer. But whenever this happens, go back and remember Allah. The more you return, the more Allah will reward you for it.
F) SEEK HELP THROUGH SABR.
- Seek help through Sabr and Salat (Quran 2:45).
- This instruction from Allah provides us with two critical tools that can ease our worries and pain. Patience and prayer are two oft-neglected stress busters.
- Being patient gives us control in situations where we feel we have little or no control. ‘We cannot control what happens to us but we can control our reaction to our circumstances’ is the mantra of many modern-day self-help books. Patience helps us keep our mind and attitude towards our difficulties in check.
G) EXCUSE ME! YOU ARE NOT RUNNING THE WORLD, HE IS.
- We don’t control all the variables in the world. God does. He is the Wise, the All-Knowing. Sometimes our limited human faculties are not able to comprehend His wisdom behind what happens to us and to others, but knowing that He is in control and that as human beings we submit to His Will, enriches our humanity and enhances our obedience .
- “God-there is no deity save Him, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent Fount of All being. Neither slumber overtakes Him, nor sleep. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. Who is there that could intercede with Him, unless it be by His leave? He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them, whereas they cannot attain to aught of His knowledge save that which He wills them to attain. His eternal power overspreads the heavens and the earth, and their upholding wearies Him not. And He alone is truly exalted, tremendous.” (Quran 2:255).
- The Prophet recommended reading this verse, known as Ayat al kursi, after each prayer, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. Once Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, approached the Prophet during a difficult time and he found the Prophet in Sajda, where he kept repeating “Ya Hayy Ya Qayyum”, words which are part of this verse.
h) Birds Don’t Carry their Food.
- Allah is al Razzaq (the Provider).
- “How many are the creatures that carry not their own nutrition? It is Allah Who feeds them and you, for He hears and knows all things (Sura Al Ankabut:60).”
H) BIRDS DON’T CARRY THEIR FOOD.
- By reminding yourself that He is the Provider, you will remember that getting a job or providing for your family in these challenging times, is in God’s Hands, not yours. As Allah says in the Quran:
“And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Sura At talaq:3).
I) GOD CONTROLS LIFE AND DEATH.
- If you fear for your physical safety and security, remember that only Allah gives life and takes it back and, that He has appointed the time for it. No one can harm you except if Allah wills. As He says in the Quran:
“Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high!” (Surs An Nisa:78).
J) REMEMBER THAT LIFE IS SHORT.
- It’s easy to get caught up in our own stress and anxiety. However, if we remember that our life is short and temporary, and that the everlasting life is in the Hereafter, this will put our worries in perspective.
- This belief in the transitory nature of the life of this world reminds us that whatever difficulties, trials, anxieties, and grief we suffer in this world are, Insha Allah, something we will only experience for a short period of time. And more importantly, if we handle these tests with patience, Allah will reward us for it.
K) RELYING ON ALLAH: ‘TAWAKKUL’.
- When you awaken in the morning, thank Allah for giving you life after that short death called sleep. When you step out of your home, say ‘in Your Name Allah, I put my trust in Allah, and there is no power or force except with Allah’ (Bismillahi Tawakal to al Allah wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah). At night, remember Allah, with His praises on your lips.
- Once you have established a plan you intend to follow through on to deal with a specific issue or problem in your life, put your trust in the most Wise and the All-Knowing.
- “When you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah” (Quran 3: 159).
- Rely on Allah by constantly remembering Him throughout your day. When you
- lay down to sleep, remember that sleep is death. That is why one of the recommended supplications before going to sleep is “with Your (Allah’s) Name I die and become alive”.
L) CONNECT WITH OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.
- You are not alone. We are not suffering in silence. There are millions of good people who are with beautiful hearts and minds. We must think of them, talk to them, connect with them, and pray for them. Through our connections, we will break the chain of isolation that leads to depression and anxiety.
M) IDEALS: ONE STEP AT A TIME.
- Ideals are wonderful things to pursue. But do that gradually. Think, prioritize, plan, and move forward. One step at a time.
N) EFFORTS NOT RESULTS COUNT IN THE EYES OF ALLAH.
- Our success depends on our sincere efforts to the best of our abilities. It is the mercy of Allah that He does not demand results, Alhamdulillah. He is happy if He finds us making our best sincere effort. Thank you Allah!
Contributor: Md. Towhid Hossain
SVP, IRMD, HO, SIBL