If there were ever times when I felt like I deserved a slap on the face, it would be the two times this semester when I was panicking to turn in my assignments one minute before the deadline. And in one of these instances, just as I had thought that I had beaten the clock, I was proven wrong.
A Muslimah’s Guide to Being Productive
I received an email from my professor, telling me that I had submitted the wrong assignment. Although I replied immediately with the correct paper attached, she still considered it to be a late submission and deducted my score. It left me wondering why I had waited till the day of the deadline to rush through the paper when the assignment prompt was given two to three weeks in advance. And what else could the answer be if not procrastination.
Although I trust that many would not go to the extreme of doing something right before it is supposed to be done like I did, I am sure that most if not all of us here have fallen victim to the allure of procrastination. For one reason or another, it’s common to find ourselves putting off the work we need to get done. In place of that, perhaps we watch a little bit of Netflix, read a couple of Buzzfeed articles, or clean our room. While it is of course not wrong to find pleasure in doing these things, it becomes a problem when we these activities distract us from being productive. How then do can we combat this problem? Perhaps this 5 tips can help you, just as they have helped me.
- Set your intentions
As Muslims, we should carry out our actions with the intent of seeking Allah’s pleasure. Sometimes we are given arduous tasks which appear uninviting. Given a choice between forcing myself through another chapter of Thermodynamics and binge-watching Australia’s Next Top Model, I would in most circumstances choose the first option. However, in situations like this, I oftentimes find it easier to resist the lure of procrastination when I intend to be productive for the sake of Allah. I somehow find the process to be smooth-sailing after saying a simple Bismillah before I begin. And once I get into the swing of things, I feel like I can truly tell Australia’s Next Top Model that it can wait. Perhaps it would help you too to remember every effort at being productive will be rewarded in one way or another, InsyaAllah!
- Plan, plan, plan
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Ask Joe Flizzow the best advice that he’s received from his former Too Phat member, Malique, and he might just say, “Gagal merancang, merancang kegagalan.” Indeed, if we fail to plan, we are planning to fail. And my most unproductive days when I do nothing but laze around (while internally thinking and worrying about my workload) are days when I failed to organise my time well. When I have a lot of things to do, I’ve found that it is best to plan my days around prayer times. It helps me to keep track of the time, just to ensure that I’ve not been spending too much of it on one task, and also provides points of references for well-deserved breaks.
- Put your phone away when you’re doing work
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I won’t hesitate to echo all the great things that technology has done for us, like allowing us to be contactable anytime, anywhere. And this, I think, is also its pitfall when it comes to the issue of the lack of productivity. As I am typing now, I can see my phone in my peripheral vision, begging to be checked for messages, notifications and other things which can be put aside for the time being. I’ve just dropped it into my bag, out of sight for now, and I already feel at least a little less distracted from completing this paragraph J
- Take a breather every once in a while
Our brains and bodies have their limits, and it is important to respect that. Just as Justin Bieber has told us to love ourselves, taking short breaks – walking around, chatting with a friend, drinking a cup of coffee – in the midst of doing our work can help us to recuperate and re-energise. I’ve been told to work for intervals of 20 minutes, and take 5-minute breaks between each period. A friend of mine advised to work for 2 hours, before taking 15 minute breaks. But I’ve found that I work best in spurts of 45 minutes to 1 hour, with twenty minute breaks in between. Your optimal working style could be different, so my advice would be to experiment and find the best style for you J
- Discipline is key
Good intentions and planning will not work if we don’t. Discipline is key in being productive. Sometimes, we just have to force ourselves to do things especially when we don’t feel like doing it. Being disciplined reaps long-term effects when we find that instead of rushing things at the last minute, we can leisurely watch all ten seasons of Friends. In the words of a friend, “If you do it now, you’ll thank yourself later.”