Everybody has 24 hours in a day, but some people are able to accomplish more in this time than others. When we look at the lives of these people, they all have a stronger awareness and control over their time i.e. they practice time management.
But what is time management anyway?
Time management is simply a strategy or system for using your time more effectively. Any system or strategy that you develop to get more done in a day is effective time management. Over the years, I have developed multiple systems and strategies that help me to manage my time effectively. I have written about these in detail in my best-selling ebook Getting The Barakah.
Today, however, I want to share with you the 7 core skills that I teach in this book.
1. Begin your day at Fajr Time
If you analyze the lives of successful people, you will notice that most of them begin their day early. As Muslims, we know that there is Barakah (Blessings) in the early part of the day, so why not grab that Barakah by starting our days early?
Try this for a week. Wake up every day at Fajr time. After Fajr, recite Quran and engage in some acts of worship. Then exercise, have breakfast and prepare for your day. Finally, get ONE high-concentration task done before everybody else wakes up.
If you keep at this, I guarantee you will find that you will be able to accomplish more in a day than you previously thought possible.
2. Set Your Daily Priorities and Goals
There are different methods and systems of time management. Some use a calendar, while others divide their day into blocks. I prefer a to-do list because it is more flexible and easy to draw up.
The key to a successful to-do list is to draw it up the night before so that you begin your day knowing exactly what you need to get done that day. The list should include daily priorities, personal development tasks, and action items that assist you in working towards your long-term goals. I discuss each of these concepts in more detail in my book.
3. Block off time for High Concentration Tasks
A major time management mistake that a lot of people make is multitasking. Multitasking only works with low concentration tasks, eg: listening to a podcast while exercising. However, trying to multitask when working on a high concentration task will only slow you down and reduce the quality of your work.
Instead of multitasking, block off time (preferably during your peak performance time) for high-concentration tasks. During this time, put aside all distractions and focus intensively on the task at hand. Give the task your undivided attention for 45 minutes to an hour, and it will get done faster with superior results.
I utilize this method daily for writing my blog posts, writing my books, and preparing my classes. It works wonderfully and is a must for anyone who does any work that requires a lot of concentration.
4. Take advantage of delegation and automation
I discuss this in detail in the book, and in even more detail in my newest book Productivity Principles of ʿUmar II. To summarize this concept, anything that can be done by someone else and doesn’t require your personal effort should be delegated to others.
There are essentially two types of tasks that you should delegate, tasks anybody can do and tasks in areas that you do not specialize in. The first could be delegated to anybody competent, the latter should be delegated to experts. Delegation frees up time to get more done every day.
We now have access to something even better than delegation; automation! There are dozens of tasks that can be automated. Take time to figure out what you are doing that can be done by a computer instead, and get those tasks automated!
To learn more about delegation and automation, make sure to read my latest book!
5. Leverage the 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 rule may sound like nonsense at first, but it has proven to be quite accurate. It simply means that a large portion of our results come from a small portion of our effort. Identifying that small portion of effort and doubling down on it helps to get more done faster. This system also helps eliminate tasks from your life that may be simple tasks without any real results.
Take some time to identify what you are doing that doesn’t work, eliminate it! Find out what brings in the best results, and double down on it! This is the best usage of the 80/20 principle in time management.
6. Keep your schedule flexible enough to cater for unexpected problems
No matter how well you manage your time, life will happen. You will need to be flexible so you can make time for all the unexpected tasks that pop up in a day. This is why I recommend scheduling six hours of set tasks in an eight-hour workday, so you have two hours to handle anything else that pops up during the day that you weren’t prepared for.
Do not make the mistake of being so unflexible in your time management that you are unable to get things done when life happens. Because life will happen, so its best to prepare and leave some time for it.
7. Learn to say No!
Finally, learn to say no! It is one of the most skills you can learn. Sometimes, we try too hard to please everybody and end up taking on too many extra projects. In doing so, we do justice to none of them and end up overworked. A simple polite no is far better than a poorly done project.
Practice saying no to tasks and projects that you can’t handle, or which you feel are a waste of time. Practice polite ways of saying no so that you do not offend anybody. Once you get good at saying no, you will find yourself with a lot more time to work on the things that really matter!
Ready to take your time management to the next level? Grab a copy of Getting The Barakah and get started today!