Time Management

November 21st, 2019

Don't Get Caught Slippin'

by Seyed Mahdi Ghazvini

In Arabic, the word ‘Asr refers to either an epoch[1] or the late afternoon. What’s interesting though, is that the literal meaning of the term means 'to squeeze.' In essence, what we understand is that time is being squeezed away from us. The understanding that time is scarce is built into the term. This is why time, not money, property, or businesses, is our most valuable asset. It’s constantly evading us.

Think about the common denominator in everything that is dear and valuable to us, both tangible and intangible: family, relationships, careers, wealth, etc. The common denominator that enriches them all is the factor of time and how much of it you invest in them. For instance, both relationship and career satisfaction require a considerable amount of time to be invested in them. The more quality time you invest in a relationship with someone, the more that relationship is dear to you. Quality time creates what no amount of money ever can. You can’t buy your way into a fulfilling relationship or career. Even if you buy a business, you still have to invest time into it for it to be successful.

Where should we invest our time? Let’s talk about three areas: God, family, and work

The great leader and wise man, Imam Ali, said: “Set aside the best of your times for communion with God, although every moment of yours is for Him only[2], provided it is spent sincerely in the service of people.”

In other words, your prime time should be dedicated to God. There’s only so much energy you can expend in a day, and putting off our conversations with God until the last moment when we’re spent could mean putting God last, rather than putting Him first. Don’t get caught up being “busy,” but rather try to stay productive with everything you do.

Family also deserves prime time. With family, it’s easy to justify that we spend a lot of time (quantity) with them, since most of us live with them. But remember, quality time is better than quantity of time.

Before the Industrial Revolution, most time was spent in or near the home. Families raised their own children. 4 out of 5 people in the United States were farmers, working side by side and spending time (both quality and quantity) with close family members. Family values were impressed on children throughout the day. When the Industrial Revolution happened, parents left homes to go to factories and children left homes to be educated in schools to eventually become workers for the system as well. Although productivity increased, precious quality time within families decreased. Thus, values that were passed down from one generation to another were lost. In today’s world, it’s easy to get lost on our devices and with social media when we get back home from work and school. Don’t be tempted to do that! As tired as you may be, spending quality time with your close family members and with people that can strengthen you morally, emotionally, and spiritually is important.

To produce exceptional work, spend time learning your required skill set, building relationships with your team and guests, and furthering your knowledge through personal development so that you’re ready for greater responsibilities and opportunities.

Let’s talk about some suggestions on time management. Ray Dalio, a very successful businessman and author, suggests that we should have a “like to do” list, and a “must do” list. Think about all of the things that you have on your to-do list. If you really think about it, not all of them are a high priority. Since you only have limited time in a day/week/month/year, go after the three things (not more than three) that are a top priority. That way, whatever is important gets done with the time that you have, and whatever does not get done can be postponed, delegated to someone else, or even forgotten about.

Another highly successful investor and philanthropist, Richard Branson, was once offered 100 thousand dollars to give a 90-minute talk at a company. His office refused. He was then offered 250 thousand dollars. His office refused again. He was then offered 500 thousand dollars and a private jet to pick him up and drop him off. His office refused again. When asked why, the company was told that Mr. Branson is working on three strategic objectives, and no matter what offers come in, they would have to be refused if they were not related to him objectives. Talk about prioritizing your time!

Time is limited. Let’s figure out what we need to do, prioritize it, and go for it! Use tools that are available to you, such as the calendar on your phone, to schedule your days. If you can, schedule your day one night in advance, hour by hour, so that you become intentional with your time. Learn to say yes to what will move your relationships, career, and businesses forward, and no to everything else. It’s OK to say no to people and events that don’t move your life forward!

[1] A particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc.

[2] Since He is our Creator and the Creator of time.

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