Procrastination is the big daddy of productivity busters and seems to spare no one from its deadly clutches. It is something that we as humans fall for subconsciously at one time or the other.
As a child I was always told by my beloved mother not to delay what is to be done to a later time as it is something that stems from carelessness and laziness. Procrastination is a habit that is difficult to shake off once developed.
I was always told:
‘Tomorrow’s work do today, today’s work now and now’s work immediately.’
In hindsight, I understand that it was and is one of the most valuable pieces of advice one could ever receive. Procrastination creates obstacles for you in every walk of life no matter what you are doing: be it studies, work, your religion or any other task at hand. If not dealt with early and effectively, procrastination becomes a way of life and keeps haunting you till you have no time left to do all the things you had or wanted to. Allah (Exalted be He) says in the Qur’an:
Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: “My Lord! Send me back so that I may do good in that which I have left behind. (Al-Mu’minun 23:99, 100)
With the precious month of Ramadan just round the corner, we must get serious about beating procrastination if we want to take full advantage of all the bumper rewards that Ramadan is packed with! Give yourself an immensely rewarding challenge: make the intention to beat procrastination before Ramadan, and resolve to start implementing these steps to beat procrastination from today:
1- The Anti-Procrastination Du`a’
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gifted us a beautiful, comprehensive du`a’ to ward off all kinds of mental stress and obstacles that prevent us from reaching our full potential in our spiritual and worldly lives. Memorize this brilliant du`a’, make it once or more times a day and immediately notice the difference in your productivity:
“O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.” (Al-Bukhari)
2- Sleep Early
All high achievers, beginning with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself share one quality: going to bed early. Ramadan is a period where a Muslim must strive to be at his productive best.
Start training yourself for Ramadan by going to bed early and practice waking up for Fajr so that you face less difficulty waking up when the holy month arrives. Fajr is a basic practice that we all need to adhere to throughout our daily lives but let us face it: how many of us do really wake up for Fajr?
Making sleeping early a habit will ensure we wake up for Fajr, and will also ensure that we can wake up easily to have sahur (pre-dawn meal) and fulfill a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet.
3- Start Practicing
Make a list of your shortcomings when it comes to your deen (religion) and start fixing them before Ramadan. Make a habit chart to get rid of negative habits and incorporate productive habits and deeds into your routine. Maybe there is a prayer that you are missing and need to start making a habit of praying, or that you need to stop wasting time online.
Let’s not wait to start taking action when Ramadan begins, because it takes several days if not weeks to get used to the new routine. Such procrastination will make you lose many rewards. As a bare minimum, start by identifying your shortcomings and the steps you need to take to overcome them.
4- Set a Schedule
Ramadan is an extremely precious gift from Allah (glorified and exalted be He) to us but it comes with a time limit of just 30 days. Knowing the true value of this month and not making a Ramadan schedule is equivalent to losing out an opportunity that you may not get again in your life. Make sure you schedule all the necessary acts of worship including reading your salah on time, recitation of the Qur’an, praying Tarawih, Tahajjud and extra supererogatory prayers.
Also schedule your work, studies and other necessities of life but keep only those that are absolutely necessary, so you don’t lose out on the opportunity to maximize your worship. Make sure you stick to and follow your schedule to be at your productive best.
Read your salah immediately after you hear the adhan (call to Prayer). More often than not, we delay our prayers without any reason, and especially in Ramadan when we are feeling hungry, thirsty, tired and sleepy. We become groggy and delay our salah until we fall asleep or are not able to muster the courage to fight our lack of energy, resulting in lost reward. The easiest way to avoid missing salah or reducing its reward is to pray as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure that you are relaxed and at peace with yourself.
6- Qur’an Recitation
Reading the Qur’an gives us the dose of daily guidance and productivity boost that we cannot do without, even for a day. Do not let procrastination make you lose out on the divine direction and spiritual energy that you need as a human being to live your life meaningfully. If you’ve set a target to finish reading the entire Qur’an, do not put off your portion for the day. Trust me; I have experience in delaying reading my portion of the Qur’an every day, and at the end I’ve accumulated so much that it’s just impossible for me to reach my target of completing the Qur’an.
It is even more important to read as much Qur’an as possible in Ramadan. The Qur’an is divided into 30 juz’ (parts): you can complete one juz’ a day by reading 4 pages of the Qur’an after every salah daily, which means you can finish reading the Qur’an in Ramadan, In sha Allah! If Arabic is not something you know, it would be even better to read it with translation and tafseer (exegesis, commentary). Understanding what you are reading has a profound effect on us and makes us act according to it.
7- You’ve Got to Do What You’ve Got to Do
Always keep in mind that you must do what you have to do at all costs, even if you do not like to do it. There are things that need to be done and missions that need to be accomplished. Leaving things for later will not make your responsibilities go away. Whatever obligations we have – whether religious, work or family-related – it is better to do them with all your heart than to delay them and do them in half-hearted haste with barely any concentration.
Above all, remember that all this effort at doing things on time and being productive is not for anyone else but for our own benefit in this world and the world hereafter. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:
And those who shall strive for Our sake, We shall surely guide them unto Our ways. (Al-`Ankabut 29:69)
May Allah guide us to the right path and enable us to fulfill our responsibilities with dignity, honor and grace.