Procrastination Nation, Author: Issa Abbasi


How do you eat an elephant?

One piece at a time.

Let’s face it, we are an ummah (nation) of procrastinators.  How many times do we joke that as Muslims, we’re on MST (Muslim Standard Time) or South Asian or Arab Standard Time?  I wish I could even say that being late or procrastinating was a genetic trait, but I can’t honestly make this claim.  So what solution is there to procrastination?  I mean, you can go pick up a self help book to help you overcome procrastination, but are you actually going to read it?

Procrastination as commented by scholars is a learned behavior.  No one is born as a person who puts off tasks.  But once we learn this behavior, it is tough to break the habit.  Some tips on breaking the habit of procrastination include being dynamic in one’s life, having a positive mindset and repeating better behaviors.  One of the most sound pieces of advice I read was to start one’s work after Fajr for the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) supplicated that his ummah in their early morning endeavors. 

Another helpful tool for us against sloth is du’a.  Allah s.w.t. tells us that if we supplicate to him he will listen and bring the answer to our supplication, so why not give this du’a a try when you’re feeling lazy?

Allahumma innee a`dhu bika mina al-‘ajzi wa al-kasal wa al-jubun wa al-bukhl wa ghalabati al-dayni wa qahri al-rrijaal
(O Allah, I seek refuge in You from helplessness, sloth, cowardice, niggardliness, and burden of debts and domineering men.)

Normally after all of this, I would say you should be alright, but we still need practical tips we can practice daily (you can make that du’a daily and multiple times a day though).  I picked up a book called Eat that Frog a few years ago and found it has 21 practical tips on over coming procrastination.  I recommend it as a good purchase if you seriously have issues with procrastination, but for now, I will give you a few of the tips outlined by author Brian Tracy.

1. Set the Table: What do you want to accomplish in life? This is a big question, so break it down into three categories: What are my short term goals (1-2 years)? Midterm goals (3-5 years)? Long term goals (6-10 years)?

2. Plan Every Day in Advance: Again, “How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time.”

Break down your goals (short, medium and long term) into sizeable pieces.  If you want to become a hafidh, don’t say you’ll finish a juzu’ a month, rather, do your best to memorize 2-3 ayahs a day or 3 lines a day.  Even the Nabi s.w.s. said the best of deeds are those that are small and consistent!  So again, with any project, make a list of every step that needs to be done from start to finish.

3. Apply the “Pareto Principle” or 80/20 rule to everything. The Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, believed that the top 20 percent of people in terms of money and influence drove society while the 80 % of society was at the bottom.  IBM in its early years found that if it focused its efforts on fixing the top errors in its products, 80 % of their inquiries would be solved!  Focus your efforts on the top major tasks you have in front of you and do not fall into the trap of doing the smaller tasks that are easier first.

4. “Long term thinking improves short term planning.” When you think for the future and not the short term, you also think of your short term consequences for your actions.  As Muslims, we need to always keep in mind our main goal of pleasing our Creator and if we did not keep this in mind, we would “live every day like it was our last” in a bad way.  Non-Muslims consistently fall into this trap, will you?

5. Practice the ABCDE method.  This method is a priority planning method.  Rank your tasks from A to E.  If some are important enough to be “A” tasks, feel free to sub rank them, (i.e. A1, A2), etc.  By doing this, you will discipline yourself to set your priorities and tackle harder tasks first.

These are all practical means to combat this issue of procrastination, but planning and action will inshaAllah soon rid you of this horrible behavior and change your mind set.  No longer will every day feel unproductive, but rather a new opportunity to accomplish more than you ever imagined!

And Allah s.w.t. knows best.

P.S. Ahmad Yousaf is sick and is now back from Ghana. Keep him in your du’a inshaAllah!

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~ by Yousaf on December 4, 2009.

2 Responses to “Procrastination Nation, Author: Issa Abbasi”

  1. SubhanAllah, it’s as if this was posted as a sign for me from Allah! You dont know how much I needed to read this. JAK brother, Salaam.

  2. Great post. JazaakAllahu khairan.

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