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Time Management – Your Key to Productivity

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Some Productivity and time management are two concepts we hear a lot about these days in a fast paced world and the pressures we all face. I have been training people on this subject for the last eleven years and have literally met thousands of people facing productivity and time management challenges.

 

In order to learn how to manage our time and increase productivity, we first need to understand what time management really is. Time management is not about managing your time in the literal sense of the word; it is simply an education in making the best use of the time you do have. So, how exactly do you do that?

 

There are 3 steps that I suggest you start with.

 

1.Analyze Your Daily Schedule

Start by maintaining a log of your time and its use for at least one week. Write down the activity / task (both personal and professional) and time consumed in that. You must write each and every thing that you do during the course of a day. From waking up, taking a shower, brushing your teeth and having breakfast to commuting to work, having lunch, offering prayers and talking to colleagues. Make sure to also include any calls you take at work and the time you spend talking to family after work or to a neighbor or in buying grocery etc.

 

In front of each task, clearly indicate any long-term or short-term vision of your life that this activity took you towards. If you feel that the activity did not take you closer to any worthwhile vision, name it ‘not important’ otherwise label it ‘important’. If you undertake this activity honestly you will be seriously amazed at how much time you’ve wasted in the entire week. But this cannot be the first step towards improvement unless you perform the task scrupulously.

 

Tip: The best way to do this is to keep a scheduler or a diary with you constantly so you can record every task and the time spent in it. 

 

2.Cut Down Unimportant Activities

After a week of time recording you are likely to be hit by the realization that some big chunks of your time are actually going into unimportant activities that you could easily cut down. For instance, do you really need to spend that hour in bed in the morning after Fajr? Wouldn’t it be better to spend that time in a thirty minutes of brisk walk and thirty minutes in the Dhikr of Allah (swt)? Do you really need to spend 2 hours every day mindlessly surfing through TV channels or the Internet? Wouldn’t this time be better invested in more productive activities? How much time do you spend in a day on social websites or their Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp? How much of that time spent is actually productive? Apart from the important messaging, the rest of the time is simply a waste. 

 

I have met numerous people in my workshops who explicitly told me that it had been months since they last recited Quran, often not since last Ramadan. It is indeed a sad state of affairs! Are we really that busy that we don’t even have time for the remembrance of Allah (swt)? So, please don’t cut down any time from the time allotted for Allah (swt). In fact, increase it to get more barakah in the rest of your day. I am saying this because I have found it a common practice in the corporate world that people compromise on Allah’s time to prioritize activities like meetings or working on important reports and projects. Nothing is more important than fard salah and we should not compromise on that either in the name of increasing productivity.

 

3.Restrict Time for Major Chunk Activities

How do you feel when you are working on something important with complete focus and attention and you are suddenly interrupted by a phone call or an email alert or one or more beeps from your Smartphone? I find it extremely annoying. 

 

I remember when I started my professional career eighteen years ago people hardly had mobile phones in their hands. Today phones are a rage and most of us constantly carry a Smartphone in our hands containing hundreds of Apps. But the question is, what is the impact of this on our productivity and effectiveness?

 

According to my observation of the last few years as the use of Smartphone has increased, the general productivity decreases. This is mainly because of the distraction it creates every now and then. The original concept of Smartphone was to make people ‘smarter’ in terms of productivity and effectiveness. However, with the later flood of Apps and increased use of social media sites, the actual purpose of these devices has dwindled. Is this really an age of Smartphones and Stupidpeople? Not unless we ‘tame’ the Smartphone. Technology is not entirely at fault here; it is because people no longer have a structured approach to manage themselves.

 

If you’re keen on focusing on the more important things in life and getting the most out of your day while also possessing Smart devices, I have some suggestions for you:

 

a. Don’t follow the race of Apps. Keep only important Apps in your device and delete the unnecessary ones specially all games.

 

b. Mute all notifications when you’re at the workplace so that you can focus on work. 

 

c. Schedule yourself to see your messages at a specific time in a day. Respond to only urgent ones while at work. Save the rest for later.

 

d. Schedule to check emails twice or maximum thrice a day. Otherwise keep your email program off.

 

e. Restrict time for doing important tasks and make blocks for them in your scheduler. Give these blocks the same importance as you give to catching a flight. Have your mobile phone on flight mode too. This is the only guaranteed way of completing your pending tasks or tasks which require your focus and attention.

 

To gain an added insight into time management, please refer to our Strategic Time Management workshop.

 

 


 


  

 

 

 

In The Last Mughal, William Dalrympl takes on the mammoth task of bringing to light the mutiny of 1857 and the subsequent fall of Delhi, the seat of the Mughal Empire for over three centuries. Through a kaleidoscope meticulously created from The Mutiny Papers, over 20,000 of never before translated Persian and Urdu accounts found in the National Archives of India, Dalrymple brings to light for the first time the actual rationales behind the worst rebellion faced by any colonial power in the 19th century. For a Muslim reader the book is akin to a shattered mirror reflecting hideously distorted images of the lavish mindset and lifestyle of the Delhi-walas and elites and King Zafar and his subjects in the most ‘intellectual city of Hindustan’ before all was annihilated by the fury of the English army.

 

The Last Mughal is a bewitching tale that takes us inside the mind of everyone involved in the fall of Delhi through their actual accounts; the Hindu baniyas, the famous sweetmeat makers, the Delhi newspaper taken out by Maulvi Baqar, Theo and Charles Metcalfe, the British Residents in Delhi, Zafar’s conspiring wives and sons and later, the Hindu informers in Delhi who became the eyes and ears of the British during the siege of the city.

 

The book is nothing short of a Pandora’s box of rude revelations which force us to finally get our facts straight; the Mughal Emperor Zafar, whom conventional history books present as the last great Mughal Emperor of Hindustan who met his fate at the treachery of the British was nothing but a pawn with a farce of an empire which was running at the mercy of the Hindu money lenders. Despite the empty royal coffers the King and his subjects continued to live most regally, insistent on maintaining a burlesque, shoddy empire. Although Babur and later Mughal emperors had earned the  Mughal name and glory, Zafar could not even maintain it let alone retain that glory. 

 

The Last Mughal is neither a tedious historical analysis on the end of the Mughal empire and the final few months of Babur’s last descendent Bahadur Shah Zafar nor is it a biography of Zafar himself. It is a brilliantly graphic three dimensional quilt of Delhi, its streets, its life and its people a few months prior to, throughout and after the siege that left this last Muslim nerve center of culture, learning and class in the Indian subcontinent in utter, absolute ruin, its streets in smoking desolation, its residents butchered mercilessly, its architecture razed to the ground, its poets and writers hanged and its King exiled to Burma.

 

Contrary to popular notion, gained from the mostly British accounts of the incident, the mutiny was not simply a rebellion of a couple of hundred soldiers over the grease used on gun cartridges. On the Hindu and Muslim side, the rebellion took root from the fear of being tyrannized by a fast spreading Christian orthodoxy. For the British, the mutiny was the reason they needed to stamp out forever the mere idea of Mughal rule in India. For even though the Mughal empire existed only in name, the British knew that even this name had to be eradicated from the minds of the population forever if they themselves were to rule India. The only thing standing in the way of the ultimate British stronghold in India was the city of Delhi, still the heart of the Mughal rule in India and the last bastion of a regal, courtly culture that was never again seen in India after the mutiny. 

 

Delhi was at the time home to some of the greatest poets of the Urdu language, including Ghalib, Azurda, Zauq and Zafar himself. It was the nest of the most gifted artisans, calligraphers, writers, intellectuals, sweetmeat makers and nobility that could trace its roots hundreds of centuries back. Zafar himself was an old and frail man with little to boast in the name of actual power, for it had all been gradually stripped away by the slithering British tentacles of the East India Company. If there was one thing that the old, often senile King could be credited with was keeping the delicate but abiding peace between the Hindus and the Muslims. This was primarily because though a direct Mughal descendant of Genghis Khan from the maternal and Tamerlane from the paternal side and a ruling member of the House of Timur, Babur being the first emperor in the line, Zafar boasted a Hindu mother. 

 

It was therefore the mere impression of Zafar being the Supreme Ruler of Hindustan that the British had to vanquish. It was this public perception and impression of Delhi being the seat of the Empire that drew the first batch of the mutineers directly here to ask the emperor’s blessing for a rebellion that he knew nothing about. Zafar was content to be at peace with the British and continue his pleasurable life within the walls of his cultured city where he spent his evenings in his well maintained gardens under poetic moonlight, getting olive oil rubbed on his feet, listening to singing and watching dances, while eating mangoes. As we read on we are forced to admit that the last Muslim King in India was the classic  historical epitome of the ostrich that has its head so far in the sand that it could be seen coming out the other end of the earth. 

 

The arrival of the dirty and discourteous rebels was nothing but a rude disruption to the peace, serenity and beauty of Delhi to not only Zafar and his court but also to the rest of the Delhi-walas. To our dismal knowledge, we discover how profoundly the Delhi gentry and regulars were intoxicated with their regal yet barren pretences of royalty and enthralled with false illusions of supremacy. In reality, Zafar was taken by surprise at the events that suddenly unfolded. He may have been a great poet and mystic, but he was a weak and indecisive ruler whose impulsive decision to back the rebels brought an end not only to the Mughal rule in India but to his entire line of descendents; fourteen of his sixteen sons were massacred by the British and the Mughals were wiped out forever. His himself died a lonely sick death exiled in Rangoon far from his beloved Delhi in a nameless grave forever lost to time. 

 

The mutiny was certainly not a plan of the British. For if it had, the hundreds of British men, women and children within the city of Delhi following the outbreak of the rebellion on May 10, 1857 would not have been massacred so brutally. But it definitely cemented the reason the British needed to unleash a ten times worse retribution upon a city that had continually resisted homogenization with the British who had been in India since 1608. This was unlike the other major cities like Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. 

 

When the British finally entered the city, the orders were to shoot everyone in sight. Later, gallows were constructed to publically hang every single resident of Delhi. Even those taking refuge in the jungles and villages around Delhi, scavenging for scraps to survive on were dragged back and hung publically. In the words of Edward Vibart, a nineteen year old British officer, ‘It was literally murder…I have seen many bloody and awful sights lately but such a one as I witnessed yesterday [day the British entered Delhi] I pray I never see again…’

 

Probably the worst misfortune of the entire 1857 fiasco was that the Indians were very close to achieving victory over the British, driving them back from their encampment on the Ridge, a small mountainous extension outside the besieged city. What led to their unknowing but almost deliberate abysmal doom, as now revealed, was nothing but their appalling indiscipline, atrociously defective military tactics, total lack of consensus in selecting and following one commander and their absolute detachment with the critical ground reality. As his city swelled with more and more rebels arriving from all corners of India, Zafar was more distraught over the havoc they were creating in his dreamy courts and gardens than the serious implications of a potential British victory. 

 

If the residents of Delhi were facing severe food shortages and utter disruption of civic facilities, the British soldiers on the ridge were facing worse challenges. Despite all odds, they tenaciously clung to their discipline and it was discipline more than anything else that won them the prize of Delhi. Ghalib, one of the handful of Delhi-walas who managed to survive the gallows, paints a heart wrecking picture after the British vengeance, ‘The male descendents of the deposed King—such as survived the sword—draw allowances of five rupees a month. The female descendents if old are bawds, and if young prostitutes. The city has become a desert…by God Delhi is no more a city, but a camp, a cantonment. No fort, no city, no bazaars, no water courses…..yes [it is said] there was once a city of that name in the realms of India…’

 

This was the same city about which the poet Mir said, ‘In this beautiful city, the streets are not mere streets, they are like the album of a painter.’ Another poet of wrote, ‘the streets are not streets, they are like the albums of a painter’. According to the young Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan, ‘The water of Delhi is sweet to the taste, the air is excellent, and there are hardly any diseases. By God’s grace the inhabitants are fair and good looking and in their youth uniquely attractive. Nobody from any other city can measure up to them…In particular the men of the city are interested in learning and in cultivating the arts, spending their days and nights reading and writing.’

 

In short, The Last Mughal is not just a tragic tale from the pages of history, it is a lesson for nations who forget their glorious past and believe that they can continue to bank effortlessly on their social and cultural inheritances. The fall of Delhi was not only the complete obliteration of the Mughals from the soil of India, it was the foundation stone of formal British rule in the country. On the bookshelf of any other history buff in the world, The Last Mughal will just be a splendid historical reference but for a Muslim reader it is an imperative must-read of how a centuries old empire became the dust of India simply through indulgence in opulence, grandeur and leisure of the mind and soul. 

 

 


Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer/editor settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA. Her published credits as writer and web content developer include well over 2,000 articles in both American and Pakistani publications. Her notable work is the translation of Harun Yahya's epic Atlas of Creation-Vol 1 and Evolution Deceit. Sister Irum will be writing the Book Review for Envision every month. She offers editing, content and ebook creation, and book translation and representation through her company Wordlenders. 


 

    


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