How do we Deal with Procrastination?
Procrastination can simply be translated as something like ‘a bad habit’ which also can lead to sinful events. It essentially stops us from achieving whatever we set out to achieve. Islam is a religion who promotes the concept of faith and hope. Sometimes we become lazy and hopeless before doing the work and we may decide not to do it. This is not the right mentality for us Muslims and we should be strong enough to commit to any tasks we set ourselves.
The Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘O Abu Dharr, beware of procrastinating with your [high] hopes, for verily you have today [at your disposal] and have not yet reached tomorrow. When tomorrow comes to you, then be in it as you are in the present; [that way] even if you do not have tomorrow, you will not have regret for all that you neglected today.’[Bihar al-Anwar, v. 77, p. 75, no. 3]
You should try and delay your task and fulfill it on time. It is better for you to stay motivated enough to do a task and not to be afraid of it. It is also important for you to stay active and commit to your work and that applies to religious rituals as well.
We are specifically warned about that in the following hadith:
Abu Barzah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) said:
“Man’s feet will not move on the Day of Resurrection before he is asked about his life, how did he consume it, his knowledge, what did he do with it, his wealth, how did he earn it and how did he dispose of it, and about his body, how did he wear it out.” (At-Tirmidhi)
So, we will be asked about our health, wealth and time. We know that one is not in control of his/her time and wasting their lifetime instead of investing it on what will benefit them in this life and the next.
Ways to help you with Procrastination:
One way to avoid procrastination is to improve on your food consumption and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes the food we eat can have an overall impact on how we feel inside, and some foods can even end up make up feel lazy all the time. This can also be harmful to your body and effect the mind.
In the flip side it can also impact your prayers as well if you get into the lazy habit. You may end up delaying or even missing your prayers. Shortening prayers or even cut down on praying extra sunnah and nafl prayers which you may have been doing well when you were on a good diet. Laziness can also be a sign of an illness. Not eating well can also lead to laziness which is the biggest reason for procrastination. You do not feel energetic enough and you try to avoid the task pending it.
Ali (R.A) said in a letter he wrote to one of his companions, ‘Seize what you have left of your life, and do not keep [deferring] saying, ‘Tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow’, for verily those before you were ruined because of their persistent wishful thinking and their procrastination until suddenly the command of Allah [i.e. death] overtook them while they were heedless.’[Bihar al-Anwar, v. 73, p. 75, no. 39]
We learn from this that procrastination effects everyone in some shape or form and even impacted those before us. So we should try and fix our state before death comes calling.
Being punctual is also another step you must take in order to overcome procrastination. You may have to create a timetable or schedule in order to start or complete certain tasks if you tend to easily lose track of time. Essentially, you need to be focused on the goal to complete your task. You may come across many obstacles along he way, but you must overcome them in order to become more productive.
It is very important to have a fixed schedule for your day to day activities from praying, ibadah, and to your other commitments. Some people try to find excuses for their lethargy and try to use their job a reason behind their laziness , but in essence the truth is that they are just looking for excuses for cover their bad habits. Everyone needs to work as that is a part of every day life, but we should try to avoid making it into a burden.
Do not make your prayers a burden for you as well. It is advised that you try to pray on time whenever you can. You should leave all of your tasks and run towards the Mosque if close by or time permits, but of course pray where ever you may be. Do not try to make your business and other work a problem. Do not run from your responsibilities by making excuses.
Allah Almighty mentions in the Quran: “By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (103: 1-3)
So, recovering one’s time and investing it properly is a serious matter that one needs to show importance to.
Don’t Give Yourself False Help
We have many plans and ideas in our head and they literally just stay there as they are not very realistic. When it comes to our faith, we procrastinate about investing our time into learning something new about our religion or putting more effort into understanding the Quran, learning Tajweed, learning Hadith etc. It is easy to lose track of time and fall into your worldly habits. But remember the overall aim and purpose of your life. What exactly are you doing for Allah in your daily life? Yes, we pray our daily prayers, but can we not go beyond that?
We come across people that try to find Ayahs (Quranic verses) and Ahadith about Allah’s Mercy, and regard it as an excuse for abandoning or delaying the obligatory acts and proceeding with the forbidden or disliked ones. Or that our fate is already written and whatever happens is meant to happen. This is true to some extent, but we still have the capability of changing our story for the better. We need to ask for Allah’s help in overcoming our nafs (desires).
Shaytan also will distract us from carrying out tasks that will benefit us as our Iman may be weak. So the only way we can strengthen our inner self is to put more time into ibadah. Get into the habit of reciting Quran daily for instance. Once you get into a good flow or rhythm you are more likely to stay committed for longer periods.
How To Take Action
Lastly here is our top tip to help you overcome procrastination In’Sha’Allah. If the action is too big or unrealistic in your eyes, then simply take one step towards it at a time.
For example you set yourself the target that ‘I am going to memorise the whole Quran’. Whilst the intention is very good, it may not be achievable in a timely manner if you are not able to commit 100% of your time to it. I.e. You are not going to an Islamic school to study. But will memorise it in your free time.
So, set yourself a small target to start off with. Rather than learning 1 page a day, say you will learn 1 line a day.
When it comes to taking action and starting off with something small, the tasks doesn’t seem to be big in one’s eyes any longer. So once you have learnt the one line, it feels like that you have actually accomplished something and it will motivate you to continue.
When you move on, you can slowly increase the number of lines a day and In’Sha’Allah the task will get easier and you will continue with it, without really thinking ‘oh no, its so much to memorise’.
Overall Points of Application:
1) Do not delay in doing any good deed and learn to prioritise i.e. do the obligatory acts before Sunnah and the Sunnah before voluntary etc…
2) Work for the hereafter and give it more time.