I know things have been real quiet around here..but I have a really good explanation. I am focusing on focusing. It’s a blessing to be motivated and have 987 ideas but it’s mentally exhausting. I want to do it all! The most ironic side effect to wanting to do it all is that you end up doing nothing. I’m pretty busy with my Islamic Home Decor business but I still feel like I’m doing nothing for my actual long-term goals.Whether it’s your career, education, relationships or spiritual goals, you must focus on the most important ones in order to be successful.
I could tell my frazzled over thinking state wasn’t healthy so naturally I started a Ted talk marathon and began Youtubing videos of self-help gurus. I typed ‘how to beat procrastination’ and ‘how to focus’ in the search box; I ended up delving into the world of Vision Boards and Purpose and the Laws of Attraction. But the ultimate issue was FOCUS. Let’s focus on focus. I’m seriously considering having myself tested for some sort of attention deficit disorder…is it possible to develop later on in life? I have found so much valuable information for all of you! Get ready to change your lives and be the You, you always dreamed of becoming. But you must focus first.
Why is focus so Important?
The problem with focus is that most of us don’t have it. We have moments of genius when we have amazing ideas and noble goals..but then we forget. If we train ourselves to be able to focus, we will able to accomplish our goals and be purposeful human beings.
One of the worst feelings is realizing you had a pointless day. Where did the time go? I got nothing done! I was having a series of those days before I found a way to put an end to it. I’m adding ‘To be able to focus’ as an item on my dua list. The more I learn about it, the more I understand it’s value. Without focus we get nowhere. Imagine accomplishing everything you ever wanted to! How wonderful this world would be. That orphanage you dreamed of opening, the Surahs you vowed to memorize. Focus makes goals possible. When you learn to focus, the quality of your salah (prayers) increases. Focus is essential for all facets of your life!
Why is focusing so hard?
First of all the word Insan (human beings) is derived from the root word Nisyan which means forgetfulness. It’s a quality of ours that we need to be aware of and work on. Allah swt warns us and reminds us that our forgetfulness can be our downfall.
|For [thus it is:] when affliction befalls man, he cries out unto Us, whether he be lying on his side or sitting or standing; 19 but as soon as We have freed him of his affliction, he goes on as though he had never invoked Us to save him from the affliction 20 that befell him! Thus do their own doings seem goodly unto those who waste their own selves. 21|
Secondly, we live in an information over load age. We get hundreds of push notifications, and message pings and bells and beeps every hour completely sabotaging our focus and productivity.
Last but not least, Shaytaan. His life mission is to drag as many of us into Hell as possible. His most efficient weapon of choice : distraction. 24/7 he’s focused on distracting you from fulfilling the purpose of your life by busying you with unimportant things.
I will mislead them and I will create in them false desires… (an-Nisa, 119)
So what are we going to do about it?
1.Have a purpose
The first step is to understand the value of having goals or being aware of your purpose in life.Most of our goals are limited to ‘Today’s To Do List’. It’s often a mix of errands and everyday maintenance.We don’t think about five years from now, let alone the rest of our lives.
I find many people say that their core purpose in life is to earn Allah’s pleasure and ultimately Jannah. Masha’Allah that’s great! So what are you doing to fulfill that purpose? From the time you wake up until you fall asleep, how have you been working on the purpose of your life?
(This is the topic of an entire post in itself. Still, ask yourself the bigger questions why are you here? What do you want? If you could have or be anything what would it be? )
2) Wake up early:
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah.”(Ahmed). Not only is the early morning the perfect time to ask Allah to ask for anything and everything you want; but it’s also a very blessed time. I find my productivity is multiplied in the few hours of work I get done early morning verses, the rest of the entire day.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah Ra that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“Our Lord, May He be blessed and exalted, comes down to the lowest heaven every night when the last third (2/3) of the night is left, and He says : ” Who will call upon Me, that I may answer him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? “.
Is there something your truly desire or need? If Allah is telling you that whatever it is that you want , all you have to do is ask at Tahajjud time, then why don’t you? It must mean you don’t want it bad enough. Waking up for Tahajjud is hard, that’s why the pay out is so enormous.
3) Don’t multi-task.
This point is insanely hard for me. I’ve spent most of my adult years trying to perfect the art of multitasking only to learn that it kills productivity! I feel like I’m on top of my game when dirty clothes are in the wash, wet clothes in the dryer, I’m cooking a couple of things on the stove, something in the oven and I’m listening to an educational podcast while occasionally making notes as I keep an eye on the toddler and over see my eldest do homework. As accomplished as I feel, deep down I know that none of those things were done right. I wasn’t the attentive, loving mom I want to be, the food was edible not yummy,I had to re-listen to the pod cast and I don’t even want to admit the number of times I’ve forgotten the clothes in the wash. I can smell the stench just writing about it!
4) Turn it off and Time it.
Your phone, your Facebook messages, your emails, ALL notifications, keep them off for 1-3 hours.Either turn your phone off completely or put it on Air-plane mode. If you woke up at 5, that means you can turn your phone and electronic reminders on by 8 am. Every, single, notification you hear is a distraction. Even if you have the will power to not check the notification, your focus was weakened simply because your brain processed the sound. You do not need to be in the know all the time. You need to put on your blinders and tunnel through your work. The best way to gain focus is to set aside specific times for checking your e-mail and social media accounts. Go through and reply to all messages that require your attention during 2-3 designated times of the day.
5) Be clutter free.
Cleanliness is half of Deen. When your home is clutter free you can actually focus. Otherwise the stack of disheveled files and the over flowing garbage can will constantly vie for your brains attention. Being able to access what you need in under five minutes verses 20 minutes of ‘ I know it’s here somewhere’ proves to be more efficient too.
I find my mind will constantly keep mentally putting the items back to their appropriate places or feel guilty for letting the house go. My work space is a different story though. I need to have everything spread out in front of me in order to make better combinations and be inspired. Everyone works differently but the home in general should be a place of zen and order.
6) 90 minutes.
Our brains and body need to renew energy every 90 minutes. This is known as the Ultradian Cycle. We naturally operate with an ebb and flow of energy through out the day. Working consecutively for 8 hours is counterproductive. Work in short bursts of 90 minutes where you buckle down, distraction free. In between your ‘On’ times rest and renew your energy. The ideal work cycle is to have 3 bursts of ‘On’ times throughout the day..Focus is a muscle. You can strengthen it through practice.
7) Create a hierarchy of to do
What 2-3 things NEED to be done today?
Do them first.Do them before you check e-mail and the many notifications. (This is so hard to do! I’m trying to blitz through my tasks so I can check my Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook..I HAD to login to email for something related to this post but I didn’t open anything unnecessary..promise!). Insha’Allah once you connect better with your true purpose and ultimate goals, the order will become easily apparent.
Have purpose and stay focused.