Q&A FRIDAY: EPISODE 03

Are you a Working Muslim or a Student? Here are 4 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Work-Breaks 

Breaks. The “free time” chunks that we save for ourselves… but never really know “how” to spend them.  

Which is why I have a short episode for you today that you can listen to in any one of your 10 min-breaks ( 😉 ).

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Two things to avoid doing in your break-time for maximum barakah
  • What to do “first” and what to keep in mind while planning for your breaks 
  • Different productive activities you can do in your break-time
  • How “Salah-time” should be separate from your “break-time”
  • The biggest mistake you should avoid- that can potentially waste your entire day!

Let’s get started!  

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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF Q&A FRIDAY: EPISODE 03
Assalamualaikum everyone! This is Aimen. And you’re listening to the third episode of Q&A FRIDAY, where I answer self-development questions from other growth-oriented Muslims, just like you. 🙂  Let’s begin with today’s episode.

BismillahirRahmanirRaheem,

Today’s question is from Moonn Rima and she writes… 

“So I have been struggling a lot lately because I don’t know how to spend my time. Let me explain myself. I’m overwhelmed by studies and everytime I take a break I end up doing something… not very recommended let’s say such as listening to music and then… goodbye to productivity and goodbye to ibada for the rest of the day. I know I know, It’s bad but I never know how to spend my breaks in a way that doesn’t necessarily make me veer off.  track. It would be really nice if you could treat this subject in your next Friday Q&A.”

Here we are Rima. And I have an answer to your question today. BTW, great question Rima. This definitely applies to of us working Muslims or students. And it’s so true how many of us spend our breaks in a totally unproductive way, and worst of all- before you know it- break time’s over and we don’t even know where the time went. That usually happens when you scroll through your phone, chat with somebody– basically when you’re not being mindful of the free time you have at your hands.

So today I have a few practical tips to help you make the most out of your breaks- whether they are short 15 min breaks or an hour-long break.

The way we’re going go about this is first I’m going to tell you a few things you should be avoiding (there are only a couple), and then we’re going to talk about  things that you could be doing to maximize productivity in your breaks.

Alright, let’s get started. 

[WHAT NOT-TO-DO]

So what “NOT TO-DO”, okay. There are 2 things: 

  • Okay so # 1 is do not scroll through your phone or social media aimlessly because time flies by when you do that and you don’t even feel like you did anything productive, you know. Plus it makes your head heavy, it strains your eyes and it doesn’t even feel like a break, honestly speaking. So just avoid it. Plus it’s a classic example of wasting your time and having no respect for your free time.  
  • And the second thing to avoid is, no “gossip” with your friends or colleagues. If your friends or colleagues are the gossipy type, then just don’t go even near the social-zone, you know. And Allah S.W.T tells us in the Quran that stay away from meaningless talk- it’s called lughw (Ayah reference at the bottom of the post). And umm.. Yeah.

Okay. Now let’s move on to the things you could be doing to maximize productivity in your breaks.

[WHAT TO DO]

  1. Plan your breaks ahead of time so that when it’s time for your break, you already know what you’ll be doing in that time. Because if you don’t plan ahead, you know what’s gonna happen right? You’ll end spending your break time deciding what to do. And after you’ve wasted like half of your break time being indecisive, you’ll give up and just end up doing what you always do- and that is scrolling aimlessly through your phone. So not cool. Okay. 😀

2. So, while you’re planning ahead, here are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re deciding what to do in your break-time… The first thing is…

Your energy levels:  So if you’re taking a break from studying or working too hard then avoid doing the things that are intense in nature. Especially if you feel tired or drained by the time of the break. You shouldn’t  do things in your break that are too heavy- that will require a lot of focus and energy.

For eg; reading a book or articles or doing an intensive workout. These are all intense tasks that require a lot of mental or physical energy. In such case, some of the best ideas would be listening to something– maybe a lecture, a bayan, a podcast— those are all productive task that do not require you looking at a screen– that’s why I didn’t say watching videos. Because you need time away from the screen– okay. That’s very important. Having some NO-SCREEN time is very important for your health too.

So, if you’ve been studying or working on your laptop, then you definitely should pick something that doesn’t include looking at the screen. Okay.

Other healthy no-screen ideas are going for a short walk, one of my absolute favorites, but if you’re not a walk person, then do some stretches, or jump rope- …something active… but not too intense. Just moving those limbs a little.

Another important thing to do is to go eat something or drink a nice milkshake or a smoothie or green tea with some snacks- whatever you like.

Now, on the other hand, if you’re feeling okay- your energy levels are not too low. You’re not too tired or drained, then it’d a very smart choice to do something productive like reading Quran for a few minutes with focus, or a Seerah book of the Prophet (S.A.W.) My favorite one is Sealed Nectar. Raheeq-ul-Makhtoom, I’m sure you must have heard of it.

Some other ideas are: reading blogs on topics that you want to learn more about such as (wink wink ;)) Muslim Youth Programme, or reading educative emails from your mentors, or if you’re at home, then one of my favorite ones is spending time with family, any chance I get because it’s a responsibility upon you to sit down and talk to your parents, grandparents, spouse, children and give them your undivided attention, even if it is for a short period of time.

Alright, moving on to point # 3… 

3. Your Salah should not be a part of your study breaks. Hear me out. Your Salah deserves a whole separate time-block. Meaning, if you cram your Salah in your 15 mins study break, then you know what will happen? You’ll rush through your Salah to get to the part where you can relax. That’s a twisted way of approaching breaks.

Your Salah is your spiritual break. A break from reality of this dunya. You know. It’s a time when you get to enter a spiritual zone where you can make dua with khushoo, with peace of mind, totally detached from your work for a little bit.

So let me explain this with an example: Let’s say you’re working or studying at home from 10 am to 3 pm on a Saturday. Your break shouldn’t be like, from 1 pm to 1:30 pm… pray, eat lunch, and watch YouTube videos. No.

Instead, a better way to use your break would be- 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm- Salah break. 1:30 pm to 2 pm- eating lunch with family or whatever. Those few peaceful minutes of Salah with khushoo, will add Barakah in your time and if you decide to take a slightly longer break because of your Salah, then guess what? That’s okay! You’ll have barakah in your time that way and you’ll get a LOT more done anyway- which is the ultimate goal right? 

4. Okay, finally, the last tip I have for you comes from what you said earlier, Rima, that “Everytime I take a break I end up doing something… not very recommended let’s say such as listening to music and then… goodbye to productivity and goodbye to ibada for the rest of the day.” That is not good. Let me tell you why.

I’m not saying that listening to music or doing something wrong is justified, of course it’s wrong, but what’s worse is doing something wrong and then wasting the rest of your precious time wallowing over it, saying to yourselfToday was a waste, I messed up, why bother.”  You know. Or… “I’ll start tomorrow and do everything right from tomorrow.” Haha, that’s not going to happen.

You can’t have a perfect day and expect yourself to be perfect all day everyday. And if you take the approach of either doing everything right or slipping up once and saying goodbye to Ibadah and productivity, then nobody can move forward that way.

That’s just another one of Shaytan’s many devious tactics. He’ll convince you that you messed up, why bother doing anything good now, let’s just waste the WHOLE day and start again “tomorrow”. Haha. You’re getting me right?

So I could either tell you to “Hey Rima. Stop doing wrong things and just always do right things.” But you and I both know the right from wrong. And yet, we will make mistakes at some point. Because we’re humans.

But the biggest mistake of all would be to let one mistake of the day lead you to making many many more. To let one slip up lead you to dumping all the good deeds that you were doing for the day.

And let’s wrap it up with that.

So, a quick review of all the things you need to keep in mind while taking breaks is:

  1. Plan your breaks ahead of time
  2. And while you’re planning and deciding what to do in the break time, keep in mind your energy levels.
  3. Your Salah should not be a part of your study or work breaks. It deserves a separate break on its own. A separate time-block. 
  4. And finally, if you mess up one of your breaks doesn’t justify that you waste the rest of the day and tell yourself that you’re going to start again tomorrow. No. Instead, make the most of whatever time is remaining for that day and Insha’Allah, do better the next day.

And Allah (S.W.T) knows best!

I hope today’s Q&A was helpful. I pray Allah (S.W.T) helps all of us make the best use of our free time, Ameen.

(For the rest of you who’re listening, if you have a question you’d like for me to answer on the QnA Friday podcast, just click the button on the top yellow bar that says “ASK ME YOUR QUESTION” & it’ll redirect you to the page where you can send me your Q.)

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SALAM! I’M AIMEN.

I help Young Muslims on their journey of Personal Development. I believe it’s always the right time to make ourselves better, what do you think?

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Now I’d Love to hear from you…

To add to the conversation, in the comments section below, let me know one productive way in which you spend your break-time!

If you’re thinking of spending your breaks in a productive way that can help you gain some “extra ajar”, you have a brilliant mindset and you’re already ahead of the game, my friend. 🙂 Masha’Allah.

So many Muslims come here looking for ways to spend their time mindfully. Your personal tips or insights in the comments might just help them become more productive.  

Finally, remember to stay away from things that waste your time. 

“Successful are the believers…those who stay away from lughw (things which waste time)” [Quran- Surah Mu’minoon 23: Ayahs 1 & 3]

JazakAllah for listening, reading and adding to the conversation. I really appreciate you!

I’ll talk to you in the next episode of Q&A Friday, Insha’Allah.

BarakAllahu Feek. Assalamualaikum warahmatullahe Wabarakatuhu.

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Founder & Author l Muslim Youth Programme
Aimen is a Medical Doctor who teaches self-development to young Muslims struggling with the fitnah of this century. Her aim is to educate and empower Muslims with practical advice on self-development, productivity, studies and health, with insights on Islamic psychology. Jumpstart your productivity and take action on your goals by signing up to her latest FREE productivity Bootcamp for Muslims.
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