You flip through the pages of a book. As your read the first page, then the next, you find yourself extremely interested in what is written. You continue to read, interested in the content. Then you open to a page that is only half full. You read it until the end, yet the story is incomplete. You look at the book in regret. This could have been your first self-published novel. It was only two chapters in when, somewhere along the line, you got distracted by some other project. The novel was put on the back burner, and now you have an incomplete novel alongside many other incomplete projects.
I know you want to get your novels written; you probably want to begin and finish many other things too. So how do you work those things into your schedule?
I’m going to tell a few tips and tricks that work for me. Some were inspired by a few self-help books I’ve read, and others are just tips I’ve figured out myself.
1. List your goals. Write them down. Preferably on a notebook, with a pen. You need to have your goals written down, so you have a baseline to start from.
2- Evaluate your goals. Are they physically possible? Are they time restricted? Make your goals SMART.
That is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. You need to make your goal specific. For example if your goal was to memorize Quran, you should write it like this: Memorize Baqarah by the end of the year. This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.
3- After deciding what goals are possible and realistic, write down the details. Split up your goals into small pieces that can be done every day, every week, or every month. Let’s take our Surat Al Baqara example and apply that here. Let’s say we memorize one Ayah every day. Baqarah has 286 Ayahs, so it is a great goal, that isn’t too hard and will leave you time to revise. Each one of your goals needs to be split up to an attainable rate. Make it so that you will work on your goal either everyday or every other day.
4- Write your goals on post-it’s or a poster and hang it up in a place that your frequently look at. This way, you are constantly motivated and reminded to keep up with your goals. I have my goals written on post-it’s that are strategically placed so that I can see it when I first wake up, and before I sleep.
5- Keep track. You are going to have to tweak things at some point. Maybe one Ayah of Baqarah everyday is too easy. Check up on yourself and amend your goals accordingly.
6- Challenge yourself. Stick a goal in your list that is not very easy to accomplish. Don’t make all your goals too easy. It defeats the purpose. Break boundaries. There are so many needs and ideas for Muslim communities around the world, and sad to say it, but few Muslims are really producers of new products that gain attention worldwide. Make it a goal to do something new, innovative, and never thought of before.
7- Look at last year’s goals. Did you finish some of them? Most of them? How did you do? Rate yourself. Looking at accomplishments helps motivate you, just as looking at your failures. You learn from your mistakes, and you keep moving forward.
8- Why? You need to have a purpose for your goals. Goals with purpose are motivational. There’s always that incentive there calling out your name. If you want to get fit, you have to have the purpose that you want to be a healthy person, and that your body has a right. The purpose of working out is what will help you keep going when you start slacking off.
9- You will slack off, you will fail, and you will procrastinate. Everyone does. And there will also be times where you will have to sacrifice one goal for another. Sometimes we just don’t feel like doing something. When the time comes, I encourage you to start that goal, work on it. If you still don’t feel in the groove for it, take a break, switch your schedule/routine around for a week, and see what happens. Sometimes we need a little change.
10- Make duaa. Duaa is the answer to everything. If you want something bad enough, you’ll make duaa and work for it. You can make duaa all you want, but if you don’t work for something, you can’t attain it. I remember listening to speech once, and the speaker said that asking for something without working for it, is like asking for a Toyota to turn into a BMW. It doesn’t just happen like that. You need to work your way towards a goal, and make duaa. This combination will get you to your goal in the best fashion.
11- It’s never too late to add goals to your list. Keep adding and keep working towards these goals. When you look back at how productive you were, you’ll be happy with what you see.
12- Make a to-do list every day. Every morning (or every night before you sleep) write a list of what you need to do the next day. Refer to your goal list and include each of your goals into your to-do list.
13- Add some fun goals to your list. Your list doesn’t have to be full of great achievements. Learn a new sport, read new books, and cook new foods. Those can be goals too!
14- Attach new habits to existing habits. Memorize your Quran after Fajr. Since you pray at the same time everyday, if you add Quran memorization to that, then Fajr and Quran will always go together. This way the habit will stick faster, and the effects will last longer.
I hope these really help you all out. I’m interested to hear all of your tips, and would like to see what works for you. Are there any of these tips that don’t work for you? Tell me in the comments!