Imagine that your time is water. Every day, you get 24 liters to use as you wish. You keep it in one giant metal bucket and carry it around with you. The bucket leaks–if you don’t pour your time into buckets and use it effectively, most of it will end up spilled on the ground, lost.
Each day, you pass by some plants, and you have to stop and water them, or they die–the big, thick bush of family. The tall, massive oak tree of Allah. The smaller tree of yourself. Each plant represents obligations you must pay. If you don’t water these plants, they dry up, wilt, and eventually die.
Now, after you water them sufficiently, the rest of the water is yours–free to use as you please. You can pour it all into the plants for reading, video-games, hanging out, islamic work, whatever you please. Some plants bear fruit quickly. Others slowly. Others not at all–like weeds, they drink up all the water, and strangle any plant in their reach.
The key to managing your life is to pour the water into the plants that flower with the sweetest fruit–even if that fruit takes months and years–and not the quickest. And the best plants to water are planted on the soil of the akhira, not the soil of the dunya.
The three most important trees to manage are Allah’s tree, your family’s tree, and your own tree.
- Allah’s Tree: Your obligations to the Lord of the Universe. Pray your salaah on time. Pay zakaah. Feed the poor. Strive to work for His cause.
- Your Family’s Tree: Spend time with your family. Don’t neglect them. Be good to parents, they’re not going to be around forever.
- Your Tree: Take time out for yourself–especially as you get involved in more and more Islamic work. Never work at the cost of yourself–if this tree dies, there’ll be nobody left to water the other ones.
Incidentally, the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) distributed his water into exactly those three categories. Time into Allah’s tree involved time for the the Islamic State and the Muslims. The time for his family, he reserved for his family. And the time for himself, he used for personal ibaadah, and to answer any queries companions would bring him.
May Allah allow us to make the best use of our time in His cause, ameen!