It is officially 2023! I’ve never been the kind of person to make new year’s resolutions because I can’t stick to them no matter how much I want to. New year’s resolutions are always very daunting to accomplish so instead I decided to focus on how I can reorganize my life this year to be a more productive individual and most importantly a more productive Muslim.
I hope that we all find the strength to be the best version of ourselves, this year and all the years to come. Allah SWT loves excellence and He loves those who try to please Him as well as those who proactively take control of their lives. After all, it’s our actions that are going to dictate our success in this life and the hereafter. That is why I decided to start off the new year by organizing my life by setting my priorities (Islam, school, family, friends, work, etc). Let me walk you through how to reorganize your life this year!
1. Set the Tone
Being in the right mindset before accomplishing tasks is important. Setting the vibe of how you want things to turn out is key! This means being aware of how you’d like to be treated, how you’d like to treat others, and whom you choose to interact with are all ways you are setting the tone. Also, committing yourself to specific self-care tasks can help in setting a positive tone. For example, you may commit to doing a self-care routine once a week or may commit to refraining from unkind words with yourself and others, especially in times of conflict. Spiritually, you can set a positive tone by setting goals of how often you want to read the Quran or attend Islamic lectures.
New year’s intentions are an opportunity to hold yourself accountable for the energy you release into the universe. This is important for an organization because it sets the framework in which you choose to work, live, and connect with other people, but most importantly, it allows you to connect with Allah SWT.
Remember that “God wishes for your convenience, not hardship, so that you may fulfill your obligations, and glorify God for guiding you, and express your appreciation (2:185).”
2. Use an Organizing App
Notion is an awesome mobile/web app that allows you to organize, budget, and plan virtually any activity or event. What’s even better? Making an account is free with most academic institutions. My friend recently suggested this template that breaks the year into four-month increments because we change throughout the year and so do our goals and projects.
Alongside my school goals, I put into Notion my goals for finishing the Quran. Reading a singular word of the Quran has the power to secure your entry to Paradise. Perhaps I aim to finish certain chapters within the first six weeks of the year and the other chapters later on. Notion helps me keep track of all my responsibilities.
I’m typically a very anxious person when it comes to school but this template helps me become less overwhelmed. Looking at the year ahead can be draining, but focusing on the present just became a whole lot easier with Notion (not sponsored, LOL). Whatever app you find to help you stay organized is a step in the right direction.
3. Cleanse Your Space
Let me just put it out there: CLEAN YOUR ROOM! I know it’s easier said than done especially with hectic schedules but your room is a representation of your mind. When you are in distress, chances are, your mind is going through it. The best way to feel as though you have control over absolutely anything in your life is by slowly cleaning your space and making it more you.
It is narrated that “cleanliness is half of faith (Sahih Muslim, 223).” Therefore, we learn from this Hadith that it is a sunnah to maintain cleanliness. With each task you finish in cleaning your room, Allah SWT is pleased with your efforts to maintain the sunnah. You don’t have to spend the entire day cleaning everything, but you can divide the chores and complete them across a number of days to not feel overwhelmed.
Make sure to designate a space for rest and play and not do any work there. Completing your studies on your bed ruins your sleep hygiene and makes it a lot harder to sleep (at least, that’s what my therapist said).
Speaking about my therapist, she once told me that I should adopt a healthy sleep routine so that I could be productive and happy the next day. She advised me to avoid working in bed and to follow the same routine every night before sleeping. This way I was programming my mind and body that it was time for bed. And that it’s totally fine if some nights I have problems falling asleep.
Maybe doing skincare, reading the Quran to relieve stress, or watching an episode before bed is your idea of relaxation. Sometimes it helps me to do istighfar (repentance) or read short surahs to help me sleep faster and better. Whatever it is that brings you to ease, do it.
Allah SWT says that He “causes the dawn to break, and He has made the night for rest (6:96).” Allah SWT intended for us to rest our bodies by making nights a time to sleep.
5. Know Your Deadlines
This semester, I’ve made a list of all my assignments and tests on Google Sheets. I put them all in order, color-coded them by class, and will happily block them red once I submit them! Knowing when deadlines are approaching helps you better plan out your day, week, and month.
Knowing when certain things have deadlines allows me to know what I need to do, and when I need to do it. The more I know how much time my school will take during the week, the better I am able to plan time for reading a book, attending an Islamic workshop, or hanging out with friends. It’s important to know that Allah SWT loves those who allocate time for both pleasure and work!
6. Important Dates
I don’t believe you can EVER have enough calendars. It’s kind of like I need to prove to my brain that my list is all I need to do, so I have a ton of weekly, daily, and monthly calendars. You can include absolutely anything in your calendars: birthdays, exams, fun activities, important Islamic dates, etc. Your calendar is the best way to remember when an event is and when to begin preparing for it. One thing I want to say is please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t finish everything on your list. To stay organized, we must be kind to ourselves. Otherwise, we’ll fall behind because of perfectionism or fear of failing.
7. Seek Knowledge
So you must be wondering, “this article is supposed to tell me how to be organized in the new year, so why are we talking about a bucket list?” Well, my friend, you can’t be organized unless you prioritize a work-life balance. All work and no play leads to burnout, and then you won’t be able to do your work at the same quality you want.
Make a bucket list of fun activities to do this year. It can include attending a prayer circle, making sure to pray on time, or even having an Iftar party with your favorite people. I firmly believe Allah SWT has created such a vast world to seek adventure and knowledge. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” Knowledge is acquired through experience, which means that we are allowed to have fun, meet new people, and seek knowledge first-hand.
My best friend and I have planned activities that include things as simple as making vision boards to going roller skating every Friday this semester. Just a little treat to help us make it to the end of the week.
8. Find Your “Me Time”
I have a 9 AM-5 PM job but there are days when I am working until very late. However, putting that hard cut-off helps to make sure my body is resting, even if my mind is stressing about the workload.
This body is not ours, and to overwork and destroy our physical and mental health goes against what Allah SWT wants us to do. He loves us, and so it is important to love ourselves too. Sleep and rest are deeply intertwined with Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. He taught us to “offer prayers, and also sleep at night, as your body has a right on you (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 1975).”
9. Keep a Journal
Our thoughts race through our minds at all times of the day, but mostly at night. The best way to clear your head is to write down short thoughts on paper—I use the bullet journal I got on Amazon. Wonderfully enough, it is a Lebanese family-inspired business (again, not sponsored).
For a long time, I was skeptical about writing down personal thoughts, and while I still am from time to time, it is wonderful to just feel the release of having your thoughts somewhere other than your head. Declutter your mind any way you can to ensure productivity and organization because the organization is not simply in how you act, but it is how you feel and think. Allah SWT goes beyond wanting us to achieve physical success, He wants us to protect our souls.
10. Check-in With Yourself
Organizing your romantic, platonic, or familial feelings should definitely be at the top of your list. But even more critical is decluttering negative perceptions about yourself. Sometimes it’s hard to feel good about who you are. Asking the right questions can help with decluttering your mind. Before you set out to do something ask yourself, what the purpose is and how it will benefit you in this life and the Hereafter.
I fill my days with structure and purpose because it makes me feel like I’m enough when most times I don’t feel like I am. Allah SWT is currently helping me because He is always listening, and He tells us if we take one step toward Him, He will take many toward us. I’m working through this, but I know that working through it little by little is the key to long-term happiness and success.
Organization and decluttering are not something that can be accomplished in a matter of days. I’m the girl trying to find a rhythm that works for my mind and body because I know that is how I will succeed. However, I know that if I depend on Allah SWT, He will help me accomplish my new year’s intentions and goals. He promises us that He is there: closer to us than our jugular vein, and through all of life’s up and downs He is constantly protecting us.
I hope 2023 is fruitful for you, and that we achieve success in everything we set out to do!