Let’s get serious about Leisure

March 16, 2015

bb943d578ca604518c2074c39323ed5dIf you’re tired of finding yourself wandering the inner depths of the Internet at 2am this set of tips will help you curb your Internet usage without curbing your curiosity. Read below for tips on how to enjoy your leisure and stop wasting time.

I stopped watching TV about two years ago and I naively thought all my procrastination problems would be solved. No more wasting time on entertainment for hours, I was going to be more productive in school and as a Muslim. Well, nice try. As the TV went off I began spending and increasing amount of time on the Internet until it replaced TV as my source of entertainment. Now that I’m in Jordan learning Arabic I realize I have to get some control over my Internet use. I’ve had a few successful days so far and I can’t help but share –something tells me I’m not alone in wanting to curb my internet use.

Think about non-electronic leisure you enjoy

The very first step is to ask “What else do I like to do?” Maybe it’s cooking, reading, journaling, or taking a walk outside, you have to first remind yourself that there are other things you enjoy doing. Sometimes we want to end our leisure in hopes of being more productive but I find that can be (at times) counter- productive, we need some leisure in our lives to renew ourselves for more serious work. And if we attempt to cut leisure out entirely we can find ourselves miserable or worse returning back to our old habits out of mere boredom. Hafsa, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, peace to him, was known to write poetry, so was the scholar Imam Shafi’I, leisure enriches our lives and sometimes helps us tap in to new talents. Non- technological group activities also give us time to relax with our family and friends.

Write out a time you want to use the computer and how long
Now we get to our actually computer usage. Sometimes we find ourselves on the computer at 11pm and wonder how exactly that happened? Or we spend an hour in the morning checking the net and barely leave ourselves time for breakfast, or we use our computer in the afternoon to distract ourselves from work/ homework. The best and worse time to use the computer is particular to your life but there is a best and worse time. Think about when that is and commit yourself to only using the computer when it’s most optimal. It may seem fun at the moment but if your computer use always ends in a feeling of regret how much fun is it really? Next, ask yourself how long you want to spend on the computer –be realistic! Excluding work that involves computer usage –which should also be structured, how much time do you want to spend on social media? Checking your favorite blogs? Reading the latest articles etc.? Again, be realistic. It’s better to start out with a 3-hour limit and slowly cut down to one hour than to cut it to one hour and fail miserably. It may also help to set a minimum and maximum limit so that once your minimum time is up it serves as a reminder that you should start closing out the tabs before you reach your maximum time limit.

What do you want to do?
If your serious about cutting down your computer time this may be the single most important step. I know that I usually waste time on the computer because I surf from one thing to another completely directionless. Ask yourself what exact you want to do online before opening your Internet browser. If you do want to surf that’s OK but give yourself a limit. For example: Visit 5 of my favorite blogs, check my social media, and read the latest article on my three favorite online magazines. Whatever you don’t get to do before your time is up, it’s OK, just leave it up and check it out tomorrow.

Make distinct time for leisure
Growing up I remember my dad coming home and seeing us –me and my little sister, on the couch books in our lap and eyes glue to the television –“Are you doing homework?” he would ask. We would always say yes but add that we were “Almost done”; nevertheless he commanded the TV must go off until we were finish. This is a valuable lesson that I finally understand. Leisure spoils work. But not only this, work spoils leisure as well. When you’re checking and responding to work related emails between looking at your favorite interior design blog –are you given either it’s full due? The email misses out on some of your attention but you also miss out on truly enjoying your leisure time with your mind flipping back and forth between leisure and work. When it’s time to relax, relax.

IMG_6679Turn off the net
If you live by yourself or can get everyone in your household on the same page, decide on a time to turn off the net. Maybe 8pm or maybe 10 pm but some time before bed do something dramatic and plug out the wireless plug. This will stop you from wondering how exacting you ended up with a screen in you face surfing the net at 1am. If you can’t do that then at the very least click the ‘off’ button on your wireless device.

Put away any electronics you don’t need after your net time is over
Literally put away. Put your laptop/ tablet outside of your bedroom –I suggest a bookshelf or closet. Out of sight out of mind. Since most of us use our phones as alarms (maybe something to reconsider for us technology addicts) putting your phone away is not an option but it is still useful to put it as far from you as you can while still being able to hear your alarm go off. Before doing so make sure your alarm is on and as loud as possible. This is a must so you avoid the trap of “making sure the sound is on” and end up on your Facebook newsfeed.

Calm the urge
The beautiful thing about the net is that it responds to our natural human curiosity but this is of course also the danger. Once you get off the net you will have a million and one different curiosity urges. You’ll want to know bits of information, you’ll wonder if your friend responded to your message or if anyone liked your pictures, it’s OK. But if you ever want to curb your Internet use, you can’t respond to it. The earlier you turn off the browser the harder it will be, just write it down. From the insignificant to the urgent, write down every urge you have that the Internet can fulfill and be patient. Tomorrow, by the grace of God you will wake up and if those things still matter to you, you can check it out then. See that’s not so bad.

**Final Tip** Remember the Prophet, peace and blessings to him, is said to have stated, “I do hate to see a man doing nothing for this world or the Hereafter. (1)” Whatever we do for leisure we shouldn’t indulge and we should try our best to firstly make our leisure halal (good and moral), intentional –leisure as a means to something of value, example: leisure to regain strength for worship, and as short as possible. And success is from the one who allows us leisure.

I’d love to know if any of these tips works for you, comment below or email me, info@nuriddeenknight.com.

1. Abul-Qasim Attabarani, ”AI-Mu`jam Al-Kabeer”, 9/102

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