A skill, which is now rare due to our interconnected world, is the ability to focus. Ask yourself, when was the last time you were able to focus on a task so deeply that you lost track of time? Studies show that an average adult checks their phone 150 times a day. That’s almost 10 times per hour! Distractions are all around us and so we struggle to focus on tasks for a lengthy period of time.
If we ask those who are successful academically, and/or spiritually, they will tell you that the key to success is the ability to focus on your short and long term goals without being distracted. That may be for work, religion and even in our family and community relationships. In order for us to live the best version of ourselves, we must have the ability to focus on things that matter to us the most.
If you want to improve your focus and performance at work, start your day by sitting still after the Fajr prayer and either recite, memorise or contemplate upon the verses of the Qur’an. Concentrating on the book of Allah SWT and breaking away from distractions, such as the temptation to check your phone or getting up to do something else, will help develop the focus we desperately need to be successful.
How can we exercise our focus muscles? To nurture an intensely focused mind, a habit must be developed over time. A habit formation is the process where new behaviours become automated. Similar to when we instinctively reach for our mobile phones to check our messages each morning. New habits are hard to form because the patterns of our behaviour are engraved into our neural pathways. However, through repetitious behaviour, new habits can be formed.
Begin with sincerity. When you sit down to recite or ponder upon the Qur’an, do not simply do it just to exercise your focus muscles but rather, make the intention that it’s purely for the sake of Allah SWT so that you may be rewarded. This firm intention will allow you to stick to the act as Allah SWT will aid you. We know from a beautiful Hadith narrated in Sahih Muslim reported by Abu Dharr (RA) that the prophet Muhammad PBUH said, Allah Almighty says:
“…Whoever comes to me walking, I will come to him running…”
You should then set a specific time each morning, ideally after Fajr for approximately 30 minutes. By setting a time and sticking to it, reciting, memorising and pondering over the verses of the Qur’an will eventually become a habit. Keep all distractions away and not in your pocket or where you can easily reach for it (by distractions, we mean your phone!). Focus your mind on simply the Qur’an alone. Keep a notebook next to you to write down those thoughts that just won’t go away so you can come back to it later. By reading the text (visual), listening to yourself recite (auditory) or holding the Qur’an (tactile) in its physical format, you are awakening your brain in many different ways.
If you truly want to have a meaningful and productive lifestyle which allows you to focus and concentrate on tasks wholeheartedly, developing your focus muscles is a must. By dedicating your time each morning with the book of Allah SWT, you will be able to acquire a newly found healthy and enjoyable habit which will not only make you successful in this life but also in the hereafter, inshaAllah.