Whether you are at work or school, a break is a must, even if it is only for a few minutes to disconnect from the task-filled environment. However, a break is not a license to slack or waste time. Breaks can be used productively, perhaps not for work- or school-related tasks, but for self-enrichment.
This two-part series will explore the many tasks that can be done during our breaks at work or school. Part 1 includes 8 suggestions for activities that can be done during our work break, no matter how long or short it is.
Time-out is essential
Professionals often find that a large portion of their waking hours are spent at work, preparing for work or thinking about work. A person does not have to be a workaholic for their career or job to dominate their life. This is not always a bad thing; a driven focus can help achieve many great things, in sha Allah. However, this can also leave an individual with less time to spend on valuable actions. Unfortunately, this can have a negative effect on a person’s faith, relationships and general outlook toward the world.
This being said, many of us can appreciate that within our working day there are times -particularly during our break- where we chat with co-workers, spend time online, scroll through our social media accounts or engage in other tasks that are mostly of no benefit to us. Break times tend to vary in length from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Regardless of how long your break is, there are many ways to efficiently and productively use this time. Let’s start with the first ground rule.
Plan your breaks around salah
Many of us use our breaks to pray our salah and eat. To make this time even more productive, plan your breaks at work around salah times. Putting your salah first is imperative.
Prophet Muhammad said: “The best of’ the deeds or deed is the prayer at its proper time…” [Sahih Muslim]
At times, when our break is short or we have a long to-do list, we rush or shorten our prayers in the hope of making our day easier; in reality, this is a recipe for disaster. Turning our back on Allah by not giving our salah its respectful time will only cause us major problems in the long run. Start each day by planning when you will take a break for salah and what you can do with the rest of your break time, if you have any.
The ultimate thing to remember is, while you are at work, this break is your time and therefore your life. Do not waste the valuable minutes you have because the only thing you will be left with is regret; why choose regret when you can be successful in sha Allah?
Here are 8 ways to maximize your lunch break.
1. Read Qur’an
Allah said, “[This is] a blessed Book which we have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” [Qur’an: Chapter 38, Verse 29]
Sometimes, we think we need a large portion of time to read the Qur’an with its tafsir. However, the important aspect is reading even one verse, understanding its true meaning as explained by the Islamic scholars, and then acting upon this new knowledge. The Qur’an was not sent down for us to simply read; it was sent to us as guidance to be acted upon. Make it a goal to read a few verses and their tafsir, contemplate over how these verses can be applied to your life, and then act upon them. If a 30-minute break leads to you applying even one small change to one aspect of your life that will make you a better Muslim, then that will be the best, most productive break you could ever have.
2. Pack on dua
As Muslims, we sometimes forget the best gift Allah has given us, which is a tool that can be used at any time during the day for any reason: dua.
The Prophet said: “Supplication [dua] is itself the worship.” The Prophet then recited: “And your Lord said: Call on Me, I will answer you.” [Sahih Al-Albani]
Regardless of how long your break is, Allah is always there and is listening. No matter how busy your day is, how hectic it becomes, or what problems you face, turning to Allah is the only way to get you through. We all have things we want Allah to bless us with, for our dunya and deen. It could be something as small as asking Allah to help you with your busy day or get you home safely after work.
The Prophet said “Your Lord is munificent and generous, and is ashamed to turn away empty the hands of His servant when he raises them to Him.” [Sahih Al-Albani]
Let your break at work be another time during the day where you can make dua to Allah to bring to you what is best for you.
3. Read in the seerah (or any beneficial book)
The life of Prophet Muhammad is the blueprint of how a Muslim should live. He was a Messenger sent to us by Allah to show us the correct way to live. Yet, many of us know little about his life, his numerous struggles, his love-filled personality, his astounding achievements and his sense of humour. Our love for him grows as we learn about all the things he encountered in his life in order to spread the message of Islam to all corners of the world.
Find an authentic seerah book such as “The Sealed Nectar by Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri” and read a page daily to help you attain more knowledge on the life of the best of mankind.
Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] said: “Whoever seeks knowledge, he is atoning for what has passed [of sins while doing so].” [Tirmidhi]
Even if your break is quite short, it can be the perfect time to take a step back from your day and reflect. Reflection is an important part of self-development, and it helps us identify the areas within us that we need to work on. Are you slacking in your salah? Are you reading Qur’an regularly? Are you putting your 100% into your family relationships? Are you spending too much time worrying about work? Putting the pause button on for a few minutes is all it takes to re-sync your direction toward working on the aspects of your life that need your attention the most. Alternatively, you could reflect upon the beauty of nature around you and give your mind a break!
5. Take a cat nap
Anas ibn Malik, a companion of the Prophet , said, “They used to gather and then take a midday nap.” [Sahih Al-Albani]
Daytime napping is something that has been practiced and preached for centuries. A simple snooze for 20 minutes can have a major effect on your energy levels and short-term awareness, without leaving you feeling groggy. Not only is this a sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad , but it will give you the reserve to get through the rest of the day and in sha Allah make it even more productive.
6. Go for a walk
Not everyone has time to head to the gym or join an exercise class, especially during a busy work week. We often allow our minds to believe that in order to be active or fit, we must spend time at the gym or in gym wear. However, the best exercise is free: walking. Head outdoors and walk around the block or even your office building. A short walk can have a profound effect on both our physical and mental health. If you are finding your day stressful, this tip could be particularly helpful.
7. Call a relative
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said: “Learn enough about your lineage to facilitate keeping your ties of kinship. For indeed keeping the ties of kinship encourages affection among the relatives, increases the wealth, and increases the lifespan.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
Maintaining family relations is a key characteristic of the believer. While families may spread across the globe, Allah has blessed us in many ways to keep in contact with them. With modern technology, it is easier than ever to drop a message or call your relatives wherever they are. Make it a habit once a week to call up various family members to send them your blessings and find out how they are doing.
8. Run errands
Paying bills, ordering a present, calling the gas company, picking up ingredients for dinner; there is a long list of things that would generally be easier to do in the day time. With working people tending to shop and call in the evening, anything you are able to fit into the day is a bonus for saving time in queues in the long run. By doing it during your lunch break, which you may usually spend chatting with co-workers, you now have free time to spend doing something you enjoy in the evening, in sha Allah.
After you read this article, think about which of these actions you could incorporate in your breaks. How else do you spend your lunch break? Feel free to comment below and share your insights with your fellow readers!
Also, if you are a student, don’t forget to stay tuned to Part 2 of this series to learn how to have a productive break in between your classes!