ProductiveMuslim is pleased to present to you, Br. Tushar Bhuiya.
Since 1999, Tushar Imdad-ul-Haque Bhuiya has delivered workshops, lead committees and trained delegates in his various roles including:
- President of the University of Leicester Isoc,
- Student Union Trainer,
- Windsor Fellow,
- Leicester Mediator and
- Director of The Qurba Institute.
- Founder and Instructor at eTime Management
During this time, he practised principles learnt from his time management study and also managed to: marry at the age of 20, graduate with an LLB Law degree, qualify as a copy editor, study Arabic in Jordan, volunteer for SunniPath – one of the world’s largest online learning academies- and run a tutoring business. Strongly believing in a work/life balance, Tushar’s interests include: reading, learning Arabic, chi kung, singing qasidas, travelling, visiting family and spending time with the pious.
1. Tell us about yourself
I was raised in Preston, north west England, but developed my passion for Islam, law, teaching and time management, in Leicester – ‘the Medina of England’. Intoxicated with the thrill of student societies, I became a student trainer, Leicester Mediator, Windsor Fellow, writer for the Law Society and President of the Islamic Society. Graduating with an LLB Law degree, I trained for two years as a lawyer before switching to teaching. Upon qualification, I was fortunate to teach English at the UK’s first purpose-built Muslim state secondary school, Madani High School in Leicester.
Concurrently, I had continued my Islamic activism with volunteer work for SunniPath and SeekersGuidance as well as founding the Qurba Institute in Preston (which organised courses in Arabic, Essential fiqh and the Fiqh of Inheritance). Also, having a passion for English, I qualified as a professional proofreader and copyeditor. Being an avid reader of success literature, and desiring more freedom to pursue Islamic studies, I decided to leave full-time employment and founded two businesses: Sheikh Speare Tuition & Time Management Leicester (TML). Sheikh Speare focuses on tutoring English to children from the age of 8, right through to adulthood. Although a small business, I am blessed to be able to cater for mainly pious Muslim children from devoutly practising families. TML delivers workshops in two unique systems of time management, and we deliver a mix of web-conferences, live workshops, client visits and one-to-one coaching.
My aim is study the Islamic sciences full time, and – combined with my current knowledge of law, teaching and productivity – make a huge difference to the ummah. In other words, I want to follow in the footsteps of people just like the shuyukh who you’ve interviewed already.
2. How and why did you start Time Management Leicester? Was this your first venture?
I had been practising Stephen Covey’s First Things First system of principle-centred time management for many years; I had also dramatically increased my efficiency by implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done system. Now my tutoring business was approaching a slow period: exams had finished, summer holidays were approaching and I had little work. So I had to think of some way to earn money. I happened to be attending a workshop about how to start a business. It was delivered so badly – and the trainer so incompetent – I realised that I could do a lot better. I could run workshops! The topic of time management was natural, as it was something I’d tried on myself and seen the results. Also, it was – and is – a niche area with no known trainers targeting Muslims. So, following the success principle ‘Just lean into it‘, I hired a hall, advertised through my existing networks, and – alhamdulillah – I had a sell-out workshop.
My first ‘venture’ was probably founding The Qurba Institute in 2004. The aim of that was to spread sacred knowledge in the community. When I moved to Leicester, the co-founder, Ghazanfar Akram, continued this endeavour. Sheikh Speare Tuition was my first business. In Highfields, Leicester (and in the Muslim community nationally) you find Muslim children who are good at science, good at maths but lousy at English. Being one of the few ‘practising Muslim English teachers’ around, I soon became a trusted name in the Muslim community.
3. What’s the secret to Time Management? How do you get the most of your day?
Given that a single course I deliver takes a minimum 3 hours, it’s hard to answer this in a paragraph! However, there are important principles. Firstly, trust in the One who gives you tawfeeq to even breathe, and beg Allah for baraka in your time; ask at the beginning of each day, after your fard salat and whenever you can.
More specifically, in terms of efficiently getting through projects, you have to know what you want. As a Muslim, we can’t want anything less than Allah’s good pleasure and Jannat ul-Firdaws. Next, is realising what is it that Allah wants you to do with your life. What skills, talents and passion has Allah instilled in you, for you to best excel and serve humanity? Once you figure that out, you’re half-way there. That’s why the scholars of our ummah have always been incredible exemplars of time management. If you read about their lives, it’s not uncommon to find that they didn’t waste any moments – to the extent that their meal times, sleep and speech were all reduced to a bare minimum! It’s not just scholars. If you read the interviews on ProdutiveMuslim.com with people like Shahed Amanullah, they are so passionate and devoted to their cause, that they spend every moment they can on it; they don’t need a system; they don’t need to even plan much – they just do. People at this level include leading politicians, leaders, CEOs, sportsmen and anyone who’s reached a level of prominence in their field. However, such people can still lack balance and so it’s just as important to know WHAT we should be spending our time doing.This requires knowledge that only the Creator can give, through His Quran and the Sunnah of His beloved prophet, Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). The Sunnah teaches us to divide our time between our Lord, ourself and others (family, friends and community).
Practically, I achieve this in two ways: 1. having a regimen of awrad (regular daily devotional practice e.g. half a juz of Quran) that I do every day, no matter what; & 2. having a cut-off point for my work (6PM) – after which I have time for family and friends. Two other secrets to time management include spending time with, learning from and asking people of excellence. Mashallah, ProductiveMuslim.com is a step in this direction. The more you hang around effective and productive people, the more you’re inspired to be like them. Finally, you could read and learn the systems that have been tried and tested by thousands of people. Covey’s habits of private victory, Allen’s 5 stage process and Fiore’s stratetic programme for overcoming procrastination are my favourites.
4. What if you have nothing to do in a day? How do you manage time then?
Hassan al-Banna once asked his students, rhetorically, ‘If I had two people to give a task to, one who was always busy with projects and the other who had lots of free time, who would I give it to? The busy person, as he is in the habit of getting things done, whilst you have to ask why has the second person got nothing to do?’ In other words, for a productive person, let alone Muslim, it’s inconceivable to have nothing to do in a day. My second system which I teach – based on Allen’s method – gives a great answer to this question as it is a contextualised system, unhampered with deadlines or scheduling. A time effective person will always have projects and unfinished work to do, and if he has these tasks arranged in contextualised lists then whenever an opportunity (what Allen calls ‘a weird time window’) comes, he can seize it most efficiently. Until you learn that system, you still can take advantage of the time to do things you don’t ususally get to do when you’re busy: ring/ visit a friend, read that book you always wanted to, tidy up, relax! But this is exactly why learning a system can help. People who haven’t studied a time management system often don’t know what they’re not doing, or – if they do – never get round to doing it.
5. Top THREE books you recommend to learn how to manage time?
- The Value of Time – by Sheikh Abdul Fattah Guddah
- Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – by Stephen Covey
- Getting Things Done – by David Allen
6 How does Islam help you manage your time effectively?
My first workshop is divided into four parts, the first quarter of which is devoted to Islamic strategies in time management. In fact, my whole journey in time management was due to following the advice of a scholar (Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – also interviewed on ProductiveMuslim.com). The mission of TML is to operationalize the Sunnah for our times. So, Islam is everything. All the principles of time management, leadership and effectiveness can be found in the Sunnah; modern methods, usually discovered by non-Muslims – simply help us to implement these principles in a way that can work in the era we find ourselves in.
7. In your opinion, what’s the relationship between time management and being a Productive Muslim, does one lead to the other?
Absolutely. They’re synonyms. Being productive means making effective use of one’s time, and having good time management means you’ll be productive. The only concept we have to watch out for is that of ‘busy-ness’. Many people are very busy, working flat out. But they’re depressed and have broken homes to return to. That’s NOT productive. Also, there are lots of efficient people out there – especially celebrities or owners of corporate empires or leaders. But, unless they are clear about their purpose in existence and their actions lead towards fulfilling praiseworthy goals, all their efforts are a waste of time. Thus, one needs to be principled first. That’s why my first workshop is about principled time management, which I train delegated in before showing them how to be efficient and effective with their principled projects.
8. Final words of advice to ProductiveMuslim fans and readers on time management?
In Surah al-Asr, Allah swears by Time and says ‘By Time. Verily, Man is in a state of loss, except those who have iman (faith) and do righteous deeds, and enjoin others to truth and patience.’ Thus, by having iman you have made the greatest investment in time possible. But that’s not enough; the next stage is ‘righteous deeds’. From hadith, we know that the most beloved of deeds to Allah is that what He’s made obligatory. We have to know what Allah wants from us. Before anything else, we have to ensure we’ve given time to studying what Allah has made obligatory/prohibited (which includes beliefs, worship, social dealings, financial dealings and states of the heart). Then we have to spend time doing what Allah loves us to do. If we’re not doing these things then – no matter how brilliant we are at our job, our community activism, anything – on the Day of Judgement we’ll regret it. The ones who’ll have no regrets are those who strived to learn what Allah expected of them, and spent their little time in this world in obedience to Him. They, ultimately, are the best managers of time. They are productive Muslims.
Jazak Allah Br. Tushar, for sharing your experience and wisdom. We pray our readers have benefited from your words. May Allah bless you and increase your talent, Ameen.