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15 Minutes
Apr 1, 2006

Most of us don’t worry about 15 minutes, which perhaps is no time at all. In 15 minutes, it is hard to drive to work; it is hard to read a newspaper or even to eat a filling meal. However, this very short time period is long enough to download millions of bytes. And when we add up several 15 minutes we can see how much we can do in that particular slice of time. Since we live in a world of time constraints, we have to save every second of our life to better serve others.

Can we control time?

Some people say yes, we do, some say possibly, but the reality is we do not and we cannot! Time flows without interruption or interception. We grow, we change, we suffer; time laughs at us. And then comes our end, but time never ends… Controlling time could be possible if we were the creator of time. We make watches, clocks, and bell towers to keep track of time, but none of us is capable of stopping it for a second. Time is beyond our dimensions.

Time management methods

Currently there exist several methods to manage time. Everybody, including Dale Carnegie, suggests several different ways of planning for the best agenda.1-3 One of them1 is to start with a “personal time survey,” and this helps you with a “study-hour formula,” asking you to prepare a daily schedule on a poster board, or some other surface, while suggesting practicing critical behavior:

“Don’t be a perfectionist”

“Learn to say no”

“Learn to prioritize”

“Combine several activities”

And here we give a “personal time survey” which has been presented as a means to oversee your current usage on an hourly basis:

1. The number of hours of sleep each night

________ X 7 = _______

2. The number of grooming hours per day

________ X 7 = _______

3. The number of hours for meals/snacks per day - including preparation time

________ X 7 = _______

4a. The total travel time, weekdays

________ X 5 = _______

4b. The total travel time, weekends


5. The number of hours per week for regularly scheduled functions (clubs, worship, get-togethers, etc.) ________

6. The number of hours per day for chores, errands, extra grooming, etc.

________ X 7 = _______

7. The number of hours of work per week


8. The number of hours in class per week


9. The number of average hours per week socializing.

Be honest! ________

Now add up the totals: ________

Subtract the above number from

168 - ________ =________ 1

What’s wrong with these systems?

Dale Carnegie passed away tragically. Something was missing in his life, leading him to commit suicide, despite being one of the time management experts for a better life. So, what was really important and what was it that he failed to notice?

The most valid explanation is that the spiritual nature of human beings was not taken into account. Such experts seem to think that if we put things in order externally, our lives will be organized and consequently we will be happy. But evidently, we cannot progress without spiritual satisfaction.

Below are the key concepts in perfect time management:

• Priorities

• Careful organization

• Spiritual needs


Since time is immutable, we have to adjust ourselves to the speed of time. We have to list what is important for us and categorize them to see if there are possible combinations for extra time savings. It is truly important in such a concept to know our short term and long term goals, without excluding our needs and any dependants. The first priorities list may not work properly, but sooner or later, we will arrive at the optimum schedule.

Careful organization: A successful agenda

Regardless of our professional lives, every one of us needs sufficient time to relax. Thus, a cleverly organized day is what we should work towards first. Most studies show that a morning-afternoon-evening type division is insufficient to prevent the tediousness of long working hours. Counting every minute is the other extreme, if one desires to be fully organized. There should be some other way to divide up the day in the best way to ensure full-capacity performance.

So glorify God when you reach evening and when you rise in the morning; for all praise is His in the heavens and on earth, and towards the end of the day and when you have reached noon. (Rum 30:17-18).

This succinct daily plan mentioned in the Qur’anic verse above would be a good program if it can be applied (it is important to note here that this verse is not concerned with time management per se).

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, in his 9th Word,4 talks about the meaning of this verse, including how to glorify God. And also he mentions the parts of the day and their corresponding meaning with spiritual insight. He basically divides the day into five parts. A day starts with “early morning,” continues with “just past midday,” “afternoon” follows, and “sunset” leads you onto “nightfall.” By dividing one’s day into spiritual sections, it is possible to review the day and the progress between these parts.

Spiritual needs

Human beings are not animals. They feel, they choose, they live as they want. And they are free to go in any direction. They have a soul that guides their way of living. There are plenty of stories that have unhappy endings solely due to an ignorance of a spiritual life. Time management, of course, is directly related to the spiritual life of the individual; the choices people make are formed in their souls. They desire, they plan, and they implement. Thus, people also need time for their desires, and due to the large number of wishes people have to manage their time. An individual sets their priorities to achieve their goals. But due to the external effects (mostly other people) the schedule of this person changes to the best-suited model. Some people like such changes, but the majority do not. This is actually not very surprising, as human beings have different personalities and characters arising from their spiritual background. Therefore, anything that has an impact on spiritual life has to be important in managing our time.

To have the ability to control our life and to manage our time, we have to look within ourselves and discover what is in our hearts. For example one of my close friends told me that he had been able to experience a highly-ordered daily life when he left home after having read some verses from the Qur’an. He added that in a busy day, with tons of work, he still manages to handle all of it if he reads from the Qur’an at the beginning of the day. But if he doesn’t do this he loses control and everything becomes confused, and his mind jams. What is happening here is that perhaps he is able to clarify his mind by taking a spiritual shower that gives him strong support throughout the whole day.

Once we get into a spiritual flow we will be able to realize that everything has a harmonic rhythm that will help to build our schedule on the path we have anticipated. The key concept is, then, keeping our spiritual life balanced in a way that does not let anything interfere. My friend found the perfect key; this should also be possible for every one of us.

Action plan

Knowing that priorities, careful organization, and spiritual needs are key concepts in time management, one should find the best way for them to succeed. Below is a possible to-do list:

1. Identification of priorities: What is really important for me?

2. Planning the time: How do I like to do things?

3. Feeding your spiritual self: What can help my mind to be perfectly clear?

4. Reviewing the status: Where I am?

To start or give feedback if you have been carrying out a feasible plan you must be able to observe your present course. Prof. Rustu Kalyoncu suggests a plan with 15 MINUTES slices at this point: “Write down what you’ve done for every 15 MINUTES (for a couple days) and criticize how efficient you have been. I promise you’ll find lots of free time waiting for you…”


  4. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Words, (translated by Sukran Vahide), Sozler Publications, 1998.