The skill we are about to discuss today is the mother of all skills, for most likely, you will be unable to develop any other skill if you lack this one. This skill I am referring to is time management. Time is one of the most valuable resources one can possess. Success depends on how well someone manages his time.

Robert Lee Dunham

Robert Lee Dunham is an excellent example of someone whose efficient time management has paved his way to success and fortune. Robert was born in 1932 to an impoverished family. His mother used to be a housemaid. When he was ten, he decided to help her by polishing shoes, delivering newspapers, and collecting litter. When he reached the age of college and realized that he could not afford it, he joined the US Army instead and worked there as a chef assistant. He learned quickly and he became the manager of one of the Army’s restaurants within a few months. He had a dream of running his own restaurant, so after four years, he joined the Police Department to improve his income and earn some extra money. Robert realized that besides money, he also needed to learn about business management to achieve his dream. Therefore, for about fifteen years, he continued to work with the police during the day, and spent his nights between business classes and working as carpenter, as an extra job.

Once he thought he had enough money, he asked the owners of McDonald’s, a newly established chain of restaurants at the time, if he could buy a franchise. They agreed only to a condition: that the new restaurant be open in Harlem, New York, known then for its high violence and crime record. Lee Dunham took the challenge and agreed.

The restaurant witnessed a lot of trouble in the beginning because of robberies, fights between gangsters, and even shooting incidences. People started to avoid the place because of all the violence happening there. To solve this problem, Lee Dunham decided to offer the young people of the neighborhood job opportunities in his restaurant. This way, he could make the best of the people, help them stay away from crime, and protect his restaurant all at the same time. His plan worked, and after one year, the owner of the McDonald’s chain of restaurants visited his branch in Harlem and awarded him for his success and accomplishment.

Due to the wise management of his time in his early days when he was able to learn cookery and business and save money at the same time, Robert continued to succeed later in his life. He went on to open more McDonald’s branches, and started to provide the youth with financial support in order for them to continue their education. His constant advice for them was to not to waste their time and try to make the best of every minute of it.

Obstacles that can hinder effective time management

- Relaxedness and taking the leisure of time: Allah(1) (SWT(2) ) says what can be translated as: “Near to mankind has drawn their reckoning, and they, in (a state of) heedlessness, are veering away. In no way does any Remembrance from their Lord come up to them a recent discourse (i.e., recently revealed) except that they listen to it (while) they are playing.” (TMQ(3), 21:1-2).
- Accepting distractions: in order to be productive, you must focus and lend the task at hand your full presence and attention.
- Haphazardness: doing anything at any time with no planning.

How to achieve effective time management:

- Prioritization: prioritize your tasks for the day and have your time allocated to accomplish something in each of these spheres: social, spiritual, physical, and financial.
- Minimize distractions in your work environment
- Try to make use of the time you spend in transportation.


(1) The word Allah is the Arabic term for God. Although the use of the word "Allah" is most often associated with Islam, it is not used exclusively by Muslims; Arab Christians and Arabic-speaking Jews also use it to refer to the One God. The Arabic word expresses the unique characteristics of the One God more precisely than the English term. Whereas the word "Allah" has no plural form in Arabic, the English form does. Allah is the God worshipped by all Prophets, from Adam to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

(2)SWT = Suhanahu wa Ta'ala [Glorified and Exalted Be He].

(3)TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.