"Close has come to mankind his accounting. Will he still be heedless?"
The above Qur'anic verse is the beginning of Surah Ambiya, chapter 21, followed by narrations of the people who were before us, people who were destroyed on the account of their wrong doings.
Life has only one chance.If you fail in your exams, there is always a next year. If you lose your spouse, there can be a second marriage, but if you die, there is no second chance. This life is only one opportunity.
Those who were before us had lives longer than us. The Qur'an talks about Nuh (as), that he worked among his people for 950 years; whereas the average life of this Ummah is around 60 years.
We are the last to come but the first to enter Paradise.
With this short life, we still have the opportunity of making the best. It all depends on how you do, what you leave behind, not whatever you leave behind.
The difference between doing and wanting to do.
There are many things in life that we want to do desperately, but we are unable to do them due to various reasons. But, there are many things in our life which we can do, we are supposed to do, yet we do not do them. The list would be a long one. You can include memorizing of Qur'anic verses, visiting a dying relative or repaying you debt. You have chains of excuses because you don't want to do these things.
Let us see how much we live actually.
If you have to live for 60 years, subtract 15 years of your boyhood where no one questions you. From the remaining 45 years, if you sleep for 8 hours a day, you have deleted 15 years in sleeping. From the remaining 30 years, if you spend 2 hours on the television, you have 2.5 years watching what other people do and nobody pays you for that. From the remaining 27 and half years of your life, you have to earn and yet find out ways for immeasurable reward from Allah.
How and where is our time wasted?
Time is wasted in minutes. E.g. waiting for a friend, at a bus-stop, chatting on useless topics.Assemble these pieces of minutes everyday and count how many hours you waste every year.
"Let every man know what he has sent forth." (59:18)
1) Make a list of your time wasters even if they are a few minutes long.
2) Make a list of the things which remain unattended by you and have the potential to become a problem if you don't give them immediate attention.
Our most productive actions.
a) Perform Isha and Fajr salaah in congregation and receive a reward of praying the whole night.
b) Do ibaadah in the nights in the last odd nights in Ramadan and earn a reward of worshipping for 1000 months. If you do it for 10 years, it will be equivalent to 833 years.
c) Keep aside one hour everyday for self- development. Suppose you choose to memorize one dua everyday for one hour, by the end of the year, you can memorize 365 duas of the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). If you want to learn Arabic for one hour everyday, you have 320 hours every year if you are 80% regular in your learning. Now, without wasting time, make a list of the things you would like to learn in the next three months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years. These are called "short term goals" and "long term goals" in terms of the corporate world.
What are your most productive Islamic activities?
This is for a continuous reward (Sawaab-e-Jaariya).
Choose from the below activities or add your own skills and talents:
a) Teach someone any aspect of Islam, be it a dua, correcting his wudhu or his recitation of the Qur'an and lo! He keeps on doing it properly and your account keeps on increasing.
b) Talk to a non- Muslim about Islam.
c) Be a volunteer for any social cause in helping people.
d) Intercede for a good cause and have a share in it. (Surah Nisaa:85) Spot an orphan/ widow and find out a sponsor if you cannot afford it yourself.