من إشتغل بغير المهمّ ضيّع الأهم
He who busies himself with the trivial wastes the important.
Time-management advice from Imam Ali.
عليك بإدمان العمل في النشاط والكسل
Be active and dynamic, whether you have work or not.
Being active and making the best use of time is important. And this is not only if you have a job, it is equally important if you are unemployed, retired or during weekend.
And why is it important? You will get rid of boredom and negative thoughts, learn new skills, and finish pending tasks. And as the English saying goes: Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
Note that the literal translation of this quote to English is: “Be addicted to work, whether you are active or lazy“. A question springs to mind: You will work if you are active and energetic, but how can you work if you are lazy?
I think the Imam meant that working is important whether you enjoy what you do or not. This happens to many of us: we might love performing a specific task of our job but hate other tasks. A student might love a certain subject but hate another one. A housewife might like to perform some home duty but hate another. But in any of the above examples, if you become picky in what you perform, you will never finish the overall duty or project. Therefore, the whole picture and roadmap and the final target must be kept in mind.
This quote reminds me of the quote: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration“ by Thomas A. Edison. If you only enjoy doing the one percent, you will not do the remaining ninety-nine percent. Therefore, you will never reach the hundred percent!
ماضي يومك فائت وآتيه متهم ووقتك مغتنم فبادر فرصة الإمكان وإياك أن تثق بالزمان
What passed from your day is gone, and whatever time left from the day is uncertain, but your present moment can be seized. So make use of the opportunity and never trust time.
Your power and control is over the present moment, you cannot control the past and you are not sure how long you will live. So make the best use of this moment and never trust time, because you never know what happens next.
This advice is in the context of sins and repentance, the Imam is advising us to make use of our time to repent. But it is equally applicable in other areas of human effort.