School Books vs. Facebook

Assalamualaikum Shahirah Elaiza,

I have to say that even though I try to study smart, I can never organize my time and follow through the plan. I always end up not following a time table I made for myself and end up doing last minute work. It really frustrates me sometimes and I hate to feel this way. I guess it is a mentality I have since a child that made me like this. I used to think that everything will fall into its right place no matter what, and that made me take things for granted. For once in my life, I want to earn something with hard work but I have a hard time to change my attitude.

My question is how do get yourself to get the job done and consistently study? I get distracted easily by my laptop, and at times I find myself just wasting time on Facebook or something else. I don't know what to do.

Kind regards,

Wa'alaykummusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Nur,

Many students (including yours truly) have trouble balancing social media time and study time. I kind of think that you've asked for advice from the wrong person because YouTube is my friend and foe at the same time, but I will share some study tips that have helped me throughout my years at varsity. 

I don't think you have an attitude problem because you're right, inshaAllah everything will fall into place but not without effort and initiative on our behalf, as you know. Steve Jobs didn't become an icon of the 21st century by doing nothing.

"I find myself just wasting time on Facebook or something else."

I personally think de-activating your Facebook account doesn't help much because you can easily sign in again. So here are some tips:

1. Get your friend to change your Facebook password and make them promise not to tell you the new password until you've finished doing what you need to. Repeat when necessary.
2. If you don't want to be completely deprived of Facebook, try using Facebook Limiter
3. Turn off Facebook chat. When you're "available to chat" you're inviting people to distract you.
4. Remove the stream of real-time updates on the top right-hand side, known as the "ticker". Talk about information overload, Mr. Zuckerberg! Facebook claims you can't close it but the good people at have taught us how to hide the ticker.

Students usually go on Facebook when they really should be studying because they a) are bored, b) don't understand what they're studying, c) need a break. One of the best ways to overcome this is by studying with a group of classmates or friends who can make study sessions more fun and less monotonous. You can also remember details better when you discuss them. If you find yourself browsing Facebook or YouTube, etc. for more than 30 minutes, you might as well go on a real break. Try getting away from the computer screen! If you haven't prayed then maybe take a walk to the nearest mussolah or masjid to perform your prayer and take your mind of studies for a while. Whatever it is, just get off your seat and do something completely different for half an hour or so; exercise, read the Qur'an, make a sandwich, watch The Big Bang Theory - do anything that uplifts you. 

"I can never organize my time and follow through the plan."

When we set up study plans we are usually very idealistic about what we want to achieve. What we need to be is realistic and honest with ourselves. Is it really realistic to finish reading half of that thick book in one day? Be real with yourself and you'll be able to plan your study time more accurately and achieve more in the long run. 

This is a study tip from an Islamic point of view. Why not organise your study time around the 5 obligatory prayers? For example, set a goal by saying, "I'm going to finish at least 2 of these 4 readings before Asr time". I find this really helps to structure my day and prevents me from missing my prayers. This is also a very good way to discipline yourself because it takes discipline to pray 5 times a day.

I find that it helps to study in a spot that is conducive and makes me feel comfortable and focused. When I study I need to feel like I'm away from the world but surrounded by other students who are hard at work at the same time. It's tricky but after a while I did find that perfect spot in the library! Once that spot doesn't make you productive anymore it doesn't hurt to change your study area. I like changes so this works really well for me. 

You could also try the following: Post motivational sticky notes around your room, like on your mirror, noticeboard and the walls next to your bed. During exam time, be firm and spend less time with friends who distract you from studying. However, it may help to have a "study buddy" and the best part is the two of you don't even need to be in the same class. The point is to motivate each other to study.

My biggest advice is keep your eyes on the prize. Every now and then write a list of things you want to achieve in life to keep you in check because sometimes we lose track of our ambitions. Find someone or something to inspire you. Last but not least, make lots of dua because even if we put our heart and soul into something it doesn't mean it's going to work out the way we want it to unless Allah wills it. Nothing is possible without Him. If you humble yourself and acknowledge that you need God in your life, He will guide you inshaAllah.

My favourite study dua is

 اللَّهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلَّا مَا جَعَلْتَهُ سَهْلاً وَ إنْتَ تَحْعَلُ الْحزْنَ إذَا شِئْتَ سَهْلاً
Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja'altu sahla, wa 'anta taj-alul hazna idha shi'ta sahla

"O Allah!  There is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your Will"
(more study dua's)

Do you have any study tips to share?


Unknown said…
wonderful tips!

anyway I used to ask my bf to change my password during exams and ask him to help me with the games.

He will only let me know the password back when the exam is over. We did this every semester until I graduated :)
Maria said…
Salam :) Great post!!
I like to study by setting realistic goals like "I study ten pages today, insha Allah."(depending of the subject) No matter how long this takes, it may take an hour or four hours. Every day, same amount of pages, same time. And then you have free time without feeling guilty. And you better don`t overwhelm yourself by studying more than your daily goal, stick to the plan. But be realistic. Hope this helps.
Laila said…
Thanks for all this advices they're so useful :) but in my view, it someone don't wants to go on internet while he or she is studying, well I think he shouldn't open the laptop, he should hide it, or gives it to some one to hide it, I think it's that simple, well if you need to work with internet, or you need information from there I'll print it before I start to study

Another time thanks for this advice!
Nurfaizah said…
Haha, it is hard to get away from the screen especially when my projects evolve with using the computer and Facebook.. Then I get tired to face the screen when I'm home which is bad cause I have to get my work done. But anyhow, great tips! Especially the goals to achieve before the time to pray. :)
Shahirah Elaiza said…
Thank you for your ideas Maria, Laila and Nurfaizah =)