Every year as Ramadan approaches, there are many online webinars, events, and local activities that all pertain to one thing: preparing you for the best month. I have always believed that knowledge is not power; knowledge is potential power.
Because no matter how many lectures you listen to, and how many webinars you attend, if you are not willing to take that knowledge and implement it in your day-to-day life, then you are really not taking advantage of your resources and the knowledge that you have been blessed with.
Of course, that would not be you, because you are one of the readers of ProductiveMuslim! The fact that you are here right now reading this is a clear indication that you are serious about your personal and spiritual growth, and I honor you for that. The fact that you are dedicating some of your time to read to become a better and more productive Muslim is definitely something honorable. May Allah always allow us to seek beneficial knowledge and help us implement what we learn.
As a personal development and high performance coach, I help thousands of people maximize their potential and become the best version of themselves. There is no better time than the holy month of Ramadan to do just that. Ramadan is an amazing opportunity for us to better ourselves, establish new effective habits, let go of ineffective ones, and set the tone for an awesome and productive year.
The tips and suggestions below have helped me over the years to really focus on the true meaning of Ramadan. My mission is to help you maximize your Ramadan so that you can truly reap its benefits.
Here are 7 simple yet effective steps you can follow to make this year’s Ramadan stand out from all the previous ones, In sha Allah.
1. Make the intention to make this your best Ramadan ever
Most of us are familiar with this hadith:
“The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention.” [Bukhari]
However, sometimes it is very easy to overlook this simple yet profound act of making the intention. I mean, with all our heart. I really believe that the first step to having an amazing Ramadan is by taking a sincere decision to do our best in every single way.
2. Set clear goals
Last year, I was invited to conduct a Ramadan workshop for a mixed-age audience. When I asked what their Ramadan goals were, an energetic young woman raised her hand and remarked: “I want to be more organized this Ramadan.” Even though from the onset that sounds like a great goal, and in essence it is, however, it is not a clear goal.
When you set your Ramadan goals, you want to be as specific as you can get. For instance, instead of putting down on your list “get more organized”, you may want to say things like the following.
- Read 5 pages of Qur’an after each Salah.
- Prepare 15 freezable dishes to cut down cooking time.
- Take a rejuvenating power nap in the afternoon to be alert during taraweeh.
You get the drill, right?
Now pause your reading, grab a large index card or piece of paper, and write down 5 specific goals to make this your best Ramadan ever.
One of my specific goals last year was to read the Qur’an along with its meaning. I do not know about you, but for me, as someone whose native language is not Arabic, knowing what I am reciting enhances my experience of reading the Qur’an cover-to-cover.
Remember to choose goals that you were not able to accomplish last year. So, if you always manage to pray taraweeh every single night with no worries, then do not put that down on your list. Choose new things. Remember, we want to amp it up this year.
3. Block the time to achieve your set goals
Now that you have set your very specific goals, you need to make a daily schedule and make sure to block the time to achieve your goals. Remember, only the things that get scheduled are the things that get done. That is just how it works.
Therefore, simply recording your goals on a flash card or notebook will not enable you to get them done. You need to make the time for any activity in your schedule and actually write it down.
I encourage you to make a schedule of your entire day, with half-hour to one-hour blocks to do whatever you need to do on any given day. It may sound very rigid, but it really is not. On the contrary, scheduling your day will free up your time because when you get things done in a timely fashion, you will have more free time to rest and rejuvenate yourself.
4. Minimize distractions
Let’s face it, we live in a world of distractions. All our emails, texts, social-media notifications can distract us from what truly matters.
Now, I am not suggesting we give up all our gadgets. Not at all. But when we answer all the calls and notifications, in a way, we become slaves to our devices. On the other hand, if we choose to take charge, we decide not to let them distract us. When we put them on silent or airplane mode, we use our phones and all kinds of electronics to their intended maximum potential. As a result, they become great tools to assist us in our daily tasks and can help us maximize our productivity.
There are some great apps that can help us track our time, memorize the Qur’an, or give us a daily hadith to ponder over. These are all great tools. However, we need to learn to use technology to serve us, instead of us becoming servants to it.
5. Plan ahead to simplify your life
Whether it is about preparing your meals or gifts for Eid, planning ahead will save you much needed time.
- Spend less time in the kitchen. From samosas to grape leaves, everyone wants to make something yummy for their families, which can be great! However, if you and your family are spending a huge amount of time at the supermarket or in the kitchen preparing a feast every single day, you are really missing out on the true meaning of Ramadan. So, a little simplicity can go a long way.
- Make a menu for the entire month. Make sure to keep it healthy and simple. If you know you will have guests on certain nights, you can make those Iftars a little more elaborate if you choose to. Otherwise, think of easy-to-make soups, salads, and plenty of hydrating foods to break your fast.
- Cook ahead. It really does not take much for one to feel satisfied. Think of meals that taste great the next day so that way, you can cook enough for two days, hence saving your time and energy.
- Prepare by freezing. Many casseroles, pasta dishes, and other meals freeze wonderfully. This can save precious time that should be spent in worship rather than cooking.
The key is to remind yourself of the true meaning of Ramadan every single day to help you prioritize your activities.
Why spend any precious second shopping at the mall or browsing for hours online? Get all the gifts for your loved ones ahead of time, preferably wrapping them and hiding them. Now, if you are buying something really big and hard to hide, then you just have to be creative! Shopping ahead also includes those special Eid clothes. Make sure you get them ahead of time as well. Just make a list of everything and get it done.
Trust me, it is possible to be all ready before the month begins, if you are strategic about it.
6. Dedicate yourself to service
This one is huge! It is all about using your talents, skills, and resources to make a difference in the lives of others, which can be accomplished in many ways.
You can bake some goodies and deliver them to your neighbors with a kind and caring note. Action is the best form of da’wah to show how beautiful Islam is. You can visit the sick and elderly in the hospitals and nursing homes. You can cook some food for your local masjid for people to break their fast with.
The options are so abundant, all you have to do is be willing to make a difference and take action.
7. Make the Qur’an a top priority
I saved the best for the last! Having touched upon the idea of prioritizing our time in step 5, it is very important for us to keep the focus of the month of Ramadan on the Qur’an and remembrance of Allah .
Allah tells us very clearly:
“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 185]
We need to block the time to recite and study the Qur’an. We need to ponder over its meaning. This is the month in which it was revealed. So, we really have to get serious about learning about the greatest miracle of our beautiful religion.
I wish you and your families an amazingly productive and meaningful Ramadan. In sha Allah, these tips will help you prepare to make this Ramadan your most productive one yet. If you have any of your own tips to be more productive in Ramadan, please share them in the comments!