People ask me whether I’m always productive and if I ever relax…
The answer is yes and no.
Yes, I try to be constantly productive and not waste my time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m on energizer batteries 24/7! In fact, I do switch between 3 different modes of Productivity:
1. Time out Mode
This will probably be your favourite mode, and it’s basically where I press the pause button on myself and relax with a small effortless activity. The activity could be drinking tea, playing sports, gazing at the sunset, or simply sitting in a mosque remembering Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) and reading Quran. ‘Time out’ mode is how I recharge myself and prepare myself for the next 2 modes.
2. Surf Mode
Surf mode is the ‘cool’ mode to be in. It’s when I’m not particularly busy or free, but somewhere in between. I effortlessly glide/surf between different tasks and I seem to be able to knock out 3-4 tasks in an hour. I love the ‘surf mode’ since I feel that I’m being productive without getting stressed or rushing between tasks. Working on something you enjoy normally puts you in this mode; reading an interesting book and learning from a teacher are other examples.
3. Super Survival Mode
In those days or week when I know I have lots of things to do (perhaps more than I can fit in my time), I switch to ‘super productivity’ mode. This is where I wake up super early, I’m more careful about every minute spent, and I cut down on social/extra-curricular activities in order tackle all my tasks. Big deadlines, important reports, or simply a week where a lot of things are happening can all send me into this mode. It’s important to note that this is a mental switch more than a physical switch and you’ll survive in it as long as you are dedicated; it’s similar to the mental switch a student has before their exams to make sure they revise and cram and not waste time.
So those are the three modes of productivity that I switch between and here is how you can use each effectively:
1. Decide on the mode a week in advance
If you perform a review of your to-do list and roles every weekend, and start scheduling things in advance, you’ll know when to switch to which mode. This allows you to prepare yourself and not get caught by surprise.
2. Make sure it’s worth it
For each of these modes, make sure you make most of them by planning for them well. For example, for ‘timeout’ mode make sure you have a specific relaxing activity planned for that mode; for surf mode make sure you have a list of related to-do items that you can tackle together in one sitting, e.g. all computer related tasks. Finally, for the super productivity mode, again, make sure you plan it well and not go into this mode unless absolutely necessary.
3. Don’t stick to one mode for too long
Within any of your daily 24 hour period, make sure you switch between the 3 modes. So you may start after Fajr prayer with ‘surf’ mode, then as the day progresses you may switch to super mode for difficult/challenging tasks. At mid-day, you may take a nap as part of your timeout mode, before switching back to super mode for the rest of the day. Note that it’s important you interject your super productivity mode with regular timeout modes/or surf modes. This is called interval training – sticking to super mode for too long will burn you out or actually decrease your capacity for productivity!
Which modes of productivity do you find yourself in most of the time?