When you work from home, maintaining productivity is a huge challenge.
There are so many things around the house throughout the day that can upset the balance you try so hard to maintain. The blessed month of Ramadan is upon us, and with it comes even more responsibility, considering the specific obligations we are required to fulfill.
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwaa.” [2:183]
During this blessed month, Muslims all over the world engage in ibadah which includes fasting and seeking Allah’s mercy and forgiveness. The key to maintaining a regular working schedule and meeting your religious obligations is preparation. Here are 5 tips to help busy professionals and their families prepare for a productive, successful Ramadan.
1. Set clear goals along with specific action steps
I set some very specific spiritual goals around my home-based business goals during the month of Ramadan. Some are daily goals like making an effort to be on time for each prayer, reading at least one juz of the Qur’an a day or participating in nightly Taraweeh prayers. Weekly goals may include limiting time-wasting activities such as time spent on the computer and watching television. Monthly goals can be more long-term like correcting a negative character trait or hosting an iftar in your home. Your goals should be specific, realistic and measurable in some way to help gauge your progress toward meeting the goal.
One strategy to assist you in meeting a goal such as reading the entire Qur’an is to map your planned process from beginning to end. Look at your calendar and figure out how long it will take you to read the entire Qur’an by the end of Ramadan. There are 30 ajiza and 30 days of Ramadan, so write down your commitment to read one juz daily. It’s important to actually write or schedule this time on your calendar because it helps reinforce your commitment to reaching your goal.
2. Plan ahead
There’s an old saying: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”Think about everything you want to accomplish for the day and create a plan to make it happen. Make a simple ‘to do’ list that includes everything you want to accomplish for the day and week. For example, meal planning a week or so in advance can be beneficial – especially if you can double the recipe so one meal can be stored away in the freezer for those impossibly hectic days. You can plan a week’s worth of healthy, well-balanced suhoor and iftar meals so you’re not scrambling around for morning and evening meal ideas at the last minute.
A month of family meal planning and preparation seems intimidating, but can be a real time saver, money saver and boost to overall productivity. Start by creating a list of 3 complete meals, two healthy light snacks and any drinks (e.g. lemonade; ice tea) you will be serving every day for the next 30 days. Next, create a grocery list that includes the ingredients required to make every meal and snack on your list. Purchase the ingredients, and set aside one weekend to prepare and cook all of the meals. Wrap the meals carefully in large freezer bags or with freezer paper and store them away in the freezer. Sacrificing one weekend for this is more than worth the time, money and energy you’ll save during the entire month of Ramadan by being able to quickly pull a complete meal from your well-stocked freezer.
3. Prioritize your tasks
When you create your daily ‘to do’ list, prioritize each task based on importance. Managing each task in order of importance will ensure you set aside enough time to handle pressing tasks in a timely manner. You can block aside intervals of time throughout the day for completing certain tasks if necessary. A friend of mine refers to this as ‘time blocking’ and it’s extremely effective. Knowing that you have a designated amount of time to work on a task can do wonders for eliminating distractions and increasing productivity.
Start by making a list of all the activities you need to complete for the day. The tasks don’t have to be listed in any particular order. Next, assign a letter to each task on a scale of “A”– “D” indicating priority. For example, you may put an “A” beside the task of waking your family for fajr and suhor; and assign a “D” for folding the laundry in the dryer because that task can be put off for the next day with no dire consequences. The next day, create a new list. You may decide to give incomplete tasks a higher priority than you did the day before.
4. Keep your family in the loop
Set clear boundaries with your family during work hours so that you’re not disturbed. If your income contributes to your family’s living expenses, you’ll need to effectively meet your work obligations throughout Ramadan so that you can also meet your spiritual obligations and the personal goals you set for yourself.
Sitting down with your family to discuss plans for preparing and participating in Ramadan is a great exercise to help everyone. Are there specific areas you hope to work on improving during Ramadan such as controlling your tongue and temper or not gossiping and backbiting? This is a good time to assess our character and consider any improvements to our character. Discuss the many scenarios that might come up (such as working with gossipy co-workers) and help develop strategies to avoid and/or navigate them. Getting everyone involved increases enthusiasm and reinforces the goals of each individual and the family unit.
5. Stop procrastinating and just do it!
When your life is a flurry of activity, and Ramadan is so close, it’s so easy to keep putting off planning for later; but before you know it, the first day of fasting will be here! The Messenger of Allah said,
“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Bukhari]
It’s not too late yet! Take full advantage of this blessed month and plan ahead for a productive, successful Ramadan so you may reap the rewards Allah has allowed in His infinite mercy.
- Break tasks down into smaller, steps so they don’t seem so insurmountable.
- Map out a timeline for each goal with a designated deadline.
- Spend time with others who inspire you to improve and take action.
- Share your goals with others – they will ask about your progress which helps keep you on your toes.
- Commit to taking action. Your goals mean nothing if you don’t take the steps necessary to reach the desired result.
No more procrastinating – start preparing today!
What other ways would you use to strike a balance between the different aspects of your life? Please share with us in the comments below!