People find being productive hard during Ramadan for various reasons: e.g. I am tired, I work too much, I have no time, etc. The month gets blamed, when we only have ourselves to blame.
Ramadan is the month of actions – the sahabah used to prepare all year to take action in this month. Excuses will always be made; however, by following a few simple steps, and making the intention that you want to be productive, you can make your Ramadan more productive!
Build the intention inside yourself – if the past Ramadans have not been pleasant or fruitful, and you promise yourself that you will not let this Ramadan pass by passively, then follow along as we share some advice and tips.
Why is it hard to be productive to in Ramadan?
- Lack of focus – long hours, and hunger
- Lack of balance – the schedule changes (upside down)
- Lack of energy – we don’t eat for long hours and then we stuff ourselves, which makes our energy levels go haywire – not to mention how sleep gets effected
So in terms of a productive Ramadan, we must learn how to keep focus, keep our lives balanced, balance and keep up our energy levels.
Ramadan is a school. See the following advice to suit your own personal life, whether you are a mother or a student or a working professional.
Planning: Ramadan needs planning
- Intentions. Productivity in Islam starts with intentions, not (as it’s often misunderstood) with actions. So to start, ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve in this Ramadan?” What outcome do you want to achieve in all aspects of your life – work, family, and spiritual?
- Understand yourself and your schedule. Here’s a simple exercise: write an hour-by-hour what you do. You may think you did 5 hours of work when in fact you did 30 minutes, and most of the time was wasted! We think we spend enough time doing things when we’re really not doing anything. If you need help, see if someone can help you, or maybe use software to help (e.g. rescue time or toggle.com).
After a few days, you will be shocked to see the results. It’s not a problem of not having time; it’s a problem of valuing your time.
Examine your schedule, and note what activities (distracting activities) can be taken out during the month to be replaced with more productive actions, like reading Quran.
3. Manage your energy levels. When are you most focused, active, and productive? Do important tasks in those times when you are most focused. Morning hours, after fajr, are especially blessed.
Three types of productivity:
- Physical: body, health, diet, and sleep
- Social: family, community, and the ummah
- Spiritual: developing oneself
Islam combines these three elements: take prayer for example, with the making of wudu and standing in a congregation. Fasting, meanwhile, teaches you discipline.
So how can you build these 3 elements in your day-to-day life?
- Managing your sleep:
i. Understand the concept of sleeping for dunya vs. sleeping for the akhira
ii. Understanding sleep cycles should help as well. Calculate how long your cycle is, and plan to wake up at the end of one because you will wake up more refreshed. So plan multiples of 1.5 hours sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of a cycle is very tiring.
iii. Power naps! Take a 20min nap during midday, wherever you are; you don’t have to lie down. Close your eyes. It will feel like 4 refreshing hours of sleep. Take as many as you like during the day.
- Managing your nutrition
i. You are what you eat: this is proven by research, so you need to be conscious about what you eat (a good book on the subject is The Way We Are Working is Not Working – it tells you the impact food has on you, etc.) Check productiveramadan.com to learn about which foods you should eat.
Your body is a machine: if you treat and manage it well, it should function just fine. So if we learn to manage our sleep and nutrition, then fasting should not be too hard.