Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and it is when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunset to sunrise. Ramadan is perhaps the most difficult time for any Muslim seeking to be productive. Not only are we expected to continue with our normal lives (work, studying, family needs) but we must also spend the day in a fasting state and attend night prayers and keep on top of Quran recitation. It can be difficult to balance all these responsibilities, but it is very doable.
Whilst being starved of the things which usually give you energy, the question arises: Does fasting kill your productivity?
The two seem to be complete opposites, after all, how can you focus and be productive when you’re hungry and thirsty the whole day? However, there are some interesting reasons to say otherwise.
It is not only until you fast do you realise how much time you spend taking those 15–30 minute breaks to eat, and then we have to get back into the mentality to focus again and those little resets really add up. Fasting allows you to enter deep work for a longer period without being interrupted by those bursts of hunger or thirst.
In the first few days of fasting, you will become more conscious of the habitual things you do which may be killing your spiritual and daily productivity. This is because fasting makes us more conscious of Allah and ourselves.
“The ‘consiousness’ of Allah and ourselves enables us to eliminate unproductive behaviours simply because we are more aware and catch ourselves doing it” — Jihan Anwar
Now that we better understand how spiritual, physical and social productivity is linked to Ramadan, how can we spend the last few weeks of the holy month to improve these aspects of our life?
You’re going to have fluctuations in your energy during the day as you fast, therefore, you need to understand your productivity heat map. If you’re a morning person and/or have a job or school to attend, post-sehri might be a good time for you to get those important tasks done before you attend that non-negotiable.
If you’re an evening person and/or have time off that ‘non-negotiable’, it might be ideal to back-load your day and get your important work done during these hours before sehri.
This Ramadan I have seen the power of doing my important tasks in the evening after Taraweeh. As I’m off from university, I have the freedom to stay up throughout the night and work on my Islamic studies during the day without the guilt of leaving one behind.
The ‘30 or 50-day productive challenges’ are becoming more popular on social media where you see influences try to maintain a habit for 30+ days. Ramadan is essentially a built is ‘30-day challenge’ into your lifestyle where you are encouraged to develop new habits through this month. So, don’t only fast, but alongside working on your ibadah (worship), use the spiritual energy from Ramadan to start a new habit in these last few weeks which you can use outside of Ramadan too.
When you lose the distractions of lunch and snack breaks, it opens a new world of structure to your day but being able to improve your productivity around Salah. Before you make a list of the tasks you need to get done that day, Write down the 5 daily prayers and spaces in between.
Then, fill in those tasks around those daily prayers and watch how your day flows with so much more structure than before. You will have a timed goal to reach for the next salah and you will see your spiritual and physical productivity skyrocket.
“Next year I’ll do better. Next year comes and it’s the same story. The following year comes… and it’s still the same. 5, 10, 15 years pass and your Ramadan is barely different than last year” — Muhammed Faris
Allow the end of Ramadan to be a beginning for new habits inshallah!
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