The second half of Ramadan is probably the hardest to get through. Your overall zeal for the month’s festive nature is depleted and the work you have been procrastinating till you get used to the Ramadan “pace” is catching up with you, yet all you’re getting used to are all the new flavors of Konafa, a sleep-deprived schedule and an ongoing battle with time.
So, the last few days, what do you think: productivity in Ramadan be damned? Or do you want to try battling it out with us?
Why Ramadan has a time management imperative?
Looking at this from every angle, we figured the more the minds on the project, the better our odds. So we widened the pool bringing in most of the office and our friends on our quest of how best to combat our lazy nature in Ramadan.
With our thinking caps on, a colleague drew our attention to a vital point: David Allen, creator of the world-famous Getting Things Done system, has explained that when we want to do anything at any given moment, there are four criteria which should determine our choices: context, time available, energy, and priority.
Applying that to Ramadan, you will find yourself put in a context where time and sleep are your enemies. Given how time and sleep are the pillars for productivity, achieving the same daily goals/tasks in these conditions needed us to put our thinking hats on and give everything a major rethink.
Don’t follow general hacks; stick with a rethink
We spent the first two weeks of Ramadan invested in making our Ramadan as productive as could be. We were very hands-on and tried every hack possible to boost or maintain productivity. But we still couldn’t really reach our desired results. We found all hacks to be either ineffective or unrealistic to maintain for more than a couple of days.
Even after finding helpful tips that made fasting on the job easier to bear, it still bore no significance to our productivity throughout the day. We just felt like we need more.
Then it dawned on us: maybe it’s less about finding a specific hack and more about adapting to the major obstacles we faced day after day, which were of course that we need more time and sleep. Trying to manage or reduce the pain and discomfort the lack of both caused us in a healthy/productive manner was our key to deciphering this time/sleep imperative.
Obstacle 1: Time
Ramadan is not devouring your time; it’s just shifting your priorities. Now more personal and spiritual time is taking up chunks of your total time each day. Your usual working-by-the-clock nature is hard to maintain as it is but it’s even harder during this month.
Get started on time blocking
- Start with your workday: first identify your priorities for the day and then break them into actionable tasks.
- Make sure to be very specific with your tasks and schedule out everything from meetings, phone calls, and writing/replying to emails to the actual projects and any work that includes you being on your desk.
- See how many hours of actual work you do each day and start scheduling specific tasks and meetings for specific time periods. Make sure that your goal is to finish a specific task in the time appointed and not just work by the clock.
- Then comes the personal time blocks. Schedule your time with your family, kids, or friends. Map out all your personal activities from workouts to naps to meal times.
- Exclude your commute and any breaks from that time and give them their own time blocks.
- Account for any wasted time, and try to take advantage of your now empty coffee and bathroom breaks.
- Leave an empty block for flexibility. We all know that nothing can go according to plan minute by minute. So it’s better to make your schedule flexible rather than try and account for lost time later.
- Block the time when you are most productive for your hardest tasks. We did a little recon and found that in Ramadan your highest energy levels will depend on which sleep schedule you choose to adopt. That’s why adopting a suitable sleep schedule during this month can do wonders for your productivity
Obstacle 2: Sleep
We know how tricky this one can get. So instead of preaching about how sleep is important or trying to box you into a certain pattern, we are simply going to present you with alternative sleep schedules that might fit the nature of Ramadan better.
7-9 hours of sleep each night
This is the standard and most common sleep cycle. It consists of sleeping from 7 to 9 hours each night. This means if you have to wake up at 6, you must go to bed at 11 at the latest.
- Minimal risk of sleep deprivation
- Requires a relatively large amount of uninterrupted sleep
- Inconvenient with professionals with late shift patterns
5-6 hours at night + one nap
If you want more flexibility, this one consists of a split sleeping pattern. You get to sleep from 5 to 6 hours each night and take one nap midday.
- Napping improves memory and cognitive functions
- Can provide a boost on tiring days or one when you’re sleep-deprived
Adopting either the monophasic or biphasic cycles entails that you
- have an early Sohor.
- do most of your heavy work early in the morning from 6 AM till 12 PM.
But what about on the days where you want to stay up late for the company and high spirits of Ramadan? We have sleep schedules for these as well.
3.5 hours of core sleep at night + three 20 min naps
With this one, you sleep after Sohor getting a total of 3.5 hours of sleep and you need to find every chance possible to fit three 20 minute naps in your day so you don’t stay exhausted and unproductive for the whole day.
- Longer waking hours
- Flexibility on when to nap
- Minimal sleeping time
Four 30 min naps throughout the day
This one is a bit extreme and we don’t recommend you do it often but it can help in the most crucial of times. Dymaxion basically means “maximum gain of advantage from minimal energy input.” With this one, you get only 2 hours of sleep in total which can be exhausting and unhealthy if done regularly. So let’s call it the “break in case of emergency” sleep cycle.
- Most waking hours of any cycle
- 6-hour waking period with only 4 naps to adapt
- Most difficult cycle to adapt to
Adopting either the everyman or Dymaxion cycles entails that you
- find convenient times throughout your day to nap. We recommend those aforementioned coffee and bathroom breaks as well as any transportation time available.
- do most of your heavy work after your scheduled naps or sleep.
Having an action plan to adapt to the major obstacles that are time and sleep won’t only help you reach a healthy high-energy Ramadan, but it will also help your long-term productivity.
And instead of viewing Ramadan’s last few days as wasted, how about adopting the work-smart-not-hard narrative? You don’t need to change yourself or wait for the month to end. Instead, try to cope with Ramadan’s nature as it is.
We know you are probably bombarded with productivity hacks by now, but how about trying our rethinks instead?