Productivity

10 Time Management Tips for Ramadan

10 Time Management Tips for Ramadan

The countdown has begun and we have less than a month left until the greatest month of the year, Ramadan knocks at our doors! I’m sure by now most of you are stock-piling the goodies for iftaar and downloading as many resources as possible for Ramadan preparation but the question remains “How can I manage my time well enough to get it all done?”

That is what this article is going to assist you with, insha’Allah. Without any further ado, let’s jump right into our Time Management Tips for Ramadan:

1. Plan in Advance

Time Management is divided between planning and application. Without adequate planning, there isn’t anything much to apply and the result is another Ramadan that just flies by. To plan for Ramadan, we need to be clear regarding the goals (Maqasid) of Ramadan, which is to attain taqwa. Therefore, our objective of Ramadan should be an increase in guidance and taqwa.  

2. Calculate how much Ibaadah time you will have daily

Ideally, we all want to spend Ramadan performing acts of worship 24/7, but this isn’t realistic and most of us have other obligations that we need to take care of as well. So work out in advance how much time you will have daily for Ibaadah, then set goals to get that much Ibaadah done. The formula is simple: 24 Hours – (Sleep time, Work Time, Family Responsibility) = Ibaadah time.

If for example, you have 3 hours of ibaadah time, you can schedule in an hour of Qur’an reciting, an hour of studying Islam and an hour for dua and Dhikr. You can really get a lot done if you stick with this formula for the entire month.

3. Set Clear Goals

Now that you know how much Ibaadah time you have available daily, the next step is to set S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T means that the goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For example,  if your goal is to study some Tafsir this Ramadan, the problem with this goal is that it is too vague (which Tafsir), not measurable (How many pages), and not attainable or realistic (does one page of Tafsir fulfil the goal or five books of Tafsir?).

A S.M.A.R.T goal would be: I want to complete studying this 800 page book of Tafsir this Ramadan. In order to complete 800 pages in 29 days, I need to read an average of 28 pages a day.

4. Allocate time for each goal:

Now that your goals for Ramadan are clearly defined and you know how much time you have daily for Ibaadah, the next step is to combine this by allocating specific times daily for chasing each goal. Eg: If you have the goal of reading 30 pages of Tafsir daily and that will take you an hour, and you know that you have an hour a day free every evening before Tarawih, then allocate that time to be your Tafsir time. Set a specific time of the day for reciting Qur’an (perhaps before or after Fajr), making dua (before Iftar), having a family Halaqa (after Asr or after Tarawih) and any other goals you are working towards.

5. Utilize the early hours of the morning:

In Summer countries, Suhoor is quite early and many people can’t wake up too early before it. In that case, I recommend utilizing an hour after Suhoor for Ibaadah. In Winter countries, Suhoor is quite late, so waking up an hour before it is easier. In such countries, I recommend waking up an hour earlier and dedicating that time to Qiyam Al-Layl (Tahajjud), dua and reciting Qur’an. The early mornings are known having Barakah (blessings) and it is a time when we are not pre-occupied with work and family obligations. Use it!

6. Schedule in a family Halaqa:

Ramadan is the perfect time for the family to bond and grow in Imaan together. The devils are locked up and everybody is more spiritual. This spirituality needs to be nurtured so that we can benefit from it after Ramadan. One way to do this is to establish a family Halaqa (study circle). Read a chapter of an Islamic book (or listen to a lecture) then discuss its contents with each other. Continue this even after Ramadan.

7. Dedicate time daily for Qur’an:

Ramadan is the month of Qur’an and so it is obvious that time must be dedicated daily to Qur’an. In some communities, people recite Qur’an very quickly each Ramadan to get it over with or complete as many Qur’an recitals as possible. Instead of doing this, focus on reciting properly, studying the Tafsir and reflecting on its meanings. This will have a longer lasting effect on one’s Imaan and Taqwa.

8. Avoid Multi-Tasking

This is a general time management tip that applies outside Ramadan as well. Studies show multi-tasking actually slows down productivity and causes sloppy work. Modern time management experts agree that focusing on one task at a time gets the task done faster with better quality than multi-tasking. Don’t try to recite Qur’an, while browsing through Facebook and taking care of a child all at the same time. The same applies to studying Tafsir or making dua. Choose a place, time and situation in which you will have the least distractions and give the act of worship your undivided focus.

9. Fast from excessive socializing

This includes both social media and physical socialization. Ramadan is the month of Itikaf. One of the goals of Itikaf is to take a break from our social lives so that we can focus on our relationship with Allah. If you are unable to make Itikaf, you can still get this benefit in Ramadan by cutting down on socializing and dedicating more time to Ibaadah. Attend a few less Iftaar parties, log into Facebook and Twitter for shorter durations and excuse yourself from unnecessary gatherings.

10. Stay Healthy

You cannot accomplish your goals if you are feeling lazy, weak, agitated or sleep-deprived. Some of us do too much during the first few days of Ramadan and end up without any energy to push on for the remainder of Ramadan. Pace yourself and take care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and staying hydrated.

The average person needs between 6-8 hours sleep a night, so make sure you are getting it, even if it means going to bed a bit earlier. Avoid sugary and oily foods and eat wholesome foods for both Suhoor and Iftaar. Drink a lot of water at night before bed as that will keep you hydrated during the day.

May Allah make this Ramadan a productive and blessed one for all of us. Ameen

We would love to hear time management tips which you follow to get the most out of the blessed Ramadan. Please share in the comments section below. 

To learn more, check out our productivity products, available here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 0 comments
The Spiritual Reality of Islamic Productivity

The Spiritual Reality of Islamic Productivity

What really differentiates Islamic Productivity from other theories of productivity? Definitions are something I always found fascinating. A word could mean three different things to three different people. The definition of productivity is a good example of this.

The materialist would see a day spent in theological discussions as wasted time and unproductive. Yet to the theologian, this is the most productive usage of his time. A businessman may fail to see the value of spending one’s time memorizing an ancient text in a foreign language. But for the Hafez, any time spent memorizing and revising the Quran is the most beautiful and productive usage of his time.

A clash of world views

Islamic ideas operate in a different paradigm from materialistic ideas. This paradigm of obedience to God and preparing for the Afterlife makes the Islamic definition of things very different from modern ideas. Words like success, productivity, time management, and destiny mean very different things to the believer.

Recently, I read some comments from people influenced by modern theories that got me thinking about this topic. One person commented that Muslims are unproductive in Ramadan because fasting causes them to perform poorly at work. Another commented that Muslim women who take care of their families are being unproductive because they are not out there working for money. It is very interesting that both these comments focused on the concept of productivity. This made me realize that our perspective on productivity is very different from other people.

Productivity: An Economic Concept

The standard definition of productivity in most dictionaries indicates the current worldview. Productivity is defined as “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input” (Google) or “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” (Dictionary.com)

These definitions limit productivity to the economic impact of a person’s actions. By such definitions, it is easy to understand why some people view taking care of one’s family or spending a week in a Masjid worshiping the Creator as unproductive. These tasks do not produce goods or services, or lead to the economic advancement of a community. Hence, they are viewed as unproductive by some segments of society.

As Muslims, however, we must be careful not to allow materialistic ideas to influence our understanding of things. A Muslim’s life does not revolve primarily around economic input and output. Work and wealth are simply tools to enhance the quality of life, and not the purpose of life itself. For the believer, there are things that are much deeper than one’s material status; things like piety, spirituality, family, and the Afterlife.

Productivity: A Spiritual Concept

Islam teaches us that this world is a testing ground for humanity. We are constantly being tested in a variety of ways. The primary test is to find the true religion of God, accept it and try one’s best to follow it. Obedience and worship of the Creator is the purpose of life for humanity and that takes precedence over everything else, including work and accumulating wealth.

In light of this, Muslims should not cling to materialistic definitions of productivity. Our goals are different and so our definitions should differ accordingly. For the believer, a life spent in pursuit of wealth and status, at the expense of the Afterlife, is a life wasted, an unproductive waste of existence. The deeds that contribute to our Afterlife, and especially the ones that keep on producing more rewards, these are the truly productive acts.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When the human being dies, his deeds end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.”

Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1631

This narration gives us some insight into the Islamic paradigm of productivity. A believer should strive to build up his or her streams of continuous good deeds i.e. deeds that continue to benefit long after one’s death. Based on this narration, a life spent in raising a righteous child, seeking beneficial knowledge then spreading it, and a life spent in charity, are all truly productive lives.

“Wealth and children are the adornments of the present life. But the things that last, the virtuous deeds, are better with your Lord for reward, and better for hope.”

Quran 18:46

This verse of the Quran conveys the same message. While wealth and children enhance the quality of life, true productivity lies in producing virtuous deeds that last, like raising righteous children or spending a large portion of one’s wealth in charity. The Quran and Sunnah are both full of reminders that the believer should prioritize the Afterlife. This prioritization affects our definition of productivity.

Conclusion: A Spiritual Definition

The life of a Muslim revolves primarily around the worship of God, and investing in the Afterlife. This does not mean that a Muslim does not work for this world. Rather our religion encourages hard work, and frowns upon laziness. But everything has its place, and the Afterlife is a greater priority over this world.

A Muslim works hard in every aspect of his or her life but does so in proportion. More time and energy is spent in serving the Creator and building one’s Afterlife. Yet enough time is spent in earning income to provide a blessed Halal life for one’s family. The believer will work hard at his job but will take a break when it is time to pray. A Muslim will try his best to earn well, but will not compromise on Halal earnings, and will dedicate a portion of his earnings to charity. The believer will make time daily to worship the Creator, spend time with the family, contribute to society, and earn some income while prioritizing the Afterlife over this world.

A life spent investing the Afterlife is not unproductive. It is a blessed spiritual existence full of Barakah (Blessing) and Sakina (Inner Peace). The Muslim who chose seclusion in the Mosque while fasting during the last ten days of Ramadan is truly productive in the sight of God. The Muslim woman who invested her youth in raising her children to be righteous beautiful people is truly productive in the sight of God. The Muslim teenager who spends her evenings memorizing the Quran is truly productive in the sight of God. Never allow a materialistic person to convince you otherwise.

If you found this article beneficial, check out our full range of ebooks here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 3 comments
A Glimpse At My Writing Process

A Glimpse At My Writing Process

Alhamdulillah, I have been writing books for over a decade now. In that period, I have produced over a dozen titles, in various languages. In a few months, I will release my next book; Productivity Principles Of ʿUmar II, if Allah wills it.

In anticipation of the launch of my latest book, I want to share a glimpse at my writing process. I hope this will inspire and assist upcoming authors to adopt productive habits that catapult them into success.

Why I Started Writing?

Let’s start at the beginning. I often get asked why I write books in an era of video and social media. Many people tell me that people don’t read books anymore and that I should focus more on video content.

I disagree with this negative attitude. It is true that there are more people watching videos than reading books these days. But books are still the most valuable resource for those who wish to study a topic in-depth. Books provide a far more immersive educational experience than a YouTube video or Instagram post.

It is very rare for someone to be truly transformed by a YouTube video. Yet every successful person will point you in the direction of a book that changed their life. Books are the lifeblood of real change, and so to make a real impact, writing books is essential.

Another reason I choose to write books is that it is a core feature of the Islamic legacy. Every generation of Muslims has produced outstanding Islamic books that people still benefit from centuries later. Imagine the reward that these authors are accumulating in the grave for producing their books. Should we too want to be a part of this legacy?

The third reason why I write is that it is who I am. Writing is a part of my soul. On the days when I do not write anything, my soul feels agitated and restless. Yet when I am writing, I enter a state of happiness, inner peace, and contentment. I believe it is because my soul is doing what it was created to do. I have been a writer from the time I was a little child. There wasn’t any point in my life in which I did not think that I will one day write a book. So it is only natural that when I grew up, I wrote and published my first book during my early twenties.

My Daily Process

I have a simple daily goal that helps me excel at writing; I write 1000 words minimum every day, besides Sundays.

It may not seem like much but in the long run, it really helps turn writing from a dream into a reality. Writing 1000 words a day is a daily goal, regardless of whether I have a topic to write about or not. This way I maintain the habit and momentum of writing every day even when I am not working on a new book.

So what do I write about?

Anything and everything. Sometimes I may write a blog post. Some days a section of a book I am thinking about writing. Some days a journal entry. And some days just absolute randomness to meet my word count. The goal is to make the habit stick for life. Because of this, I now have a habit of writing a minimum of 1000 words a day. On a good day, I may write 3000-4000 words.

Another important part of this is choosing the right time of the day to write. Morning birds may want to write first thing in the morning. Night owls may prefer to do their writing late at night. I prefer writing in the afternoon when I am in my peak performance state. So every afternoon, from 2 pm to 4 pm I work on my writing projects.

Between having a set time, during my peak performance time, and a set daily minimum, writing had become a habit of mine. Lately, I find myself writing at least 4 to 5 hours day, due to the variety of freelance writing projects I am currently working on.

Finding The Right Topic

Once I get into the habit of writing every day. Eventually, ideas start to come. Sometimes the ideas are not very good and become abandoned first drafts. Other times, they make nice topics for blog posts or articles. Eventually, at least once or twice a year, a big idea will hit me.

When it does, I just know it. I feel an excitement deep down inside, and I just know this is what my next book must be about. When that inspiration hits, the words start to flow. From that day onward, my 1000 words a day is dedicated to the book in my mind until it is completed, which usually takes between two to five months, depending on size and the amount of research needed.

Getting It Done

Once I have my idea for a book, I have a system that makes writing the book much easier. First I write out my idea in as much details as possible, writing it in S.M.A.R.T. goal format. For example, for my next book, I set my goal as; A 350-page book deducting personal development lessons from the life of ʿ Umar II, which I will publish in December, in shaa Allah.

The goal is;
1) Specific: deducting personal development lessons from the life of ʿUmar II
2) Measurable: 350 pages
3) Actionable: 1000 words a day
4) Realistic: I have knowledge about both the life of ʿUmar II and personal development.
5) Time-Bound: Will publish it in December 2019

With my goal crystallized in such details, I then work on my first draft. I also have a detailed system for producing my first draft. I first make a list of chapters. Then I make a separate section for each chapter in the draft file. I then write a few points in each chapter to give me an idea about what I want to write in it.

After that, it is simply a matter of showing up every day, looking at the chapters in my file, deciding which one I want to write, and then turning each of those points into sub-section. I do this for 1000-2000 words a day. Within two months, the first draft is ready. Then editing begins. Within six months, the book is ready for publication, Alhamdulillah.

Building Upon Past Experiences

An important part of my writing process is building upon past experiences. With each book I write, I take note of what worked and what didn’t. I read all the reviews, especially the negative ones and take notes accordingly. I then analyze all the feedback together and work out areas in which I can improve.

If the area of improvement requires training, I take an online course or read a book on the topic. If improvement just requires practice, I use my 1000 words per day to practice for the next month. My goal is to become a better author with each book I write. There is always room for improvement, so I take all feedback seriously, and work daily at becoming a better author.

But I am still working towards my dream

I wrote my first book in 2009. In 2014, I had a dream; I want to be a full-time author. I did not realize how long it takes to make a dream a reality. In 2019, I am halfway towards my goal. These days, I spend half my days working on various writing projects. These include freelance projects, my books, my blog posts, and my online courses. Together, these contribute to around 50% of my monthly income, sometimes more.

To be halfway towards a goal after five years is not bad. It is actually a good thing. It means with a bit more effort, continuous improvement, more books, and some good ideas, I can eventually attain my dream, with Allah’s Help and Permission.

My dream is to spend the rest of my life writing beneficial books and articles, without needing to worry about money. I have one small request; make dua that my dream comes true.

If you want to learn more about my writing, self-publishing and sales process, sign up for my self-publishing online course by clicking here. Over 100 students have studied the course already, and many are already on their way to fulfilling their writing dreams too. Click here to join the course.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, 3 comments
4 Reasons Why I Love Mondays

4 Reasons Why I Love Mondays

I look forward to Mondays. I know that may seem strange and contrary to popular opinion, but I really do love Mondays. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy spending weekends with my family, relaxing and having fun. But at the same time, I often find myself planning my week, thinking up work ideas and gaining excitement to get back to work on Monday.

Why? Well here are a few reasons. Who knows. Maybe, by the end of this, I will convince you to love Mondays too.

1. Mondays are Productive

Mondays are often when I am at my peak creatively. Having rested and enjoyed the weekend, my mind is refreshed, recharged and full of ideas. My mind can’t wait to get started with work. As a result, I get a lot of work done on Mondays, and these tasks end up being of exceptionally high quality. So that is the first reason that I look forward to Mondays. By spending the weekend, resting and recharging, I am recharged and ready to do my best on Monday morning.

2. It sets the tone for the rest of the week

Getting into a state of flow can be tricky, but once you are in it, you can get a lot done in record time. That state of flow can then continue to flow into the next day and the day after. When people begrudgingly start work on Monday in a state of anger, it may take a few days to get into a state of flow. They may only enter this state by Wednesday or Thursday and as a result half the week is lost, every single week. That’s half the year wasting being in the wrong state of mind.

But if someone starts their Monday with excitement and enthusiasm, they can enter a state of flow on Monday. This can then flow throughout the entire week, causing them to be productive every single day until the weekend. Setting the tone for the rest of the week begins with getting high-quality work done on Monday. Do that, and the rest of the week will build upon it.

3. I am grateful for having sources of income

I am grateful that my Creator has blessed me with multiple streams of income. As an expression of that gratitude, I approach my work-week with excitement, love, and happiness. I am happy to work because I appreciate having work to do. I love Mondays because a busy Monday means I am generating income. And I am excited at the possibilities that the week can bring if I begin it in a state of happiness, love, excitement, and gratitude.

4. I love my work

I enjoy the work I do. I love teaching, writing, coaching, counseling and managing people. Every source of income that I have is based on something I genuinely enjoy doing. As a result, I look forward to work, and I am excited to get started every Monday. This makes all the difference in the world. When you love your work, you look forward to work-days. This, in turn, produces high-quality work and opens the doors to even better opportunities. When you find work that you love, you have to love Mondays because you spend it doing something you love.

Conclusion

These are four of the many reasons why I love Mondays. Mondays are productive. They set the tone for the rest of the week. I am grateful to have work to do, and I love my work. These reasons are enough to look forward to Mondays.

If you look forward to Mondays too, post a comment explaining why. If you don’t, I hope this article will inspire you to find a reason to love it.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 0 comments
How to get more out of reading a book

How to get more out of reading a book

Reading often is one of the best habits you can develop. By reading a book a month, you can increase your knowledge at a much faster pace than most people. Reading gives you an edge over those who don’t read.

But not everybody who reads books gets a lot of knowledge out of their books.

For some people, by the time they have finished reading one book, they have forgotten the content of the book they read before that. If you want to avoid falling into this trap, pay attention to the following advice.

1. Have a goal for each book

Before reading any book ask yourself ‘what do I want to get out of this book’ and work towards that goal while reading the book. For example, when you decide to read ‘Getting The Barakah‘ do so with the intention of mastering time management. This will be much more beneficial than just reading it for fun or to just get it over with.

Once you have a goal, you can now focus on trying to achieve that goal. You can put systems in place to measure how close you are to achieving that goal, and to follow up on whether you were able to achieve the goal after finishing the book.

More examples of goal setting when reading a book:
1. I am reading this Tafsir book to get a better understanding of the Quran.
2. I am reading this money management book so that I can become more financially mature.
3. I am reading this fiction book to stimulate my imagination and help me think of new ideas.

2. Engage with the book

This may sound like a weird idea, but it works really well. Every time you come across an important passage in the book that you find hard to understand, take the time to engage with the book. Repeat what you read out loud. Ask questions about what you read out loud. Write down the point in your own words. Engage with the book as if it is a dialogue and you will find yourself benefiting a lot more from reading that book.

For example: If you read a passage explaining a new system of time management, repeat the system out loud by saying, “So what the author is saying is…” If you can complete that sentence in your own words, it means that you have understood the passage well.

If the book is teaching a practical skill like writing or marketing, then take breaks from reading to practice. So you can read for 30 minutes, then practice for 30 minutes in order to make sure you are actually learning the skill.

3. Summarize the book

After completing the book, take some time to write a paragraph or page summarize the core message of the book in your own words. This will help you remember the message of the book long after you have completed reading it. And if you ever forget, you can just read the summary you wrote.

Writing a summary will also help you check whether you truly understood the book or not. If you can recap anything in your own words, it usually means you understood it well. If the book is really dense, then consider writing a summary of every chapter as well.

4. Recommend the book to a friend

If you found a book beneficial, then tell your friends and family about it. After all, if a book is beneficial, it deserves to be read by as many people as possible. But how would this help you remember the book better. Because when recommending the book to someone, you will need to recap the core lessons you learned from that book in order to sell them on it. This serves as a form of revision to further cement the topic in your head.

Are you ready to start reading more beneficial books? Then check out our eBook bundle for the perfect starting package.

Time Management eBook bundle
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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Productivity, 1 comment