It's that time of year again, when billions of Muslims start fasting from dawn until dusk. Ramadan timings depend on the Islamic lunar calendar, which makes it shift around 10 or 11 days every year. So for the last decade, it always happened in the summer when it is very hot and humid where I live. Luckily, summer vacation meant that I didn't have to go to school or university while fasting. This year is my second year fasting while working full time, and I thought I'd share how it's going and the impact it has on me.
Since I live in a majority Muslim country, work hours are reduced by law during Ramadan. The usual 9-hour work day in the private sector is reduced to 7 hours, minus the extra hour or half hour that was for your lunch break. At my current workplace, I was able to choose whether to work 9AM - 3PM or 10AM - 4PM. Being anything but a morning person, I opted to start the day at 10AM. Some companies take it even further and allow for more flexibility, only maintaining that employees work their hours whenever suits them.
Many people report that they can focus better and reach a flow state easier while fasting. Unfortunately, that isn't the case for me! In the last few years, I realized a couple of things about my productivity: I'm pretty slow in the morning, and I get my first burst of energy in the afternoon. Then I really get going and produce my best work late at night.
Because of this, I try to do certain types of work during particular hours. For example, I don't like starting the day with meetings or talking to people. My favorite morning activity is debugging or conducting code reviews because I can just focus on one thing without having to think too much, and I don't have to do any synchronous communication. Then, in the afternoon, I usually get to follow ups and meetings and start coding.
I'm an insomniac and no matter what, I always get a lot of energy close to 10PM. I used to pick up some work tasks at night if I felt I was behind or just didn't have anything better to do. However, since the pandemic started and working from home has been thrust upon us, I've been careful to separate my working hours from my non-working hours.
Now, I wouldn't say I'm necessarily into music, but I only realized how hard it is for me to get into a flow without it last Ramadan. That's because I stop listening to music during the month out of discipline. I experimented with podcasts, audiobooks and those deep focus music videos on YouTubes with no luck. Then, I started playing TV shows and movies in the background just so I can have something to hear, and that helped me focus (and understand and catch up on a lot of pop culture!).
Personally, Ramadan is the only month a year I can maintain a daily routine. That's because every day looks more or less the same: I wake up, work, eat, pray, read and unwind at the same time. Plus, my social calendar gets cleared up, as I don't schedule any appointments and cut back on gatherings and going out. So I grabbed the opportunity and started spending two hours a day on dedicated learning and working on side projects. It's been fun being consistently productive and I hope I'll be able to continue this trend till the end of the month.
Thanks for reading 👋 Until next time.
Cover photo by Rawan Yasser on Unsplash.