How to maintain peak performance and productivity during Ramadan

Others_Productive Muslim women working on laptop Photo: ESB Professional /

You’re a top performer in your company and on top of your game. You’re part of a critical team that is handling a big project for an important client, and all management eyes are on your team to make sure you all deliver the project on time and within budget. Things are going well, and you feel you’ll really ace this project, and then Ramadan happens ... in the summer.

Between the long fasting hours, late night taraweehs, and waking up early to get your last cup of coffee, you’re not yourself at any point in the day. You seem lethargic, slow and a bit moody. Your brain seems like a fog, and you don’t have the mental clarity that you normally do. Your teammates start noticing your slowdown and wondering if you’ll be able to make it with this project. There’s even talk of replacing you as you’re slowing the whole team down.

What do you do?

During such high-stakes moments, it’s easy to blame Ramadan for lack of productivity.

You might find yourself telling your teammates that it’s Ramadan, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Moreover, as Muslims, we have a deeply embedded mindset that tells us that Ramadan is not the month for working hard. If anything, this mindset says, we should try to take it easy, focus on acts of worship, and pick things up after Ramadan. I call this the spirituality-vs-productivity debate, and I address it in detail in my LinkedIn article here.

The case I make in that article is, what if Ramadan were not a choice between being more spiritual and being engrossed in our work? What if Ramadan were a time for true self-reflection on our whole life and a test of what our full human potential is?

So before you blame Ramadan, I want you to consider the following practical advice on how to maintain peak performance and productivity during Ramadan, especially when the stakes are high in your career. You need to manage three things:

1. Manage Your Energy: Be very conscious of what you eat, how and when you sleep, and how often you move around.

a) Stay away from fried and sugary foods, and stick to low-glycaemic index food that burns energy slowly in your body and helps you last longer.

b) Aim to sleep in blocks of time and take 20-minute naps regularly whenever you feel tired.

c) Try to move more during your day. This could mean having more walking meetings or taking the stairs. Movement boosts your energy as much as caffeine does, according to a recent study.

I share more practical tips on how to manage nutrition, sleep, and fitness during Ramadan in this free webinar training here.

2. Manage Your Focus: Choose very carefully what you’ll do and NOT do. Not everything is important in Ramadan, and a good exercise to do at the beginning of Ramadan is to look at all your tasks and ask yourself four questions: what will you (i) do (ii) delete, (iii) defer, or (iv) delegate? (This is inspired by the work of productivity guru David Allen in his book Getting Things Done).

3. Manage Your Time: If you take care of your energy and focus, the third step is to ensure that you schedule tasks according to your levels of energy and focus during the day. For example, you might be more energetic and focused in the morning, which is a good time to tackle hard, challenging tasks, and leave easy and less mentally demanding tasks, like calls, admin paperwork, and PowerPoint design, to the afternoon.

Peak performance during Ramadan is all about making smart choices with your energy, focus, and time so that you maximize your potential in the month of Ramadan.

By proactively making these smart choices, you’ll be able to take important projects during Ramadan whilst still balancing your spiritual and family commitments. So choose wisely, and don’t blame Ramadan for choices you make.

Mohammed Faris is an international coach, author, and speaker who helps executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs rebalance their lives spiritually, physically and socially to achieve peak performance and live meaningful lives. He’s the founder of and author of The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity.

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