To be productive in a fast-paced environment can be consuming. How does a productive day begin one might ask? Well-rested. Focussed. Early.
The workplace is busy. Period. It is important to realise that productivity is more about individuality than the number of tasks completed, which can mean burn out if you’re not careful but don’t confuse that for ignoring targets/goals. Goal setting is just as necessary.
Let’s start with how the day begins. Firstly when does one rise? With the sun. As clocks entered into British Summer Time recently, sunrise is after 6.30 am enabling us to start early. Fajr and morning adhkar. As Fajr is just after 5 am which means we have a head start to most. Prayer is better than sleep after all.
When we first wake in the morning, we are in the alpha brain waves part of sleep which separates in patterns or waves when we sleep. These alpha waves are not only related to sleep but interestingly, this relaxation of the nervous system allows increased creativity, perhaps by allowing a calmer mind. It is also achieved by meditation and mindfulness. So in a nutshell, lay off the phone first thing in the morning.
Get some movement into your day by exercising, aim for half an hour every day. A brisk walk in the morning sun for some vitamin D. This can be broken up into chunks throughout the day if that’s more feasible. Maybe after fajr. Plan, plan, plan your day. Make a to-do list. Prioritise. Discipline your distractions. This is essential, especially for important tasks. It prevents time being wasted and allows allocation to work/prayer/rest/family etc. Pray on time. It also makes goal setting/achieving more manageable by making the most of your time. And as our beloved Rasulullah (SAW) said ‘tie your camel first, and then put your trust in Allah SWT’.
Be sure to remain hydrated and eat nutritionally balanced meals. Aim to eat three meals a day with two snacks, at mid-morning and mid-afternoon, if you feel you need them. Pair protein/healthy fats with half a plate of vegetables prior to carbs as this prevents blood glucose lows post meals and energy dips. Have 2 litres of water a day which can include herbal teas and fruit-infused water. Whole fruits have fibre, paired with nuts are good for healthy digestion so you won’t feel sluggish. Avoid starches/white carbs/simple sugars/junk food which will cause energy highs and lows. Limit caffeine after 4 pm if you want to be in bed by 10pm. Have your last meal at least three hours before bed allowing normal digestion, cells to renew and prevent insomnia.
Work hard and rest.
‘If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit’ – Banksy.
Work/life balance is key. Downtime is important to manage stress levels and maintain physical and mental wellness. Constant stressors raise cortisol, the stress hormone, which can a negative impact on the body. Effects include burnout, weight gain, anxiety and high blood pressure. Engage in relaxation for the mind and body through yoga, journaling, bath, breathwork. Gratitude or shukr and hamd have been proven to improve health as the hormone oxytocin is released enabling us to connect with one another and Allah SWT. Say alhamdulilah often. One small thought in the morning can change your whole day.
Esha. Adhkar. Bedtime. Need a snack? A banana will suffice as a pre-bedtime bite to eat as it has tryptophan which induces sleep, with almond butter it supports melatonin production, which influences sleep. This is highest at around 10 pm meaning you should be winding down an hour prior to that. Minimise blue light exposure as this blocks melatonin signals and prevents our natural sleep/wake cycles. Aim to get 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleeping late is against the sunnah as one needs to wake early to receive the barakah of the morning.
All’s well that’s ends well. A good day will have passed Insha Allah. Remember rizq is written.
‘Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things’ [65:3]
…but that doesn’t mean that we do not try our utmost. Another day, another breath.