Saturday, 13 February 2010

Ideal Work Schedule for a Productive Muslim

If I could design my own work hours, what would be my ideal work hours be?
The above thought crossed my mind early on and I wrote the following on the ProductiveMuslim FaceBook wall:

"Ideal Work Schedule for a ProductiveMuslim: Start work After Fajr (let's say 6am), work till Duha time (10am) for 30 minute break. Start work again at 10.30am till Dhuhur (12.30pm). By now you would have done 6 hours. At Dhuhur break for Salat, followed by "light" lunch, followed by a 20 minute nap (let's say that takes 2 hours), so you start at 2.30pm. Continue working till 4.30/5 and that's it! What do you think?"

So let's break this down a bits:
Start work after fajr: I think we've established this fairly well here on We've said on a few occasions that there's blessing in working after fajr, as a result of the dua of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) who asked Allah to bless this Ummah in its early hours. We've also narrated the story of the Companion who was a merchant, who took heed of this dua, and used to send his trade in the early hours and who became very wealthy as a result! So we would definitely want to start from Fajr!

Work till Duha and break for 30 minutes: Working one stretch from 6am till 12.30 is a bit too much, so I thought I would include a break. And what better way to spend your break then to perform Duha prayers :). The Prophet (saws) said: "In the morning every single joint of yours must pay a sadaqa. Every tasbih is a sadaqa, every tahmid is a sadaqa, every tahlil is a sadaqa, every takbir is a sadaqa, every commanding good is a sadaqa, and every forbidding evil is a sadaqa, and all this is accomplished through two rak`ats one can pray in Duha." Duha prayer (also known as mid-morning prayer) is an extra prayer that one can do to gain the above reward, the time for it is between 30 minutes after sunrise till 30 minutes before Dhuhur, to be safe, I'd pray it bang in the middle of the morning between fajr and Dhuhur. I cannot describe to you the feeling of praying Duha, it truly sets your day straight if done before going to work (given our 9-5 culture), but imagine if it's embedded into our work culture!

Continue work till Dhuhur for prayer, light lunch and power nap: The order of these 3 activities was a bit tricky, which one do you go first? I've tested different orders in my life and I believe the order that works most effectively is praying Dhuhur first, then going for a "light" lunch (I stress light lunch because anything heavier and your nap will turn into a 4 hour sleep!), followed by a 20 minute power nap!

I just want to pause here and think of how useful the power nap is to your life and spiritual life. Let's say you are those who observe the Night Prayer (Tahajjud) so you wake up really early around 3am-4am and you pray tahajjud, then it's fajr salat, then (given the above work schedule) you start work after fajr till Dhuhur. By this time, your body will be tired if it doesn't have rest. Even if you don't wake up for Tahajjud, if you want to have some energy left when you return home around 5pm, you need power naps! Otherwise, you'd go home and all you want to do is shut the world and sleep, and that's not fair for your family. Power naps are crucial for you to get a balanced lifestyle.

At 2.30pm continue working till Asr/Maghreb: Initially I said work till 4.30/5.00, but that's because I've been conditioned with the notion that one has to work 8 hours per day! But what if we change that, and instead we ask people to work till Asr or Maghreb (they can choose), that should give us a total working hour from Fajr of 7-9 hours! You'd be surprised that when people are given flexibility, they normally would stay longer, because they don't feel they've "done" their hours, but feel they'll only stay when they need to.

That's it, I guess. A new work schedule in one post! The aim of the above work schedule is to make your work fit around your ProductiveMuslim's life, not other way around. But I'm interested in your thoughts: What do you think? Do you think it is an unachievable concept? Is there a company out there, no matter how small, who's ready to experiment this and tell us if it works! I've to admit, the above would need an entire company culture that's focussed on Deen or majority who are, as those are the ones who'll appreciate it more. Having said that, I'm sure even non-Muslims wouldn't mind trying this concept (especially a 2 hour lunch break with power naps!!)
Let me know your thoughts.