I wrote this for ProductiveMuslim.com.
While we are cleansing our souls and bodies during Ramadan, why not take this opportunity to cleanse our schedules as well? Ramadan is the perfect time to go lean and cut away the unnecessary activities that lead us to a reduced state of productivity.
Now that’s a broad area to handle. So in this article we will just look at freeing up chunks of time that are taken by our various technology addictions. Perhaps some of it is not really addiction but obligation rather. Yet there might be ways that we’re wasting our time even with these “obligatory” activities. Take a look and see if you can apply some of the following tips.
Phone calls can take a large chunk of our time. Try to reduce the habit of answering EVERY phone call and instead focus on incoming calls of those you really need to speak to. For everyone else, set up a voice message service on your phone so they can leave a message if it’s really urgent. When you have to make a phone call, plan what you want to get out of the call in advance so that you don’t get sidetracked and waste time.
Turn off your mobile phone/Blackberry/Tablet when you’re not using them
Yes that’s right. As painful as it may seem at first, just get used to turning them off when you sit down to recite the Quran or engage in some Dhikr or go to the mosque. Turn them off when you go to sleep so that your short resting time isn’t shortened further by inconsiderate callers or bleeping notifications.
Prune your RSS
If you’ve been letting your RSS subscriptions overflow, now would be a good time to go through them and unsubscribe from the ones which have ceased to provide any value for you. Keep only beneficial RSS that will boost your eman and productivity during Ramadan (e.g. ProductiveRamadan.com! ;)).
Have mercy on your Inbox
Set up filters and/or folders to neatly separate your e-mail. That way you can leave the unimportant e-mails for later or just trash them all in one go. Unsubscribe from newsletters and notifications that you hardly cast a second glance at. Use the ‘delete’ button freely.
Reduce Facebook frequency
This doesn’t just apply to Facebook. Reduce the frequency with which you log in to any social networking service. Resist the temptation to “be in the know” about everything that’s happening in your circle of friends 100% of the time. Ease off from forums, Myspace, Twitter, etc. I’m not suggesting that you drop these completely. I’m suggesting that you allocate time once or twice a week for these activities instead of engaging in them every day. Sort your friends and followers into ‘lists’ so that you can easily check on the most important people and avoid the larger stream for when you have more time. Step into your privacy settings area and reduce the number of notifications that you have allowed so that you don’t get bogged down by these unnecessarily.
Use technology to keep you on the technology diet
Make use of distraction prevention software or Internet blocking software to keep you focused on your current task and curb the urge to surf for “just a little while”. We all know how easy it is to get lost on the Web through one click after another once we give in to this urge. Try out options like Read It Later or Ghoster to help you overcome distractions.
Don’t waste those tiny gaps of time on technology
The time that you spend waiting in queues or while traveling; should not be spent sending that tweet or updating your Facebook status, rather it should be spent on some silent dhikr or dua, or just some spiritual reflection. Perhaps you could listen to some Quran on your phone/mp3 player and get ahead on your recitation/memorization.
Let people know
It helps if people know that it’s a special month and that you won’t be available all the time as before. This way, you can cut down on distractions, that are coming from outside. How you communicate this is up to you – be it through status messages on your chat client or status updates on your social networking websites or just by saying it directly – just make it known politely.
Enjoy flicking the switch off on technology for the month (at least partly). Don’t worry—the world can wait.