It started a week before Ramadan, actually.
People were trying to schedule important meetings the past week, clients pushing against the deadline, and everyone running around like the apocalypse was about to hit us.
Let's face it, with the long fasting hours, and short fasting day, and many non-fasting colleagues taking their annual leaves now, Ramadan may seem like a month where nothing happens.
It may also affect your business. As an entrepreneur, I remember how a couple of years back, I changed my entire work schedule to accommodate the month, from sleeping in during the day, and working my way through the night. My "office hours" started at 7pm and ended with the morning call of prayer at around 4am. I cut that habit last year and I'll tell you how in a bit.
The thing is, if you don't have a strict schedule for yourself, as a business owner you may lose some valuable time that could have been utilised for important business decisions.
Here’s how you can maintain your work schedule, “see people for meetings” and not have your business negatively affected.
It’s all about timings
The fast begins around 4am depending where you are in the Muslim world and lasts until sunset. Given that Ramadan takes place during the summer time, this means that the fast gets more tiring noon onwards. If you need to arrange meetings, or have a presentation to make, I suggest to schedule those before noon, preferably around 9.30am to 11am, when they will be focused.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to schedule them any earlier as many work hours commence at 09:00 and many people attend the night prayers, which leads them to sleeping late. You may also receive some cancellations or reschedules of meetings, but keep an open mind as the month’s a bit intense on many people given how they need to balance a social and a professional life.
Mix work and pleasure
If the above isn't possible during the day, try to combine some work and pleasure. Perhaps you could meet your colleagues, or clients over Iftar, which takes place at sunset. People in general are more accommodating to eating out and meeting with business partners during this time of the year, especially with many outlets throwing lavish banquets, yummy treats, and entertainment for their guests.
Use this time to do admin
Long summer afternoons are actually very useful, especially when it comes to admin tasks. As your energy drops during the day, pass the time by archiving emails, updating your filing system, cleaning up your computer, updating your address book and just doing the things you’ve been delaying all year. You can also have an office clean-up party. Recycle old papers, re-arrange the office decor, and simply just de-clutter.
Time for social work
If you’ve also been thinking about taking a more active role in the community then Ramadan is the perfect time. There are so many ideas to adopt such as organising food drives at your local mosque for those who break their fast there, preparing an Eid kit for those less fortunate that could include a coupon at a retail store where they can buy new clothes for Eid, a coupon at a barber for a haircut, and/or some amenities such as perfume, shavers, etc.
You can also volunteer at a hospital, visit the elderly or
the children at hospitals, or collect some money for your cleaning staff to give them as an Eid gift.
Schedule fitness time
What happens with many throughout the month is that they will pause their fitness routine. Last year, I made it a point to work out every single day. In my case, and this is different for everyone, I found it best to work out an hour before I broke my fast. Not only did it help me lose weight throughout the month of Ramadan and maintain my fitness level, but it made me energetic, and more productive at work.
I also tried as much as I could to not ruin my sleeping pattern, and instead woke up early morning, and worked until mid-afternoon, when my energy levels would start to drop. That way I had more time in the afternoon and evening to spend with friends and family, and enjoy the month's holy rituals.
While work tends to slow down throughout the month, I find that Ramadan provides a unique opportunity to get so much done.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi.