My Work Ethics and Productivity Tips

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Book Writing Post #4

If you haven’t read them yet, these are the links to the earlier posts in this series of my blog on book writing:

Post #1: WHY I’M WRITING THE BOOK (https://muslimandmoney.com/why-im-currently-writing-a-book-about-shariah-compliant-investing-in-the-stock-market

Post #2: INTRODUCING ELZISTYLE BOOK WRITING CLUB (https://www.elzistyle.com/introducing-elzistyle-book-writing-club

Post #3: BOOK WRITING GOAL CLARIFICATION (https://www.elzistyle.com/clarify-your-book-writing-goal

In my previous post, I promised to disclose to you – for the first time – a secret window to my personal work ethics and productivity tips before proceeding to sharing my actual week-by-week implementation of the book writing since March 1. 

First things first.

As a teacher, my function is to kindle FIRE: 

F – Formation of values

I – Instruction 

R – Research 

E – Engagement with the community

Two of them are primary: Instruction and Research.

By performing Instruction (teaching and class instruction), we can also contribute in the formation of values, while Research (writing and translation) which will directly benefit the common people is already a form of engagement with the community.

Research, which includes book writing, involves more profound thinking. In the words of Car Newport, it is a kind of DEEP WORK (https://amzn.to/3Hvy4xB), in contradistinction to what he calls ‘shallow work’. 

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As a kind of DEEP WORK, book writing is best done when the mind is most active, which in my case like most of you, I assume, is the early morning or morning time; hence, the following is my regular weekday schedule:

8-11 am – Research

11 am – 12nn – Minor tasks

2-5 pm – Instruction 

5-6 pm – Minor tasks

8-11 pm – Marketing and edutainment 

As you can see, the first three hours in the morning is devoted to Research (writing and translation) because it is in those hours that I feel most active mentally and physically. 

After devoting the first three hours to the more vital task (Research), that’s the time that I will allocate one hour (11 am to 12 noon) for urgent and vital ‘minor tasks’ such as sending and replying to messages and emails and other follow-ups. 

From 12 noon up to 2 pm is allotted for prayers, lunch, and siesta. It is also during this period of rest and relaxation that I will check my social media accounts and play chess online. 

2-5 pm is blocked for Instruction (making lesson plans, video lectures, textbook reading, etc.) It was also the time for Virtual Assistance works (writing reports, replies to emails, attending webinars and online meetings, etc.) when I was a consultant for a Europe-based International Intergovernmental Organization (2018-2021). 

5-6 pm is another allocation for ‘minor tasks’ as explained above. That is the time for replying to texts and emails received in the afternoon. 

After being done with prayers and dinner (6-8 pm), the remaining hours in the evening (8-11 pm) are assigned to ‘lighter’ works such as marketing my products and services (social media posts, etc.) and edutainment (reading books and watching videos) as a way of ‘sharpening the ax’ (continuous learning).

Before retiring to bed, I do daily journaling to review the things accomplished on that day and to plan for the next day’s tasks on the basis of what is vital and urgent. 

Productivity TIps

After revealing to you my regular daily weekday schedule, let me share with you some productivity tips for writing and/or translating an average of four books every year, not to mention a number of articles and blog posts.

1. Clean table

Before eight in the morning, I see to it that my table is free of items other than my computer and a piece of paper for taking notes for ideas and tasks. I can’t work in a cluttered workspace. I also have a preference for a wide space or a spacious room wherein I can freely walk around while thinking about what to write. 

2. Blocking 3 hours for writing

I have mentioned earlier that I do block 8-11 am from Monday to Thursday exclusively for writing. During this period, I do not intentionally do other things such as checking emails or scrolling down social media feeds. 

As the saying goes, “Play when you play, and work when you work.”

3. Setting alarm every hour 

Aside from blocking 3 solid hours for writing the book, I also set my mobile phone’s alarm each hour – 8 am, 9 am, 10 am, and 11 am. This is meant to force myself to accomplish something within every hour. For example, when the alarm rings at 9 am, I can check myself how many paragraphs I’ve finished writing, if ever I’ve actually written one. And when the last alarm rings at 11 am, I can evaluate myself how many pages I’ve finished writing, if ever I’ve really finished writing a page.   

4. Taking a break every hour

Another purpose of the hourly alarm is to take a 5-minute break by standing and taking a walk after an hour of sitting and doing some light exercises. 

(In case you’re curious to know what light exercises I regularly do, just drop a comment in the Comment Section below or send me a private message.)

5. Put away my mobile phone

Writing is a kind of ‘deep work,’ which requires a great amount of concentration and focus, which in turn demands the absence of distraction. And as you may agree with me, the most notorious gadget of distraction is our smartphone. 

As such, when writing, it’s my routine practice to put away my phone. And if ever I tolerate its existence on my table, it is intentionally placed upside down so that I could not see the message or social media notifications popping up on its screen. This is the most ‘minimal’ way of practicing what Car Newport described as ‘DIGITAL MINIMALISM (https://amzn.to/3uuSYcC).

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(I have also touched upon this subject in an earlier blog on time management and book reading, https://muslimandmoney.com/how-to-have-daily-luxury-of-time-for-readingpart-2-of-2.) 

These are some of the productivity tips which proved to be very useful for me for years. 

Just let me know which of these tips you find most difficult to follow and why.

In the next blog, insha’ Allah, I will share with you the actual status of writing the book, HOW TO SHARI’AH-COMPLIANTLY INVEST IN THE PHILIPPINE STOCK MARKET: BEGINNER’S STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE, during the first two weeks (first half of March 2022).

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If you want to receive this blog series on behind-the-scenes access to my book writing process, challenges, and milestones, just get your FREE Membership of ElziStyle Book Writing Club here: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/z7b1c8 

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