What is it about Mondays?
We take it as a given, that at some point on Sunday a sense of gloom and anxiety will settle in as we think about the week ahead. Even if we like our jobs and the people we work with. Crazy, isn’t it?
Research conducted on the subject of the Monday Blues gives us a variety of intriguing information—from the fact that people’s moods are not any lower on Monday compared to other days, to the theory that it’s not Mondays we’re reacting to but change, as we transition into the workweek, according to a New York Times article, “Mondays Aren’t As Blue As We Think.”
One of the best ways to set yourself up for a great Monday is to give yourself weekends that rejuvenate and restore you. With some organizing and planning, you can greet Monday with open arms, and increase your productivity in the workplace. Here are seven tips for you:
1. Save energy for your weekends.
A lot of people work themselves into the ground over the week, leaving themselves nothing more than a two-day couch potato on the weekend. Do whatever you can to avoid this—you want to spend Saturday and Sunday with enough energy to actually do fun things and have a functioning mind that can think creatively about work and your life. A couple of habits to cozy up to:
- Do you ever stay at work for an extra hour or two trying to “finish something up,” when in truth you work in circles and don’t accomplish anything super meaningful? Stop doing that.
- If you’re not actively moving your project or the business forward in any significant way and it’s well after 5 p.m., call it quits. Save your energy for the next day. Think of it like exercise: Those two extra miles you run today might put you over the edge so you can’t run tomorrow.
2. Use Friday afternoon to prepare for Monday.
It’s amazing how much you can forget in those 60-plus hours between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. To hit the ground running on Monday morning, a few suggestions:
- Write yourself a Monday to-do list that explains where you left off on a task, or what’s next.
- Write a more detailed note about what you were working on—what was going well, what you were excited about accomplishing or capturing, what you want to go back and redo, or an idea you wanted to pursue.
- Make your note encouraging and motivating, rather than a marching-order list of to-dos. (Remember, this is for your eyes only. What will get you pumped up on Monday?)
- Better yet, use your project planning software to create a Monday task and update it at the end of every Friday (or at an appointed weekly time). You can include a to-do list, as well as a more descriptive note, as a comment.
- Even better, name that task, “Happy Monday you gorgeous creature!”
3. Plan the right mix of weekend activities and events.
As a rule, you’ll have the most satisfying weekend if you mix in a combination of physical activity, family and friend time, scheduled activities and open time. You know better than anyone what works for you and your family—and how that might vary by season, weather and life circumstances. Crafting a restorative and fun weekend takes planning. In Laura Vanderkam’s book, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, she offers these six secrets of successful weekends:
- Do an activity that brings you a lot of joy.
- Use your mornings for personal pursuits.
- Create traditional weekend activities.
- Schedule downtime.
- Make time to explore and have adventures.
- Plan something fun for Sunday night.
4. Use the weekend to get ahead.
Super ambitious professionals use their weekends to advance their careers and businesses. With less structured (and uninterrupted) days, there’s time for creative thinking, brainstorming and problem-solving. Also, not to step on your work-life balance commitment (we’re all for it), but if you left work on Friday with a tsunami of work breathing down your neck, tucking in a few hours of work on an uninterrupted Saturday afternoon might be just what you need to feel good about starting your workweek.
5. Don’t waste your Sundays.
Isn’t it crazy that we can spend so much time on Sunday dreading Monday? Here are two very different ways to spend your Sunday evenings:
- Plan some evening fun. For some of us, Sunday evenings are sacred do-nothing nights. But if you schedule an early dinner with friends, a movie date, or an evening picnic at a park, then you give yourself a positive focus for the day.
- Spend a few hours planning your Monday. For some people, diving into their workweek on Sunday evening is a highly productive and satisfying use of their time. For managers and leaders, you give yourself a leg up on everything that meets you Monday morning, and you can see what’s expected of your team. There’s an incredible amount of time wasted on Mondays simply catching up on where you left off the previous week. You can avoid hours of this if you prepare on Sunday evening. And you’ll wake up Monday morning feeling calm.
6. On Monday, pace yourself.
You don’t have to move mountains or work a 12-hour day. A week is like a long-distance event. Go out too hard, you’ll be spent by Thursday. As an incentive, plan something fun on Monday—lunch out with a colleague, splurge on a favorite coffee drink, little easy things. It doesn’t take much to perk up a mood.
7. Don’t give in to the Monday story.
If, as the New York Times article suggests, Blue Mondays are a myth, then try an experiment. Pretend you love Mondays. When the anxiety creeps in on Sunday, tell yourself you’re perfectly OK with everything. See what happens if you create a new belief system for yourself about Mondays. Because if you really think about it—Mondays are nothing more than another day of the week, where anything can happen, even greatness.
What are your Monday strategies?