Why Mondays Suck and 8 Ways to Make Them More Productive
Here's how to banish the Sunday Scaries and make your Mondays more tolerable.
My weekend was pretty solid. The weather was perfect, and I got to catch up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. But late Sunday afternoon, I got in a little bit of a rut. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to Monday and the upcoming week. I don’t even know why. There wasn’t anything that I was dreading.
It’s not uncommon for people to have a bad case of the Mondays. Your sleep schedule and diet are off. There’s also an emotional shift going from the weekend to the new workweek. Weekends are fun and filled with activities that we enjoy doing. Monday, however, represents going back to work and having to do the stuff that we don’t always want to do. Considering that 70 percent of people hate or are “completely disengaged” from their job, this only makes Mondays even worse.
A study shows that stock market returns are lower, and suicide rates are higher on this particular day of the week. No wonder our feelings can confirm that data — that Monday is the least happy day of the week.
As a result, creativity, motivation and productivity all take a hit. The good news is that there are ways to boost your happiness and productivity on Monday. Here are eight proven techniques to cure those “Monday Blues.”
1. Identify the problem.
Sara Sutton Fell, CEO, and founder of FlexJobs recommends composing a list of what’s bothering you. “Maybe it’s a negative co-worker or a meeting with your boss first thing on Monday morning. Maybe it’s that you don’t feel challenged — or maybe it’s all of the above,” she says. “In either case, clarifying what is bothering you can help you try to be active in finding solutions. It’s a way of empowering you to take charge and try to improve the situation.”
2. Plan ahead.
Personally, I feel that we don’t look forward to Mondays because, as the Bangles famously sang, “It's just another manic Monday.” The reason? As soon as the alarm goes off, you jump out of bed and start tackling what seems like a million things at once. After frantically picking out your wardrobe and packing your lunch, you get to work and notice a packed inbox and a meaty to-do-list.
One of the most effective ways to prevent a “Manic Monday” is to plan ahead. For example, on Friday afternoon, especially after 4 PM, write down your top three priorities that deserve your focus on Monday. Set realistic goals for the next week. And, most importantly, add them to your calendar so that you have an idea of what your work week will look like.
Speaking of your calendar, review it so that you can prepare accordingly. For example, if there is a team meeting on Wednesday, then make sure that you’ve sent out reminders and an agenda.
During the weekend, you can get ready for Monday by using a Sunday power hour. During this block of time, you could do some meal prep, pack your gym bag, and review your schedule. You could also compose a Monday morning hit list which is simply the first thing that you want to address.
I’d also add that during the weekend, you run most of your errands and layout your wardrobe for the week. You don’t have to waste your time during the rest of the week on these less important tasks. You’ll also be making fewer decisions. That means you’ll have more mental energy for your most important priorities.
3. Start the week on the right foot.
One of the simplest ways to make your Monday suck less is by starting the day positively. Instead of grabbing your phone as soon as your eyes open, take a deep breath, and practice mindfulness. Replace those negative thoughts with more positive ones, like what you’re grateful and excited for. If you didn’t know, gratitude has been proven to reduce stress and improve productivity.
Eat a healthy breakfast and get your body moving to release those endorphins. Listen to music that gets you pumped. Put on your power outfit. Do something beautiful like buying a stranger a cup of coffee or complementing an employee. While these may not seem like much, they’re all simple ways to improve your mood and kick off the new week on the right foot.
4. Create and stick to a routine.
A daily routine keeps us in check. Otherwise, we’ll go through each day without purpose. While routines will vary, at the least they should include a morning ritual to set the day up for success. You should also work on your most important tasks when you’re most productive and save less essential duties during productivity lulls. Spend your evenings relaxing.
If possible, try to stick to your routine every day of the week. You don’t have to wake up precisely at the same time or work on Saturday or Sunday. But by maintaining a routine, Monday mornings won’t be as big of a shock to your system.
5. Lighten your workload.
I understand that you have a full plate. As such, you might be tempted to go full throttle on Monday so that you don’t fall behind. In reality, that’s counterproductive.
A better option would be to ease your way into the workweek. For example, use Mondays to redesign your workspace or work on a passion project. You could also go with the Jack Dorsey route and create theme days for each day of the week. For Dorsey, he focuses on management and running the company on Mondays.
Also, don’t schedule meetings on a Monday. There’s a good chance that attendance will be low. Besides, having a meeting on Monday doesn’t give attendees much time to prepare. Instead, schedule your meetings on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon.
6. Socialize, but also protect your time.
It’s in our DNA to be social. One of the best ways to cure a case of the Mondays is to bond with your tribe at work. "Work could be the best place for you on Monday because we are essentially cavemen in city suits,” explains clinical psychologist Professor Alex Gardner. "We want to feel part of the tribe, so we go for a cup of tea catch up and then settle down to work.”
"Having done the tribal bonding, we are geared up for a productive week while some people who have started all guns blazing on a Monday morning may burn themselves out," adds Gardner. At the same time, you also have to be protective of your time.
Block out specific times to socialize with your peers, such as during breaks between work or eating lunch together. However, when it’s time for you to focus, eliminate any possible distractions. Turn off your smartphone. Close your office door or put on a pair of headphones.
7. Schedule something fun.
Why do we look forward to the weekend? Usually, it’s because we have something to look forward to. But you don’t have to plan all of your fun activities for the weekend.
Obviously, you don’t want to exhaust yourself and plan an activity that will keep you out until midnight on a Wednesday. But, you could schedule lunch with a friend or a date night with your significant other. You could even plan for a future event, like purchasing concert tickets or booking a vacation. Hopefully, this will divert your attention from Monday to something awesome.
8. Change your mindset about Monday.
“None of these things will cure the Sunday Scaries if you don’t also change your thinking,” writes Jessica Krampe for Calendar. “You have to stop seeing Monday as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and you have to start looking at it for all of its possibilities: the opportunity it presents for a good start, the opening it gives you for a productive week.”
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