I think Mondays are a struggle because it’s s hard to get the momentum going again. Like peddling away from a standstill…when your knees have gone flaccid. Plus, there’s a discernible sense of “lack”.
A lack in impending reward… because, have you noticed, we don’t reward ourselves on Mondays with that walk in the park at lunch or a slightly early finish to go to yoga. We punish ourselves on Mondays. We overlay Mondays with dread and ‘get back on track’ expectation – a punishing gym session, the start of a diet, getting on top of emails.
Hmmm, some tips to have a life bigger than such a rut? Gretchen at The Happiness Project shares a few good ones:
1. Avoid getting the bends, I. One friend used to hate the frantic rush of Monday mornings, so now she doesn’t try to do any “real work” until after lunch on Monday. She eases into the work week by checking email, reading professional email newsletters, and doing more substantial tasks IF she feels like it, but doesn’t consider herself “at work” until 1:30 p.m. The result? She gets about as much done as she did before – she just feels less pressure.
2. Avoid getting the bends, II. Another friend has a job where he’s deluged with crises from the first minute he walks in the door. By Tuesday, he’s used to the atmosphere again, but on Monday, he feels overwhelmed by it. So for Monday mornings, he found an obscure room at his workplace where he can have a cup of coffee, undisturbed, and adjust to work life again.
3. Look forward to something. One of my former roommates has always suffered from the Sunday Blues. Now she deals with it by making sure she has something to look forward to on Monday: she schedules lunch with a friend, excuses herself from some daily task that she doesn’t enjoy, or figures out some other way to improve the day. Once Monday morning actually comes, she’s always fine – she just suffers from dread on Sunday. Having something pleasant to anticipate lessens the feeling.
4. Set your own priorities. Another friend gets to work at 8:00 a.m. but doesn’t “react” to anything until 10:00.m.—on Monday or any other day. For the first two hours of work, he works only on tasks that he’s set himself. By not answering email, returning phone calls, or working on someone else’s request until 10:00, he takes care of his own priorities first. I would never be able to postpone checking my email for the first two hours at my desk, but I understand why it works for him.
5. Make the most of the morning. Speaking of mornings, studies show that the brain is often better able to tackle cognitive tasks before noon, so Monday morning, when you’re also fresh from the weekend, may be a great time to tackle a challenging task. This is an issue for me right now. I definitely do my best thinking early in the day, but it’s also the most convenient time for me to go to the gym (my gym is in the same building where my younger daughter goes to nursery school, so after I drop her off in the morning, I’m right there). I hate to miss using this valuable brain time, but if I don’t exercise in that slot, I’m much more apt to miss it altogether. I still haven’t figured out how to balance these considerations.
6. Shuffle the schedule. Maybe something is making Mondays unnecessarily tough. Could you suggest moving the weekly meeting from Monday morning to Wednesday morning, so you don’t feel like you’re starting your week by sitting in a long meeting? Could a report be due on Tuesday, instead of Monday, to give you a little cushion?
7. Find some fun. If you really don’t feel like coming to work on Monday morning, can you think of some workplace ritual – that just involves you, or even better, involves some co-workers – to make re-entry more fun? A little bit of fun can make a big difference to making an unpleasant situation more bearable. I once ate at a diner where the wait staff kept a chalkboard where they wrote the names of movies they’d seen, with their brief reviews. “Excellent.” “Worthless.” “Boring but my boyfriend loved it.” This sounds like a small thing, but it looked like they got a big kick out of it.
8. Roll with it. The change I’ve made in my approach to my Monday morning is – don’t expect to have a regular schedule. I love routine and predictability, but the way my life is right now, every day is different. For a while, that made me felt frustrated and inefficient. Now I’m trying to embrace and enjoy it.
My Mondays are pretty good these days. I film Sunrise, then sit at Bills cafe and have a chai tea and read the Media section of The Australian. And then I write my Sunday Life column.
I also do this:
* Sunday night (or better still, Friday night) I go through my diary briefly and nut out my week so I launch right. I like to start Mondays knowing the themes and priorities for my week.
* I make sure my Sunday isn’t sad.
* I go to a meditation group on Monday nights. And cook a healthy dinner and treat myself to an early night. Again, another way to launch the week right. I think people get upset about Mondays because they feel foggy but want to set the tone for their week. A few little tweaks can do this.
What do you do?