There are very few things more daunting than Mondays. You’ve just come off of a weekend where you were able to relax and get some much-needed downtime…and now that Monday has arrived all of that is over.
Mondays may not be the best day of the week, but they don’t have to be unbearable. It’s all in how you approach them. Sure, some of what Mondays send your way is out of your control. Yet you can control how you react to what cards you’re dealt. If you want to make Monday work for you, then give as many of the following suggestions as much attention as you can.
Make Monday Meetings Later
Mondays are notoriously associated with meetings. Back when I worked in an office environment, we had meetings first thing every Monday morning. The idea was that everyone on the management team would be able to start the week well-informed and on the same page because of that early morning meeting. But that didn’t work very well.
The problem with having a meeting first thing was that no one on the team had a chance to get back into the groove with their own departments beforehand. Now I’m not suggesting it wasn’t important to be informed of what else was going on throughout the other departments. But having to hear all of that news before diving back into my own work made what they were saying less important. Why? Because I wasn’t focused on it as much as I should have been.
Meeting times aren’t something you’ll always have control over – especially if you work for someone else. If your meetings are scheduled for first thing on Mondays and if you have any pull with your superiors then ask if it’d be possible to shift the meeting to later in the day. Mention that giving each of your colleagues time in their own space before going into a meeting would allow them to be more “present” in the meeting. You might even be able to suggest moving the meeting to Tuesday instead, which would enable the entire team to clear off work in their own departments before spending time learning about what is happening in other areas.
If you are absolutely certain that there’s no way you can avoid that early morning Monday meeting, then make sure you prepare for that meeting the night before. That alone will make your Monday morning better.
It’s highly likely that your email inbox will be on the verge of overflow. And you’re not alone.
That means that others will be combing through their inboxes, replying to emails relentlessly and sending them nearly as much. There’s a reason why it’s recommended that you not send email newsletters on Monday; when you do you’re just contributing to the problem of an inbox that is busting at the seams. So while I’m not recommending you avoid email on Monday, I am suggesting you treat email more mindfully – especially on Mondays.
That means only send emails that are necessary. It also means deferring those that aren’t until later in the week. Once you start dealing with email more mindfully on Monday, you’ll soon find yourself treating it as such throughout the week.
And that means not just a more productive Monday…but a more productive week.
Remember That It’s Just The Beginning
There’s something about Monday that brings out the achiever in us. The problem is that we tend to look at Monday as the day where we try to do as much as we can.
But Monday is the first of five days in a workweek, and yet we tend to really expend a lot of our energy on Monday anyway. That leaves less and less as the week goes on, which is a problem for sustained and optimum productivity.
It’s important to balance your workload over the course of the week. If you’re using a task manager (and you should be) then using energy levels as contexts can help with this. Chunking out your week into daily themes – which is a form of time chunking – can also keep you from exhausting all of your energy on a Monday.
Monday is the beginning of the week. Using the above tactics will help you keep it from being the end of it as well.
Reload Through Unloading
David Allen is a proponent of the “brain dump,” which is the act of transferring things from your head to, well, something other than your head (like paper). One of the best things you can do when you start your Monday is to unload all of the stuff that’s been in your head during the weekend onto paper or into some digital document. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have captured it during the weekend regardless (I’ve recently put together a course for en*theos on capturing that you can check out here)
Note: Nick Wynja of Hack/Make has put together a great reference page that breaks down the brain dump incredibly well. You can check it out here.
Asian Efficiency has coined the phrase “clearing to neutral” and its not only a great way to combat procrastination, but it’s a great way to empty the well so that you can really move forward with purpose and drive. You can fill your Monday with the right things a lot more effectively and efficiently if you clear out all of the things that aren’t needed.
Unload your mind first; that’ll eliminate the wrong stuff. Then you can load your day up with the right stuff.
Mondays don’t have to suck. Mine certainly don’t. But not everyone can set up their day using all of the approaches I’ve laid out above, which is what helps me make my Mondays work for me. So try just one of the tactics I’ve discussed and you will find that Monday will be less of an enemy and more of an ally going forward.