Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Mondays suck. Am I right?
To me this picture encapsulates how I feel every Monday. The weekend is over. I (hopefully) had a relaxing and fun weekend and yet Monday is here and yet again I am filled with a sense of dread. So many things to do and not enough time to do it. After years of getting the Sunday scaries and dreading Monday's, I've come up with 5 tips for making your Monday's the best:
(Note: These tips are based on years of working a typical 9 to 5 job. I realize that not everyone has a typical office job but hopefully some of these will apply to you)
1. Declutter your inbox
I find the best way to start my Monday is actually on a Friday afternoon. What I mean by this is, that the best way to start of your Monday is by being as close to inbox zero as possible. I prefer to start my Mondays by setting my priorities (tip #2). If I open my inbox and it's filled with unread emails it causes me major anxiety. I've learned that a bit of discipline and focus on a Friday afternoon will give me better Mondays. If I just can't bring myself to do that on Friday (i.e. happy hour started early) or if Friday was too damn busy then I'll try to do that on Sunday. Either way, the best way to start a Monday is with a clean state.
2. Establish your weekly priorities
Rather than diving head first into opening any emails that may have come in over the weekend, I prefer to start my week by establishing my weekly priorities. What key projects am I working on and what priorities for the week do I have associated with each one? What major deliverables must I accomplish this week? What must I do this week to ensure future success? I try to keep this list pretty high level and have no more than 6 priorities. If I have too many it becomes overwhelming. Even though there are things you must do (e.g. attend weekly team meetings) they aren't your priority. Narrowing the list down to six priorities helps you stay focused on big picture items.
If you are interested in getting a FREE priority setting template and some other free printables delivered directly to your inbox, sign up here! The template will help you list out your priorities and complete step # 3.
3. List out the key tasks for the day
Now that you have established your priorities you can take it down to the micro level of planning out your tasks. I suggest keeping the list of daily key tasks to 3 or 4. Notice I said key tasks. Everyone's to do list can include dozens of items filled with little things (e.g. attend meetings, reply to emails, return calls) but the task list is meant to help you focus on what you need to do that's linked to your priorities. For instance, if finalizing performance reviews by the end of the week is a priority, perhaps one key task for Monday is booking time with each employee and preparing for the discussion. Or if one of your priorities is to prepare a pitch DECK, your task for the day could be coming up with the outline. I use the template linked below to list out the 3 to 4 key tasks for Monday. I intentionally kept the spaces small, otherwise I would fill it up with EVERYTHING I want to do which realistically will never get done and then I'll feel defeated. By narrowing down my tasks to 4, I feel like I can realistically accomplish more. I usually start each day of the week by repeating this process - what key tasks must I do today to move forward the priorities I identified?
4. Get to work
As easy as this sounds, it's not! I too have been lured in by the false feeling of accomplishment of listing out my priorities and tasks and then telling myself I deserve a break. So I get a coffee. Or chat with a co-worker (pre-COVID when I actually had people sitting next to me). But this ultimately sets me back. So I force myself (again this is where discipline is required) to at least do one of the tasks. Or check any unread emails that have come in over the weekend or since I got into work. The important thing is not to take a break until you have actually done something.
5. Take a break
Ok I realize this may contradict what I said above, but I there is a lot of evidence that taking structured breaks throughout the day actually helps people re-focus and be more productive. Get up and go for a short walk. Actually take a lunch break when you're not at your desk. The idea is to avoid burning out. After all you still have the rest of the week to get through!
Those are my 5 tips. I don't always manage to stick to them but I do notice myself feeling a lot better about the work week when I follow these steps. I hope these help you and that your week is off to a good start!
And remember if you want the FREE priority setting template and other free organization printables delivered directly to your inbox, you can sign up here.