Mondays just seem downright dreadful. Which is understandable. For so many of us Mondays signal the start of the workweek, and the end of the weekend, which was likely relaxing and free from obligations and responsibilities (unless you have kids…just kidding…sort of).
It’s also hard to love Mondays when you don’t love your job. Plus, there’s a plethora of memes about how catastrophically miserable Monday is. Which makes complaining about Monday simply what we do. It makes hating Mondays a habit.
But that’s a shame. Because Monday is still another day, another opportunity to live our lives, and to live them well.
After all, if you live to 80 (the average life expectancy in the U.S.), you’ll wake up to well over 4,000 Mondays. How sad to automatically assume that they’ll be awful. How sad to automatically write off so many days.
Grace Marshall, a coach, speaker and author of How to be REALLY Productive, uses Mondays to review, plan and prep. Her work involves a lot of travel, and it helps her to use Monday to ease into the week, rather than feeling like she has to “hit the ground running.” It also means she’s not spending Sunday thinking about what she needs for Monday morning.
Stephanie Conner, a writer and owner of Active Voice Communications, uses Mondays as a flex day. She doesn’t schedule calls, and most of her clients know she’s unavailable so email replies are not expected. If anything has to be done by Monday, she completes it over the weekend during her son’s nap times. Some days Conner and her son go to the park or to doctors’ appointments. Other days she drops him off at her parents’ house and works for several hours or runs errands.
Maybe you don’t have much flexibility in your workday. That’s OK. Whatever your profession or situation, below are other tips to try.
Schedule something to look forward to. Both Marshall and Conner stressed the importance of doing something enjoyable on Monday. The key is to figure out what energizes and nourishes you—which will differ for everyone.
Your enjoyable activity could be work-related. For instance, Marshall shared these examples: If you’re a people-person, you might schedule time to make calls and connect with your team. If you’re more reflective, you might block out an entire morning for focused work. If you’re a designer, you might spend time exploring a new idea or playing with a new technique.
Conner carves out two to three hours for herself every Monday night. She goes to the gym, walks on the treadmill, and then takes a yoga class. On her way home, she stops at Starbucks for an herbal tea and a writing (or email) session. Sometimes, she grabs groceries. “With yoga and my writing time, I get to feel like I’ve done something good for my mind and body to start the week! And if I stop for groceries, I feel on the ball at home, too.”
Avoid chaos. “[P]art of making Mondays better is also making sure you don’t start the week in chaos,” said Conner, who also blogs at KiddosCook.com. For instance, on Sunday, you might finish the laundry, plan out your meals, and make a list of groceries, she said.
It also can help to use Friday to map out the week ahead. This way you’re not spending Monday morning “trying to figure out where you left off on Friday.”
Start with small, speedy wins. This helps “you get a sense of completion early in the week to generate momentum,” Marshall said. Small, speedy wins might be admin-related, such as sending an important email, putting away your tax receipts, ordering something online, or booking tickets for your speaking gig. Or your wins might include a small step of a bigger project, such as scheduling a meeting, creating a checklist, identifying the key question that needs to be answered, printing an essential document, or retrieving last year’s project file, she said.
Make it a “frog” day. If you’d like a challenge, Marshall suggested committing to doing whatever task you’d most likely procrastinate on. “Once you’ve tackled your frog, you’ll feel brilliant about yourself and everything else will be easy by comparison.”
Set an intention. It’s interesting that so many of us get excited for January 1st because it serves as a fresh start, and yet we don’t think of Mondays in the same way—even though that’s exactly what Mondays are.
Begin Monday morning by spending several minutes (or more) setting your intentions for the new week. Marshall suggested reflecting on these questions: “What’s your theme or word for the week? How do you want to show up? How do you want to feel by the end of the week? What does success look like this week?”
Engage in bits of self-care. If you have a demanding job with long hours, consider moments or slivers of self-care. How can you care for yourself in small ways throughout the day? Maybe your morning routine includes something special you only do on Mondays, such as listening to a calming meditation or reading from an inspiring book.
Maybe you spend five minutes watching the sunrise, and describing it in your journal. Maybe you spend five minutes jotting down why you’re grateful for today. Maybe you grab your favorite breakfast at the bakery across from your office. Maybe you eat lunch outside. Maybe every Monday you chat with your best friend over the phone while both of you are stuck in traffic.
Ultimately, it’s helpful to reflect on why you despise Mondays. What about Monday makes it so challenging and frustrating and overwhelming for you? (Forget the memes and how everyone else feels about Mondays. Focus on yourself.) Can you make a meaningful change?
Focus on what you can control, and you just might be surprised with the results. Maybe Monday won’t become your favorite day of the week. But maybe you’ll also stop hating it. Maybe you’ll even enjoy it.