oh mondays. they’re the best way to get ahead of the work week, but it’s rough. beginning with some sort of bummed out mood around 2pm on sunday, I feel tired and listless on mondays. the funny part about my bad mood mondays is that I like my job, I enjoy doing it, and yet, for the life of me I cannot celebrate the start of the week! for a pretty positive person, that’s baffling. the only thing that I think is helpful in beating the sunday and monday blues, is to put together a plan for getting ahead of the mounds of work you have to do. it takes some careful advanced planning, but can make a terrible monday feel slightly less miserable and increase your motivation for the rest of the week. here are a few things that will help get you ahead of the work week:
set your intentions. I didn’t realize this until a few years ago, but setting weekly intentions on what you want to get done and how you want to be is crucial to keeping yourself focused and happy. there are a few reasons for this. for starters, keeping your focus on just a few intentions allows you to ignore all of the other crap that distracts you and keeps you from doing things that are truly important. the more you focus on just a few important things, the better off you’ll be. in fact, this is how people get things done so much quicker than others – instead of spreading themselves thin and trying to do everything at once, they focus on completing just a few tasks before moving onto the next set of things. take a moment on sunday to think about what you need to get done this coming week. try to include one big task for work, an improvement to an ongoing responsibility, and an intention to behave a certain way. for example, I might focus on finishing an industry report, improve the efficiency of checking on current systems, and set an intention to keep my patience no matter how heated the week at work might get. write these things down in a place where you can look at them several times a day.
know your calendar. if you know what’s ahead of you, you can plan to be successful. taking a moment several times a week to look at your calendar, your team’s calendar, and any other calendars that are relevant, shape what you’ll do for the week. so instead of aimlessly focusing on a project that seems most appealing, understand the deadlines of each project first and then plan out the time you need to do them. nothing’s better than finishing a project way ahead of the deadline – it’s eases stress and allows for editing or adjustments if and when needed (which is almost always the case). I notice that my team does the best job when we have time to really think things out, work on a project, and then edit before a deadline. if there’s little time to do something, there’s little time to really put your heart and soul into it. make sure to look at your calendars at least three times per week to ingrain schedules and notice any changes that might have occurred. my favorite days to do this are sundays, mondays, and thursdays, but yours might differ based on what your job requires and how deadlines are set out.
work backwards. let’s say you have a big presentation due on thursday. you’re pretty sure you know what needs to be covered and you think you can get it done rather quickly. before waiting until wednesday afternoon to hammer it out, think about how much time might actually be required and where you could hit road bumps. as soon as you’ve been assigned a project, take 10 minutes to plan out your work time. assess what research needs to be done, how many approvals will be required, and who you might need to rely on to get more information. there have been a few times where I thought I could hammer out a presentation quickly, only to realize that the boss wanted the presentation in powerpoint and I only knew how to use keynote. understand all of the expectations and limitations first so that you can plan for them before it’s too late. and if you really want to take my advice, always add in buffer time. you have no idea when another last minute project will come barreling in and take away that precious preparation time, so add in some buffer time to keep your schedule organized.
use the week before. if you can schedule out time to do the beginnings of a project the week before, you’re so much more likely to be able to execute on a bigger project. in fact, I’ve noticed that the more work ahead of time, the more time I have time to notice where I need to make adjustments, and the better I perform. let’s take a weekly copy assignment I have as an example. each week, I need to deliver high quality, thoughtful content for a series I edit. it requires a lot of attention to current events, tracking our calendars and events, and a knack for knowing what readers need and want from us. as you can imagine, this requires a lot of time and focus. at first, I used the monday of the week the content was due to pull everything together. this usually meant that I needed to spend the majority of the day working on the content and skipping meetings to keep my focus. over time, I started pinging resources who might be able to help the week before as a way to plan the content ahead of time. I noticed an uptick in the quality and feedback of the content. most recently, I’ve begun giving our team a heads up on what I plan to focus on for the following week. this gives them a chance to share knowledge that I might not be aware of, or to pitch other story ideas that I would have missed if I started too late. so far, working ahead of time is increasing the quality of my work and giving other team members a better understanding of what we’re doing. it’s a win win.
the start of the week is a hard one. but it’s also such a great opportunity to get off on the right foot and really get stuff done. if you play it right, you can increase your productivity and decrease your stress levels. what do you guys normally to do to get ahead of the work week? share below! (p.s. here are 11 other ways to beat the monday blues)