5 Tips for Busy Mondays

How to survive activity-packed Mondays

Posted Feb 04, 2019

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If you're anything like me, you might find that Mondays are a particularly busy day. I often think "I'll be exhausted by the end of Monday, let alone the end of the week." Even though I like my work very much, everything I need to do, combined with sadness about leaving the weekend behind, sometimes almost makes me want to cry! 

Here are five tips I use for managing Mondays, that you might also find helpful.

1.  Let go of self-criticism about what you're behind with.

I don't ruminate much anymore, but one type of rumination I find myself sometimes doing is that I will mentally imagine other people judging me for being slow to get things done.  I literally imagine specific people sitting around thinking "That woman is so slow to get anything done. What does she do all day?" 

In professional roles, there is often an infinite amount of work one could be doing, but that doesn't mean you need to work around the clock. I have to regularly remind myself that it's ok for me to do what I can in a reasonable work day, and then spend the rest of the day having a life e.g., parenting, exercising, and doing enjoyable activities like watching Youtube.   

Try:  If you find yourself being self-critical, try talking to yourself like a kind friend might.  If you imagine other people judging you, try recognizing that you can't control other people's thoughts, and that it's unlikely other people are sitting around thinking about you endlessly.  

2.  Do at least one meaningful task.

A lot of what I find depressing about my to-do lists for Mondays is that the tasks on the list are often just paper shuffling, dealing with problems, or following up on things. I get frustrated because I want to get to tasks that create some kind of value (for others or me), for instance writing articles or learning something new. Alas, my list is often filled with tasks like invoicing, depositing checks, calling people about problems etc.

Try:  On as many days as possible, I will try to do at least one task that's important but not urgent, and that will have an ongoing payoff, rather than just a one time reward. For instance, I might set up a system for doing a recurring task that will save me time in the future. This strategy is discussed in detail in my book, The Healthy Mind Toolkit. This is one of my favorite ways to feel more in control of my life, and to boost my mood when I'm feeling flat.

3. Pace Yourself

Overdoing it on Mondays can lead to slacking off later in the week. One way to pace yourself is to use moments of downtime to relax, for instance if you're waiting in line or on hold. It's tempting to squish "productive" activity into every spare minute but waiting times often don't allow enough time to really do anything useful.  Consider using them to decompress instead.

Try: Identify typical waiting times you could use for relaxing e.g., while you're waiting for your computer to boot up each morning, or while you're waiting for your team meeting to start. During these times, try dropping your shoulders, taking some slow breaths, and enjoy having a few seconds or minutes of rest.

4.  Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Sometimes my depressed feelings about Mondays are of my own making.  I'm often tempted to write a very long list of things to do that's more than I could possibly get done, when some items could actually be left till later in the week. Another problem is all the new tasks that tend to come in on Mondays.  

Try:  Identify activities that are likely to lead to your to-do list expanding (e.g., starting a conversation about a new project), and pause those while you work on your current list.  Also, consider staying off social media for the day on Mondays. If you're already got a full to do list, you probably don't want to add replying to people on social media onto to your agenda for the day. 

5. Let yourself warm up into Mondays, if that's helpful to you.

Coming off the weekend, I don't always feel like launching into difficult tasks straight away on a Monday morning. I often spend 15-30 minutes in the mornings doing tasks like e-depositing checks or refilling my soap dispenser. Sometimes its nice to do a few easy 1 to 5 minute jobs to activate and mentally organize yourself before you tackle more cognitively or emotionally challenging work.

Try: Identify how you like to warm up into Mondays.