A few months back on the morning drive to work, I heard this on the radio “Mondays are going to comprise one seventh of your life, you better learn to enjoy them or be prepared to lose all that time”. That little statement stayed with me for the rest of the week. It was so true! Although, till that day, no one had ever put it quite like that. That’s when I decided, the Monday blues attitude has to go, after all who wants to waste a seventh of their lives.
The point here being there are so many factors in our lives that cause stress to build up in our systems. While we have a host of stress management techniques, which do work, the best way would be to eliminate the sources of stress that are in our control. There’s work-related stress, domestic issues and even social stress. Our systems are being beaten-up over and over again by these toxic pressures, so I figured it was time to get rid of the unwanted ones as quickly as possible.
To give you an idea of how I turned Monday into a day that promises a fresh start, rather than one that has us moping for the second half of Sunday, read on. First, we need to understand what makes Mondays so tough to handle in our minds. By itself, it’s just another working day, pretty similar to five or six (for some of us) other days in the week. So it couldn’t actually be the fact that it was a weekday.
One obvious factor was, yes, it is the first working day of the week. So the difficulty of climbing out of the laidback weekend into a monotonous and fairly rushed routine was tough. Using my project management skills (learnt on the job), I broke down the reasons into a set of smaller pain points:
- The workload on the opening day of the week tends to be higher than other days, since life goes on even if offices are closed
- Most of us are exhausted from the late nights of the weekend
- Traffic is worse, queues are longer and everything seems to take a lot more time on Monday than any other day
- We have approximately five more days to go before we can relax and have fun
Having identified most of the pain points, I now had to come up with ways to get rid of them or at least reduce them. Here’s what I did.
With respect to my Monday morning workload, which I admit was what made me dread putting my foot through the office door, I tried a few options. On Saturday (yes I work a six day week) I decided to clear all possible pending items before leaving work. There would not be a to-do list of old items on my desk come Monday morning. Trust me this was an eye opener. It actually helped me to make a list of fresh work items for Monday, which helped me start the day clear-headed but not stressed out. It was like having a freshly cooked breakfast as compared to the previous night’s leftovers.
Now, I agree that this may not be a hundred percent achievable, but the intention is what matters. If the bank closes at one on Saturday and you have no choice but to do a transaction on Monday, that’s absolutely fine. That’s one activity and you know exactly what to do the moment you sit down at your desk. What most of us do is push all the important but non-urgent tasks to Monday in our eagerness to get out of the office and on with the weekend. This causes those very tasks to become crucial and by Sunday night we are losing sleep over deadlines and are completely stressed on Monday morning. The same logic of preparing for a Monday morning at work also applies to domestic requirements and people who work from home.
Another option, which might not be feasible all the time but, would help if done before a really heavy work week, is to pick a time during the weekend when you tend to be at loose ends and finish up a little bit of work in preparation for Monday. It maybe just forty-five minutes of effort, but it really will give you a high for having got a head start on the Monday to-do list.
The next issue was the early start after the weekend sleep-ins. This had me looking at how we handle children on weekend nights. Most parents let their kids stay up on Saturday nights a bit longer than usual but Sunday nights are school nights and non-negotiable. That’s why most kids (this does not include teenagers) are up nice and fresh on Mondays morning, though they may or may not want to go to school. I applied the same logic to myself and found that as far as energy levels were concerned I was pretty much brimming on a Monday when I had a good night’s sleep the previous night.
The penultimate pain point was the easiest and the trickiest. The tricky part being we couldn’t change the mindset of the masses on a Monday morning and actually reduce the traffic issues, however, we did figure out the right time to start to avoid that problem almost completely. Since the whole family was up and about early that Monday, we were also ready to leave on time, which on a Monday is earlier than usual. The bonus being we got to school before the gates opened and actually had time for a family coffee (fresh juice for the child) before, each of us, went ahead with our own routines. A great start to a supposedly tough day of the week and for the first time we parted ways with a hug and a smile rather than flustered goodbyes.
The final step was the toughest to figure out, but I went with a few small changes. Instead of waiting a whole work week to relax on the weekend, I would do one activity that I enjoyed every Monday. This definitely helped me look forward to the day and helped end it on a positive note. It could be starting a much awaited book or playing a sport you enjoy with friends.
These little changes will make a difference and Mondays may soon seem just as good as any other day going forward. Stress management is great but why not work on stress elimination when possible, it’s a much easier and simpler lifestyle change.
Let’s start the week on a zen note.
About the Author:
Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasional puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.
Photo Credit: Image 1
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