One of the most popular posts I’ve written on this blog is How Successful People Start Their Day. It seems like every entrepreneur is interested in learning how to get ahead early. But starting every day isn’t the same as starting a Monday. Mondays are proven to be harder to face.
Many studies have shown that on Sunday afternoons, most people start to feel depressed. Maybe you’ve felt it. Work is coming. The weekend is over and it wasn’t all you imagined it would be. The pressure of another week of performance begins to hit early. There are hundreds of reasons why, but Sunday afternoon and evening is generally a downer.
No wonder Monday seems to be so, well… Monday.
Over the years, I’ve studied how people can ramp up for the work week. I’ve come to believe that there are not naturally “Monday” people, but that there are disciplines people follow that help them beat the Sunday blues and ramp up for the work week ahead.
1. Sleep, but don’t snooze.
Entrepreneurs are notorious for burning the candle at both ends, but the National Sleep Foundationsays that you cannot catch up on lost sleep. There may be no more important night to get rest than Sunday night, and no better remedy for Sunday blues than a solid night’s sleep. The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “Sleep is the best form of meditation.”
On the flip side, do NOT hit the snooze button. Dr. Rafael Pelayo of the Stanford Sleep Center says that by hitting the snooze button, you are telling your body “false alarm!” That results in a more groggy and slow wake up than if you just went ahead and got up when the alarm goes off. Monday is enough of a drag on its own. Hitting snooze only digs a deeper hole for you to climb out of.
2. Get Physical.
Getting the body in its proper state often precedes the mind and emotions coming its way. If there’s any day this is most true, it is Monday.
An article by Ron Friedman of Harvard Business Review sites countless studies that show exercise not only motivates and improves work performance, but also pulls us out of a slump. One study found that when a group of people suffering from mild to moderate depression exercised (i.e. strength training, running or walking) for at least 20 to 60 minutes 3 times a week, they were significantly less depressed 5 weeks later. The benefits were immediate and were maintained for these participants as long as they consistently exercised.
I’ve taken this message to heart and have made it a practice to never take both Sunday and Monday off from working out. If I do skip Sunday, Monday morning workouts are a must.
It doesn’t have to be a P90X workout. Cosmopolitan Editor-In-Chief Joanna Coles makes a Monday walk with her dog a must and says it helps her start her week. Many of my best ideas have come on Monday morning walks with Moses, Vanderbloemen Search Group’s Chief Canine Officer.
Mondays can leave you low on energy and more unwilling to workout than normal. Here’s an old trick I’ve used on myself for years:
I lie to myself.
I’ll head out the door saying “I’m only running 10 minutes, then I’m quitting.” Turns out, I have never wanted to quit once I was out the door and moving for 10 minutes. And I almost always felt better afterward. By releasing some stress, and some endorphins, you will likely kick your body out of the funk Monday can bring.
3. Keep email in check until you get to the office.
Dave Karp, CEO and Founder of Tumblr, says that he will not respond to email until he gets to the office. I’ve found this to be especially effective for Mondays. The beginning of the week is the time when you set your mental state for the week. Stay focused on the big projects ahead and devote brain power there. The distractive power of email can take your brain away from big planning and into minutia that can wait. Honestly, when is the last time you had a Monday email that had to be dealt with right away?
4. Never quit (or make big decisions) on a Monday.
There’s an old saying, “Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.” That couldn’t be more true than on Mondays.
In our work helping churches find their key staff, Monday is the number one day for resumes to come to us unsolicited. People get bummed out on Sunday afternoon or evening, come into work Monday, and decide that they have had enough. After working with tens of thousands of candidates, we have come to believe that Monday is the number one day people quit their job.
But quitting on a day you’re down is a really bad idea. In fact, making any major decisions when depressed is almost always counterproductive and later regretted.
Making major decisions on the day when you’re down can have serious consequences. Most big decisions can wait until Tuesday, particularly if you start to shape your schedule around the idea.
When I was younger (read, when I knew everything) and leading churches, I thought it was a great idea to start Monday with marathon meetings filled with big agendas and decisions. I even scheduled our board and committee meetings for Monday nights. I was dead wrong. Turns out, not every day was designed for intense decisions.
5. Schedule work that has tangible results on Mondays.
Just like working out will help you out of the low points, so will working on projects where you can see immediate results.
Behavioral Psychologist Kelly Lambert has done a lot of research that shows handiwork can pull us out of depressed moments. When we knit a scarf, for instance, Lambert says, the brain’s executive-thinking centers get busy planning.
Do tasks and projects that can be completed and have a box to check. Maybe it’s organizing your desk, planning a month of your calendar, writing notes of encouragement to staff, or knocking out some of those menial tasks you never seem to “have time for.” I have learned to keep a running “Monday punchlist” throughout the week so that I have some projects ready to go before I ever get to the office. If you’re anything like me, you will find that finishing a to-do list will do wonders for your soul.
I’m sure there are other tips out there for getting out of a low spot, and maybe some of you don’t suffer from post-Sunday Blues. But if you do, know that you’re not alone, and that they will pass.
I know when I was preaching, as much as I loved it, I often thought, “Sunday seems to come around every seven days!”
The good news is, Tuesday does, too.
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