“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain
For many of us, getting started on a Monday morning is easier said than done. Our minds are still in weekend mode, our bodies want to crawl back into bed, and the thought of that pile of work waiting for us is exhausting. While research shows that Monday mornings are the most productive time of the workweek, getting excited and energized for another round of long meetings and short deadlines can still be a challenge. Building some level of routine to jump-start the week is a great way to begin and end on a more productive note.
Below are just a few of my tips for giving some rigor to the week, while instilling renewed motivation, energy, enthusiasm, and positivity. What are your tips? What rituals do you incorporate to make the most of your week?
- Make a Plan and Set Goals. Mondays may be the most productive, but Friday afternoons are the least productive. To kick Mondays off on the right foot, consider developing your weekly plan the Friday afternoon before as you wind down the week. If you aren’t able to do that, try to discipline yourself to get it done Sunday night or first thing Monday morning so you know exactly what you need to accomplish–this makes the start of your week less overwhelming. Prioritize your list, develop clear goals, and time box tasks to give yourself a sense of accountability.
- Make Weekends Restorative Time. If you come to work on Monday feeling like the weekend flew by and you need another day just to recover, it might be that you’re not giving yourself what’s necessary to recharge. Understandably, we all have responsibilities with family, kids, weekend activities, and so on, but ensure you’re balancing those things with fun and relaxing time as well. If you can’t squeeze that in, maybe it’s time to start saying no to what’s not important and make room for what is.
- Sleep Well, Rise Early. Again, this may seem challenging if you’re battling to get kids in bed and then off to school the next day, but establishing a healthy sleep routine that supports your needs as well as the rest of your family can only make things better for everyone. Get to bed at a reasonable hour and do your best to rise early and make the most of a full day. Having an extra 30 minutes or an hour in your day not only allows you to get just a bit more done, but it also helps to minimize that rushed feeling as you begin the day. Instead, you’re early and ready to ease in with a relaxed pace.
- Establish a Ritual and Enjoy The Morning. For me, a great cup of coffee, a healthy breakfast, meditation, and maybe a nice walk in the morning—these are activities in my morning ritual allowing me to ease into a productive day. Giving our brains time to wake up, embrace the beauty of the day, and be grateful for the opportunity to start fresh again is a positive approach to Monday motivation. Figure out what works for you and build that into your morning routine.
- Establish a Comfortable Workspace. Once you get to work, you want to be surrounded by a pleasant workspace. If you work from a home office, this may be easier. But even in a corporate environment, there are things you can do to make your workspace comfortable and happy. Keeping it clean and organized is a great start. Ensure you have a comfortable chair and that the height of it, your desk, and your monitor are ergonomically correct. Add a few family photos, a plant, or even fresh flowers to bring a bit of life to your desk. Post a few motivational quotes to your bulletin board as a reminder of your goals. Whatever you can do to be comfortable and enjoy an aesthetically pleasing space while still maintaining appropriate levels of professionalism, take the time to create a pleasing working environment.
- Play Music. If you have a private workspace where you won’t disturb others, consider playing some low volume music to keep your energy levels up. If you’re in an open workspace, use earbuds to be considerate of others. But music can impact our moods and our creativity. Give it a try.
- Exercise. If you already do this in the morning, great. Otherwise, a midday exercise break, even if it’s for a short walk around the block, can boost our energy and keep us going throughout the day.
- Build in Breaks. Even if it’s for a quick coffee with a colleague or a stroll around the office to chat with fellow team members, if you schedule in breaks, it can be a great way to segment the day. It also provides you with a set deadline to complete a task. Once you get something done, you can go grab that afternoon coffee.
- Schedule Fun Time. As you establish your plan for the week, be sure you build in fun time for yourself. If the week is all about work, you could be wiped out by the time Thursday morning hits. Sprinkle in a dinner with friends, maybe a fun event like a movie or music venue, or hit up a local museum or art gallery to shift your brain into something more creative. Having something fun to look forward to throughout the week can keep us energized and engaged.
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” –Tony Robbins
- Smile, Laugh, Stay Positive. If you act grumpy and negative all day, every day, guess what—your week will suck and be rather exhausting too. Try shifting your mood by consciously laughing and smiling, staying positive about the good things in your personal and work life, and surrounding yourself with like-minded people. It’s amazing how practicing this habit regularly can change your entire outlook on life, and specifically about the work you do. You might actually start getting excited for your Monday mornings.
- Practice Gratitude. I know we hear this all the time, but it really is important. There are so many challenges we all face every day. But if you can stop and recognize the good things in your life, you might see they far outweigh all the bad. I’m a firm believer in the law of attraction, and focusing on the good things only brings more good things.
- Change of Scenery. If the same old things you interact with every day are dragging you down or just not getting you excited, maybe change your scenery for one day a week. See if your boss will let you work from home if you don’t already. Or plan to attend a conference or networking event to get you out of your normal environment. Go to a nice restaurant for lunch—someplace you haven’t been before. Whatever you can do to change up your environment when you need it, give it a shot.
- Reflect on Accomplishments. At the end of each day, it’s important to jot down and reflect on accomplishments. Capturing these in writing may also be beneficial later as performance reviews arise. When accomplishments are written down and we can physically review and reflect on them as often as we need, we see success in what we set out to do as the months go by. It’s a great pick-me-up when you can see tangible evidence of progress made. And don’t forget to share that with your teams too—collective reflection is a nice team building activity.
- Reward Yourself. Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a meaningful reward for achieving your goals. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but if you set a goal for yourself for the day or week and you get it done, give yourself a little treat. It could be something as simple as leaving a little early, or maybe you go out and enjoy a glass of wine with a colleague, or buy yourself some beautiful flowers. Whatever has meaning for you and feels like a special reward, go for it. And for your team, don’t forget to celebrate those milestones together. A little goes a long way.
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