Mondays have a bad rap. Even when we love our work, we tend to dread Mondays, and not just because the weekend is over and you have to put the golf clubs back in the garage.
For most of us, Mondays are filled with a fog. We may experience a burst of productivity as we wrap up last week’s unfinished tasks, but it’s short-lived. We hold meetings to discuss plans for the week which we haven’t planned yet. We stand around the water cooler discussing what we did over the weekend, but we can’t remember what we did on Friday. By the time we have our heads wrapped around what we need to do for the week, it’s mid-afternoon, and we’re starting the week with productivity debt.
The secret to a productive Monday begins on Friday. Don’t end the week until you have a plan for how to start the next one.
- Review the week on Friday afternoon. There’s a reason most people have a weekly review, not a weekly preview. Take a few minutes to summarize your achievements for the week in your work log. Do all your projects have clear next actions? If you need information, send an email. Understand where you ended this week so you know where next week will start.
- Close the books on the week. Anything you didn’t get done this week is no longer part of this week’s plans. Drop the task, send it back to Someday/Maybe, or reschedule it. Come Monday, you’re working on next week’s tasks, not this week’s, even though some of them may look familiar. The distinction is subtle but significant.
- Write out your task list for Monday. Ivy Lee’s method works over the weekend, too. On Friday afternoon, you have a better idea of what the most important tasks are for you to take on next week. That’s when you should create your plan. Monday morning, you can walk in, sit down (or stay standing), and get going.
- Don’t check your email when you get in. It’s hard to not check your email first thing when you get in to the office (assuming you didn’t check it before you got out of bed!). We’ve been gone for hours—we need to catch up on what happened while we were gone. The truth is, it waited all weekend, it can wait another hour. Or until lunch. You already know what you need to work on. Resist the urge to check in for other people’s priorities until you’ve had a chance to work on your own.
- Tidy up before you go. Clutter kills your productivity. You waste time looking for lost papers, you have less room to work, and clutter constantly competes for your attention, distracting you from what you’re trying to focus on. Make sure everything is in its place. (Everything has a place, right?) File papers, throw out napkins, and put pens in their holders. Take mugs and reusable bottles home to wash them. Clear the files off your computer’s desktop and quit applications. Get your email to Inbox Zero. Start the week off with a clean slate.
It’s easy to get caught up in a race against the Friday afternoon clock, trying to finish everything for the week. Don’t forget planning. Setting aside even 20 minutes at the end of the day to wrap things up and prepare for Monday will help you reduce your stress on both sides of the weekend. Starting the week with a clear plan will help take the pressure off of Friday afternoon.
Leave the office with a clear conscience, enjoy the greens, and have a smooth start on Monday.