Making the Most of Mondays

It’s a tired and old cliche that everyone hates Mondays. No one particularly likes when that alarm goes off after a couple days of being able to sleep in. No one loves their commute to work. And most people would rather be fishing, on a beach, playing tennis or just on the couch with Netflix than pulling up to their desk on Monday mornings.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this cliche. On the one hand I get it. The weekend is often more fun. You have more freedom and time to yourself. But on the other hand, if you have chosen the right career path, then you shouldn’t wake up on Monday already looking for Friday. For the most part I have always enjoyed my profession and while some Mondays I’d love to hit the snooze button a few more times I have always generally been OK with the start of the work week.

But I’ll let you in on a secret- there is more to making the most of Mondays than just liking your job. There are concrete steps you can take to improve the start of your work week. I call it the 3 looks, and all you’ll need is notebook*, a pen, 10 minutes and a cup of coffee. (The coffee is optional- OK who am I kidding, the coffee may be the most important part of Monday morning!)

Look Back: Think back on last week and ask yourself a few questions. Who did you help and how? What was your biggest “win”? What would you do a little differently? Jot down your thoughts in your notebook. This is key, the actual writing. Don;t just ruminate and don’t type it up in a journal app. You need to actually put pen to paper. Why? I’m not really sure, but science says things we physically write down stay with us more, and for me these kinds of introspective exercises have always gone better when I have had pen in hand.

Look Forward: Be careful with this one. The idea is to think about the biggest goals for the week, but you don’t want this to turn into a scheduling or to-do list activity. Think about sitting down to do this same exercise next week; what do you want your biggest win to be? That is what you want to look forward to. What are the big rocks you know you need to deal with and deal with well?

Look In: This helps on those really hard Mondays when you just don’t want to go to the office. Remember why you started. Now I can hear you in my head already, I started to get a good paycheck. Yes, I know, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. (And should I be worried that I can hear you in my head?). There are a lot of ways to make money; why did you chose your way? Are you in sales because you really do enjoy interacting with people? Are you a project manager because you love getting a team motivated and working towards a common goal? Maybe you’re a programmer because even as a kid you loved puzzle games and you simply enjoy the mental gymnastics required to tease out answers to tricky problems. Remember what motivated you when you were 22.

Now, I can’t guarantee you’ll jump out of bed every Monday morning looking to take over the world, but I can promise that if you do this short exercise every Monday morning that you’ll get to work with a more positive outlook and you just may have a more productive well too.

* A note on notebooks. Yes, I know the newest Moleskin is gorgeous and the paper is amazing to write on. But you know what, the $1 spiral notebook from OfficeMax records your words just as well. Don’t fall in the live with the tools. Fall in love with the work.