Friends drinking and talking on sunny patio
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Sundays. While it’s still the weekend and I want to make the most out of Sunday Funday, I’m also anxious about going back to the grind. Sometimes, I even straight-up dread Mondays.
That’s the worst: I’m supposed to be enjoying my time off, but my mind is already skipping ahead to what needs to be done this week. My time to detach and unwind instead becomes an unfulfilling, anxiety-producing “planning session.” I’m playing with my kids while thinking about how my meetings will go.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten wiser over the years. Instead of vegging out on the couch all day, I’ve begun to utilize my Sundays so I have a much easier — and more productive — week.
1. Avoid having a Manic Monday.
Even if you love your job, Mondays can be hectic. This doesn’t mean that the rest of your week is any less stressful; it’s just that during the weekend, your weekday routines, like your diet and sleep schedule, may have gotten off track. You’re in complete control of your schedule on the weekends, but weekdays tend to be a different story. After enjoying the weekend, it’s not always easy to regain your focus and motivation when you return to work.
Personally, I’ve noticed that when I don’t have a case of the Mondays, the rest of my week runs much smoother. Instead of spending my entire Sunday goofing off or doing absolutely nothing, I block out an hour or two to set my week up for success.
You don’t have to follow this to a T, but I start by keeping my routine as close as possible to what it’s like during the week. I maintain a consistent sleep schedule and follow my regular diet. I may cheat a little, but I’m not likely to feel sluggish or tempted to hit the alarm on Monday.
I also jot down my top three priorities to get done on Monday and plan my schedule around those. I review my calendar for the upcoming week and tie key tasks or events to it so I know exactly what to expect.
Additionally, I lay out my clothes and do some meal prep. I like to do this for the entire week because it prevents me from making these types of decisions when there’s a whole lot more on my mind and schedule.
I also carve out 10 minutes or so to check work-related messages I may have received via email or Slack. I’m really strict about this time limit. If not, I’ll get sucked into my inbox and demolish whatever free time I had left. It’s a simple way to ease my mind back into work mode, and it prevents my inbox from getting so cluttered that it’s unmanageable.
2. Get errands out of the way.
Sundays are a great day to get your errands out of the way, like grocery shopping. Cooking meals, cleaning rooms, or dropping things off at different shops are other good “knockout” tasks. The main reason: I usually don’t have the time — or interest — to do these activities after work.
I also use Sundays to clean out the fridge and my gym bag. I wipe down all of my electronics, like my phone and laptop. They tend to get grimy after a week of heavy use.
At the same time, don’t spend all of Sunday on these tasks. Even though they’re important, you still need some time to decompress. One option is to space these chores out. For example, do your light cleaning on Saturday morning. You can also rotate chores, like cleaning out the fridge, every other week.
3. Schedule something fun.
You don’t want to spend your Sundays only on work stuff and chores, so make sure you also do something you enjoy, like brunch with friends or a baseball game with your kids. Not only does this give you something to look forward to during the week, but it can also help you blow off steam and disconnect. As a bonus, taking time off will make you more productive.
I’ve also realized that it can motivate you to do anything that isn’t as exciting. For example, if you’re meeting friends at 11 a.m., you’ll be motivated to knock out your weekly prep or household chores before you leave so you can enjoy the rest of your day.
4. Plan something to look forward to this week.
When I was younger, I couldn’t stand Sunday nights. It meant that the fun was over and I had to wake up early for school. I had this mentality even early in my career.
As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve learned that I can beat the Sunday scaries if I have something to look forward to during the week. It could be having lunch with a mentor or colleague on Monday, going to the movies with my wife on Wednesday night, or taking my kids and dogs to a park on Friday afternoon.
5. Tap into the power of reflection.
On Sunday evenings, spend some time alone reflecting on what you’ve accomplished in the past week, which areas of your life need improvement, and what you’re grateful for. Ideally, you should jot these thoughts in a journal.
The reason reflection is so powerful is that it can help you become more self-aware and put things in perspective. Through reflection, you can also learn from your mistakes, develop fresh ideas, and even increase your happiness. It can help you determine how you should best use your time. For example, if you didn’t cross off everything on your to-do list, maybe it was because you were wasting time on less important tasks or your list needed to be trimmed from the get-go.
Dreading Monday on Sunday is no way to live. Lacking enthusiasm for one-seventh of your week means you’re not actively enjoying where your time is going. Utilizing your Sundays ensures you’ll have a more productive and organized workweek — and still have time to do the things you love.
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