Hello Monday! Most people get upset when Monday comes rolling around, and I have been right there with you all! Just because we’ve been there, doesn’t mean we have to stay there though. Today, I would like to try something new! Instead of dreading Monday, why not embrace it? It’s the beginning of a work week, the second day of the week. We’ve been blessed to have a Sunday, and here we are being given the opportunity to go to work and make a difference. It’s so easy to blame everything wrong that happens today on the simple fact that it is a Monday, but if we didn’t have Monday, could we have a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday? We need all the days of the week to make the full week, so why not appreciate it for what it is? If you work the typical 9-5 job, then Monday is dreaded because you need a weekend from the weekend. However, I think there’s more to it than just that. I believe this discontentment has to do with the idea that we are always looking ahead. Would we be happier if we could just look at our current moment and embrace what is happening here?
The idea of mindfulness is just that. It’s the idea that we are being fully present in the here and now, not worrying about the future, and not being weighed down by the past. Being mindful is taking charge in our life and focusing on where we are in each part of the day. So often we wait impatiently for our breaks and lunch to come, but what if we fully committed our time to working on the projects that we need to be working on in this moment? What if instead of scrolling through social media in hopes that the day will go by faster, we set a timer for twenty minutes and we get to work on that task we’ve been putting off? How much faster could our days go and how much more fulfilling could they be if we could just focus on the present and be fully engaged in what we are working towards?
Here are a few ways we can turn Monday from a day of dread to a day of productivity. A way that we can bring in focus to our daily life and set us up for a week of productivity!
Use a schedule. For some people it’s a paper calendar, for others it’s a daily/monthly planner, and for others it’s their Google Calendar (or iPhone equivalent). Whatever method you prefer, take time in the morning to review your schedule, looking at the tasks you’ve set for yourself for the day and make a plan. I often like to look at my schedule briefly the night before so I know what my day looks like. I have an idea of when my first scheduled event is, and I can bring that to mind when my alarm actually goes off. This brings us to the next step:
Wake up to your alarm. This is a simple idea, but as a task, it is very difficult to execute. Set your alarm to work with the REM cycle. This means setting your alarm to account for 90 minute increments. If you go to bed at 11:00 pm, then set your alarm for 5:00 am, 6:30 am, or 8:00 am. Calculate based on how many hours of sleep you need, and get to bed early.
Get out of bed quickly and make the bed. If you aren’t a morning person, hitting snooze will only make it worse. Once your alarm goes off, get out of bed, turn it off, and make the bed immediately. This prevents you from easily curing back in after turning off the alarm. With the sheets in order and the comforter pulled up nicely, your bed now has a force field that is preventing you from returning.
Have a morning routine. This can be a part of the first three steps as well, but along with those listed above, have a routine. Have your clothes set out in a specific place, have your belongings all prepared the night before so when you get up, you don’t have to go hunting for everything. Having a routine makes it a lot easier to get through the morning. Find one that works for you.
Set timers throughout the day. Now that you’re up and moving, set timers for each of the tasks you desire to work on. I like 20 minutes because it’s a small enough number that I’m not dreading it, but is also long enough to make a dent in the project. This can be setting 20 minutes to get through the laundry, or it could be 20 minutes to work on the proposal you’ve been putting off. This can work for stay at home parents or individuals in the corporate world. Set a timer and this allows you to know that you don’t have forever. This shifts the mind into gear and allows for uninterrupted focus. After the 20 minutes, take a deep breath, maybe stretch and move a little, then set the timer for another 20 minutes for the next task. If you want to continue working on this current task, go for it! If you need a change of pace, that’s ok too. Whatever style works best for you, using the timer could be just the magic trick needed to increase productivity.
Review your day. At the end of the day, whether it’s the end of the work day, school day, or you’re turning off the lights at home, take a moment to quickly reflect on how much you accomplished! Look at all the work you did and notice the feeling that comes up for you. What are you noticing? Where are you noticing it? Embrace it.
Prepare for the next day. Before you lay down for the night, make sure your alarm is set, your clothes are laid out, and your belongings for the following day are organized and easily accessible.
I know it’s not always easy to plan ahead, and sometimes life happens as things get in the way. The goal is to keep moving forward. If you mess up, just get back on track the next day. It’s important for me to have a schedule, especially for Monday. If I am struggling on Monday, the likelihood of the rest of my week going smoothly is unlikely. It’s important for me to get to the gym, so I schedule that to be the first thing I do in the morning. I get up, I go to the gym, and by the time that’s over, my blood is pumping and it’s easier to keep the momentum.
I hope this helps and hope that you are able to make the most of being mindful today and the rest of the week! I plan to make this an ongoing series of “Mindful Mondays” where I can share how I am keeping mindfulness at the forefront of my mind on this very important day. Mondays are so important because it sets the mood for the rest of the week! Let’s make today and this week great!