Mondays can be painful, especially after a sunny weekend or a holiday. Getting through the first day of the week can be difficult, but there’s a number of easy ways to make it easier, smoother and more productive.
1. Sort out what you’re wearing
Waking up on a Monday morning and being unable to find anything to wear immediately puts you in the wrong mood to have a productive and happy start to the week. Running around trying to find clothes can also make you rush, late for work and/or forget things – all of which can be avoided with a little preparation.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology first coined the phrase “embodied cognition”, to describe the idea that our bodies, as well as our minds, are part of our thought process.
The researchers found that the clothes we wear influence and change the way we view and interact with the world. When participants were provided with white coats that they were told belonged to doctors, the subjects’ ability to pay attention increased.
When they were told that the coats were painters overalls, their ability to pay attention was almost non-existent.
Clothes influence a wearer’s psychological processes, perception of themselves and of the world they’re interacting with.
Dressing casually can negatively affect focus, alertness and engagement.
What we wear also changes how others perceive us. For instance, if there are no other differences between two candidates for a vacancy, it’s more likely that the one who dressed appropriately will receive the job offer.
Making the effort to pick and iron clothes, appropriate to your working environment, will be evident to your colleagues – not making the effort will be even more so.
Being a bit of a fashion victim can also benefit you in the workplace. In a series of studies published in the Evolution and Human Behavior journal, wearing obvious designer brands gained cooperation from others more easily and helped gain job recommendations, as well as typically leading to higher wages.
2. Prepare lunch
We snack and buy the wrong things for lunch because it’s usually a spontaneous decision.
Preparing your lunch ahead of time is not only a great way to avoid the hassle of deciding what to have and having to go and get it, it’s also usually cheaper, healthier and tastes better!
Get your lunch prepared on Sunday evening to remove that task from your Monday morning schedule.
A study in the Daily Mail estimates that the average worker in the UK spends approximately £7.81 per day on lunch. That’s £1,811 per year! Preparing and taking your own lunch can reduce this cost significantly, as well as putting you in control of your diet. Salads, sandwiches and leftovers can all be prepared easily on a Sunday evening for your Monday lunchtime meal.
— Ant Nyman (@PTAntNyman) May 17, 2016
Creating more nutritionally beneficial meals for your work lunches will help you to be more productive in the afternoon too. Poor quality food, often consumed in a rush at lunch, won’t keep you going all afternoon, leading to snacking and a drop in your productivity.
We snack regularly throughout the day, with the peak period being between 3pm and 6pm. This accounts for almost one quarter (23%) of all daily snacking. By thinking ahead and preparing more nutritious food you can help yourself avoid the temptation of grabbing the nearest chocolate bar or packet of crisps, which account for the top two snacking categories.*
3. Treat your colleagues
Get that feel-good factor by making or buying something to take in to the office for your colleagues. Brownies, cookies, chilli, etc. are all easy to make and will brighten up a Monday, not only for you but for those people you share an office with too.
Inviting colleagues from different departments to try your generously prepared/purchased snacks improves cohesion and helps to create a great culture to work in.
Many companies now promote their employer brand and workplace culture to attract business and talent. Believing in a healthy company culture and demonstrating what a great brand your employers work for will earn you some brownie points (pun intended).
My colleague at work gave me some pretty cookies! They’re called ‘samprit’🌼💖pic.twitter.com/61vp3m2pF4
— .ryu (@hasanahazman) April 29, 2016
Creating a culture of giving promotes communication and collaboration, and enables engagement to thrive. Colleagues that are generous with their time and happy to help others create a strong, motivated and efficient workforce.
4. Attack your inbox!
Ever get to work on a Monday and have to wade through numerous emails, before you can even think about getting on with anything proactive?
Run through your inbox on a Sunday evening and get rid of those emails that are either irrelevant or take a couple of minutes to reply to.
Reports on the exact amount of time spent administering our emails differ, but they all agree that it’s a lot!:
According to The Guardian, 40% of employees time is spent reading internal emails. If you were a business leader, would you be happy that 40% of your wage bill was spent on workers sifting through internal communications?
Inc. reports that “Over 200 billion email messages are sent and received every day. Email occupies 23 percent of the average employee’s workday, and that the average employee checks his or her email 36 times an hour.“
In either case, the amount of time consumed is detrimental to our daily productivity. In previous articles, I’ve advocated the use of ’email windows’ – specific time periods during the day to focus on emails as opposed to ad hoc inbox checks.
Another way you can do your bit to curb the flow of less-than-critical emails is to think about whether you need to send them in the first place. If everyone paused for thought before sending emails, to consider their necessity, then we would all have more time to focus on more important priorities.
Could you actually speak to a colleague in person rather than send a long-winded email?
Not having to deal with low priority emails on a Monday reduces frustration and increases your productivity from the very beginning of your working week.
Another option to reduce your emails (company wide) is to implement an employee intranet. This enables collaboration and communication in a structured and easy to use format, which negates the need for all but the most important emails.
Brainstorming, sharing interesting news, keeping employees informed of business matters, asking for opinions and views, and praising colleagues can all be achieved through this type of portal, without the need for multiple emails.
5. Set goals
Having a specific focus helps you to concentrate and provides you with something tangible to work towards. Rather than just trying to get through a Monday as best you can, set yourself a targeted goal to achieve.
You can even reward yourself with something for achieving it!
Setting a goal also helps in the following ways:
- It gives you direction
- It improves focus
- Your decision-making becomes easier
- It motivates you
— JSEChallenge (@JSE_Challenge) May 17, 2016
Apps, such as Google Calendar, now enable you to set goals that can be automatically integrated into your daily, weekly or monthly routine. Whether you want to achieve something specific on one day or start a healthy habit every day, using technology to help you achieve goals is an effective strategy.
Leaving at the end of the day having achieved specific goals helps you to remember Mondays as productive and fulfilling, as opposed to just the beginning of another work week.
6. Enjoy your weekend
Making the most of your weekend, and not feeling like it was wasted time, will make Monday less of a shock.
Make a concerted effort to spend time with friends and family, get out and about and don’t waste the two days (if you’re lucky enough to get the entire weekend off) you have to yourself.
The weekend is also time for you to recharge and allow your brain to take a break from work for a couple of days.
7. Create a ‘focus playlist’
Music can help you to focus, block out distractions and be more productive. On a Sunday afternoon, create or follow a playlist of focus-centric tracks to help you power through Monday and enable you to leave the office with the satisfying feeling of a job well done.
Music is also said to improve your morale, as you’re invariably going to listen to music you like, create a personal space enabling you to work with less interruptions, and affect the speed at which you work.
An example of music influencing your efficiency and speed is the different types of tunes brands use in their outlets. Fast food chains often play upbeat and quick tempo tunes to increase the turnover of customers, whereas shops that want you to browse play more relaxing ‘lift’ type music.
There are many studies and articles available that detail the benefits that music has on your focus, health, concentration and productivity.
One such study by Teresa Lesiuk found that IT workers who listened to music completed tasks quicker and were more creative than those who didn’t. Another study found that 9 out of 10 workers perform better when listening to (the right) music.
When it comes to choosing the type of music you should listen to, try natural sounds. Business Insider reported:
“Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently discovered that adding a natural element could boost moods and focus.
Sounds of nature can mask intelligible speech just as well as white noise while also enhancing cognitive functioning, optimizing the ability to concentrate, and increasing overall worker satisfaction, the researchers found. The mountain stream sound researchers used in their study also possessed enough randomness that it didn’t distract test subjects.”