Monday mornings come every week; they are just crazy like that. But, did you know that they can kill productivity for the entire week? I didn't know that either -- until I reached the end of my first year in business and realized much of my year had been just a string of bad Monday Mornings. Here are four things I learned over the course of my first year:
It Was The Night Before Monday and All Through the House..
Whether you have 3 hours or 15 minutes, a little preparation on Sunday evening can help in big ways on Monday morning. For me, that is often just 15 minutes creating a to-do list or journaling. Laurita Thomas, who is the associate vice president and chief human resource officer at the University of Michigan, spent several hours each Sunday in her office, preparing for the week ahead for the first few years in her position. "I don't do that anymore" said Thomas, "but I do spend time each Sunday evening preparing for the week."
Schedule your priorities for the week prior to reading email.
Spending Monday morning responding to email can put you more in line with everyone's needs--except your own. Schedule your top priority tasks first, then check your email to see what other items you need to include. Janice Reuben, who is the senior associate for programs and outreach at the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan, is responsible for dozens of programs each semester. Reuben spends a few minutes Monday morning looking at emails and sorting out the ones that are most urgent before arriving to work.
As an entrepreneur, I can easily find myself in a whirlwind of activity--answering emails, reading newsletters, forwarding information, connecting people to resources. Once I start down that path, the week begins to vanish down the hole I dug Monday morning, following up on commitments I should not have made in the first place. I now strive to address inquiry and situations in a thoughtful and timely way, placing less stress on the need for immediate or reactive responses.
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost ~ JRR Tolkien
Performance and Change Facilitator, Deb Nystrom, believes that the time many people spend on Monday morning can actually be a healthy part of productivity. "Some people are in learning mode, others need time for reviewing what's going on in the world..." says Nystrom, "the question I tell clients to ask themselves is "What's the most important use of my time right now?" She also stresses the importance of creating a time frame for how long you will "wander" before getting to higher priority or deadline-driven tasks.
As an entrepreneur, 'Monday mornings' have happened to me at various points throughout the week. Nystrom, who is also a small business owner, manages her week by deadlines and breaks the week down according to what is necessary to complete each task. However, she also allows herself time to wander. In my first year in business, I had the tendency of beating myself up for those times that I wandered. Punishment for a Monday morning spent writing or lurking on social media could be as severe as being shackled to the computer until after midnight. The result? A downward spiral for the week. After honest appraisal, I have discovered that Monday mornings are just not the best time to work on structured tasks. Now, I spend this time reading industry news, working on social media, scheduling for the week, and blogging.
Learn to Say Yes More Often
I once heard a speaker say that every time you are asked to do something you should ask yourself, 'what am I denying myself?' If you are asked to do something that will only take an hour only because you don't want to tell the person "no", you are telling yourself "no". Maybe you are telling yourself no to an hour walk. Maybe you are telling yourself no to an hour of time with your family. Or, that one hour could be the one hour you said you don't have to devote towards marketing or planning and development. I am learning to tell myself yes more often.