Universally speaking, the world’s crappiest day falls on a Monday, and with 52 of the bastards to deal with every year—shit has got to change.
There was a time in life when going to bed on Sunday filled me with such dread that I did everything in my power to postpone it. That meant staying up until the early hours drinking wine and watching football. It was awesome. Unfortunately, my pleasure quickly turned to pain at the sound of my alarm the following morning. Monday had arrived. Fuck. Friday was all but a pipe dream with a whole heap of crap to crawl through to get there. I wasn't hungover. I was pissed off. A feeling which reverberated throughout my day.
That was then. This is now. And while you’ll never hear comparisons to Mary Poppins, I can assure you I no longer suffer that all-consuming fear so many experience on Sunday in the name of Monday. However, I have noticed that more often than not, somewhere out of the blue, my stress levels peak on a Monday. So for several months, I have been playing with my Mondays — sounds weird — in an effort to reduce stress and increase productivity.
To give you some context: I like what I am doing, I don't love it — loves a strong word — but I have some warped passion for it. The best way I could describe it is that it’s a stress I am willing to endure.
As a side note: I believe there are many career options available to us all that one wouldn’t necessarily mourn the loss of, but provides greater satisfaction than that which many believe to be their only option.
A typical Monday for many will start with the word, "fuck," and finish with "thank fuck." To which I say, fuck that! A morning pissed off at the desk is followed by lunch pissed off at the desk, an afternoon pissed off at the desk, and if you’re lucky, a pointless meeting thrown in the mix. The punishment continues after work with a trip to the gym to undo the weekend's indulgence. And then shit, Tuesday. And you promised yourself you wouldn’t drink till Thursday!
SO HOW CAN YOU SET YOURSELF UP FOR A GOOD WEEK AS OPPOSED TO A CRAP ONE?
It’s actually pretty easy. Assuming you work in an office, I acknowledge some of the crap you have to endure—I do not. And I can assure you some of the crap I have to endure—you do not. For example, I don't have to sit through pointless meetings. But on the other hand, there's no guaranteed income at the end of my month regardless of how hard I work. So that meeting might seem less shit now—hope that helps.
WITH THAT BEING SAID. HERE ARE 6 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR MONDAYS LESS CRAP:
1. GET A GOOD NIGHTS REST
No shit, Nicky. Seriously though—by sacrificing sleep, you sacrifice health. Sleep deprivation will cause a landslide of negative effects over a prolonged period, but even after a weekend, a lack of sleep can leave you irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress.
A good nights rest will ensure you start the week off on the best possible note.
2. DON'T TAKE ON TOO MUCH
Tony Robbins says we overestimate what we can achieve in a year, and underestimate what we can achieve in a lifetime. Nicky Cullen says we overestimate what we can achieve in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a week. The week is long with much of our time wasted. Getting worked up over your workload on a Monday by setting unrealistic goals will only result in increased stress and less productivity. You have plenty of time. Ease into it. Keep the stress levels low, and as a result, you’ll accomplish more by the time Friday rolls around.
When stress peaks, productivity drops, so I set myself up for as little stress as possible. My expectations on a Monday are so low that I cannot fail, and paradoxically, as a result, I often accomplish more. It's completely counter-intuitive and sounds like I'm a lazy bastard, but it works.
3. PLAN AHEAD
Now that you have my seal of approval to do fuck all, it's time to plan what you’re actually going to do. This should ideally be put on paper the night before to allow your subconscious to process it and ensure you’re ready to get stuck in with a clear head when it's time to execute instead of being overwhelmed by all you have going on.
The last thing I want on a Monday is a peak in cortisol or adrenaline. So I make a list of what I want to do starting with the easier, mundane tasks. This is something you will have to play with because contrary to those self-help articles listing a million things you need to do before your morning dump to be successful—we’re all actually different. Celebrate it. I love ticking things off my to-do list. So much so that I have to-do lists to-do my to-do lists. This releases dopamine, so the more things I can tick off on a Monday, the better.
4. CANCEL POINTLESS MEETINGS
You know the ones with no objective outcome where everybody sits around and reports on what they're doing, even though it's irrelevant to most and nobody actually gives a shit? Yes. Those. I hate those. Nearly as much as pesto—and pesto can fuck off! I think it's because I don't like a kiss-ass. And this is the environment in which the kiss-ass thrives.
You might have to negotiate with the boss on this one, but you can tell her that after extensive research (me speaking with former colleagues), 90% of all employees despise work-in-progress meetings, and they do nothing for morale—even with the silly games and prizes. You can also point out to her that if she pays attention, she will notice the only ones with a boner in their pants are those that love the sound of their own voice. And thanks to psychology, if the meeting is canceled, that feeling of rejection will ensure they continue to kiss ass. On top of that—morale will be boosted, and profits will rise because a happy employee equals a productive employee. Literally, everybody wins. Except maybe the kiss-ass. And screw the kiss-ass. They need a lesson in how to be a team player.
5. BREAK PATTERNS
Instead of sitting at your desk feeling sorry for yourself—grab lunch with friends or colleagues. It’s really depressing that eating at our desks is allowed, let alone the norm. Grab lunch, laugh, and share stories from the weekend. Take the fun shit you do on Friday, and turn it into a Monday. And those shit things you do on a Monday, do them on a Friday. If you’re stressed, go for a walk. Work from home if you can. Whatever it takes.
My brain has absolutely no clue what Monday has in store for it because I mix it up so much. And if something is not working, I’ll change it up immediately. As a result, my Mondays are way more fun — kind of like a Kinder surprise — and productive.
6. HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
No. Not Friday, dummy. The narrative goes that Mondays are never fun. Fuck that. Every day should be fun, or at least encompass some fun. There’s a hobby you love, and on this day, that hobby needs you. Don’t let it down because it’s Monday. It’s there to lift you up. There are a million different things you can do on a Monday evening that will give your mood a boost. Don’t just sit around waiting for Tuesday to be over already. Can someone wake me up when it’s time to retire? Get out there and have some fun!
We all know a crap Monday can spiral out of control, so disrupt yours for a great start to the week. Of course, some Mondays will still be shit, and that's ok because sometimes life's just shit. When things don't go as planned, a little perspective and acceptance can completely erase unnecessary stress. For instance, take last Monday when I wrote this...
I was going home to watch the SuperBowl rematch between the Patriots and the Falcons. Had the keys to a friends house so I could watch it undisturbed. I could not have been more excited. The plan was to pick up food and a few beers before settling into the game. The evening didn’t quite go to plan...
- On the way home after picking up food I realized I lost my good sunglasses.
- Arrive at friends house. It’s like Fort Knox. Finally get in and message another friend to see if I left my glasses at work. I did not.
- Lock up and drive back to the restaurant. Glasses gone.
- Drive back. Grab beer. One person ahead of me in the queue decides to buy the entire store which derails me a little.
- Arrive at the house ready to go and realise I forgot the HDMI converter.
- Drive home and get it. Drive back. Hook everything up. Put my cold food on a plate, crack open a beer, and hit play.
- Two snaps into the game and the Internet goes. After several failed attempts at fixing it, I shovel my food into me so I can get home ASAP and watch it on my computer.
- Friend arrives before I get out the door and wants to talk about life. There is nothing he could say that could be of interest to me in that moment. I give him five minutes and leave.
- Arrive home and resume the game.
- My Internet dies.
- Hotspot from my phone.
- Phone data dies. I laugh at the irony but at the same time lose my shit as I run down to the store to top up.
- Resume game.
- Fall asleep in the 4th quarter and wake up to a message from a friend who I sat with while I wrote this article asking me if my team won.
- I respond, Mondays can fuck off!