Making Monday More Productive

Last week, I read Laura Vandekam’s FastCompany article, and this week as a follow-up, I thought that I’d give some more tips for how I get the most out of my Monday. Since it’s my most productive day of the week, I tend to load Monday’s schedule up pretty heavily, and so here’s how I tackle it all.

Use Sunday Night to Set Yourself Up for Success on Monday

Go to bed early on Sunday! Yesterday was Superbowl Sunday, so all over the country today people are waking up hungover, tired, and probably dreading going to work today. I’m not a big football fan, and I couldn’t care less about the Broncos, the Seahawks, or commercials. I went to bed at 9:30pm last night, having read and enjoyed some tea before I snuggled in, and I avoided bright lights / screens for an hour and half before that. I’m refreshed, alert, and ready to start the day. Those who watched the Broncos get stomped? Grumpy, tired, and possibly still drunk ;-)

Now I recognize that the Superbowl throws a kink in this for a lot of people, but guess what? There’s no game next Sunday, go to bed early and have a productive Monday, and you’ll be convinced. And if you make it a habit, so what when next Superbowl Sunday rolls around? Even the most productive people can be excused once and a while for exceptional circumstances, so long as you don’t make it a bad habit.

Prime Yourself in the Morning

Now on a normal morning I like to read for somewhere between thirty minutes and an hour, to allow myself time to a) wake up, and b) get some decent progress in on my reading goals for the year. Plus, reading a novel in the morning is generally an enjoyable experience.

But I don’t read a novel on Mondays. Instead of eating breakfast accompanied by my Kindle and Jack Ryan, this morning I was accompanied by my android tablet and a multi-reddit of motivational/productivity subreddits. These links will get you into a happy, productive mindset and motivate you to get things done.

Now, I know it might sound silly to get on reddit in order to get productive, so the key is to not let yourself get sucked in; only stay on for the duration of, say, your breakfast. Or for a fixed 30 minute period like I do.

Use The Two-Minute Rule… Ruthlessly

This is one of the Getting Things Done strategies that I admit that I’m not always super-good at implementing. (Except, of course, on Monday.) The Two-Minute Rule states that when you process anything (a thought, a piece of paper in your inbox, and email) that requires and action that will take two minutes or less, you do it right then and there. Adding a task that takes so little time to your system is a waste of energy and resources, and will often take nearly as much time as just doing it.

Here’s an example, yesterday was Sunday and when I took my medicine in the morning I realized that my prescriptions needed to be called in for a refill mid-week. Now, since yesterday was Sunday, I allowed myself to be a little bit lazy. But, I did have the forethought to toss the empty prescriptions into my inbox for processing. Now this morning, when I sat down at my desk, I saw the bottles and could have merely added a reminder to my system to call in the refill at some point today. But I also knew that task was really quick – less than two minutes – and that adding it in would waste time. So instead, I took the thirty seconds that I needed for the task and I did it. Now that’s an open loop that I’ve successfully closed for today.

Force Yourself to Be Uncomfortable; Reap the Benefits

I always try to schedule a task that I’ve been putting off for a while for first thing Monday morning. Call your doctor and schedule that colonoscopy. Clean those litter boxes you’ve been pretending will clean themselves. Do something that you’ve been avoiding because it’s Monday and it’s time to get it done, damn it.

The feeling you will get when you’re done with that task will be worth it; there is nothing like the rewarding feeling of having an unpleasant task off of your list.

And don’t forget… there’s always tomorrow.

Most importantly, keep in mind throughout the day that it’s just the first day of any other week. This can work for you both ways:

• Even if you don’t get it all done today, you’ve got four more days this week to take care of everything else, so you can allow yourself to spend more time on some important tasks and do your best work. The simple result of being proud of what you do get done will make you feel more productive than ever.

• And if you do rock it today, and cross off tons of stuff on your various lists, think of how happy future you will be to not have so much to do. Too often we procrastinate, and set our future selves up for failure by letting him or her deal with it, but if you take care of that stuff right now future you (which is still you, chief!) gets to avoid all of that stress and agony.

So do yourself a favor, and have a great, productive day today!