How many times have you thought on a Sunday… “Ugh, tomorrow’s Monday. I’m not ready to go back to work.” And with that thought, or one similar, your Monday just killed your Sunday.
It’s something we’ve all done. I know I have. At some point of the weekend, perhaps Saturday evening as we lay in bed, maybe first thing Sunday morning or on a Sunday afternoon I have those thoughts about the upcoming Monday. You might think about the to-do list you have waiting for you or the meeting you still need to prepare for. Perhaps it’s frustration over not doing everything you wanted to over the weekend. Maybe it’s the client you didn’t call back on Friday or just the thought of going back to a job you dislike. Whatever the cause we’ve all been there and the emotions that come with those thoughts typically are not positive. Dread, frustration, anxiety, sadness, or even anger consumes us. Often for the remainder of the day. Any joy, peace, and happiness we could have experienced might be lost as we stress over the day to come. And with that, our Sunday is dead. Killed by Monday. A Monday that hasn’t even come yet.
I realized a while back that weekends were feeling shorter and shorter. I didn’t feel like they were as productive. I wasn’t laying in bed on Sunday nights reliving the fun I’d had over the weekend. The recharge before another week wasn’t there anymore. It occurred to me that I was spending more and more of my time on the weekends thinking and stressing about going back to work on Monday. At first, I thought it wasn’t a big deal, that it would just pass on its own. However, that didn’t happen. So, I made a more conscious effort to push those negative thoughts and feelings out of my head when they happened. This helped some but was more of a band aid than a solution. It was like a dam that came crashing down as we got closer to Sunday evening and often left my lying awake on Sunday night’s unable to sleep. This led to even worse Mondays as I was exhausted and stressed before I even got into the office. After a few months of these failed attempts to recapture my weekend I knew some other actions were necessary. Carefully, I laid out a plan and have been working on making it part of my weekend agenda. My Sunday’s have sprung back to life! They’ve been resurrected and are becoming one of the best days of my week. Here’s what I’ve been doing.
Focused Fridays. I was the worst at maximizing my Fridays. By lunch I was mentally checked out, accomplishing only the most urgent tasks. I would chat with coworkers, day dream of my plans for Friday evening, and find any excuse to coast through the day. This left me with plenty of to do items come Monday morning. However, those items are what I started stressing about on Sunday or Saturday. As part of my plan, I started with have a stronger focus on Friday. I started keeping better track of my action items throughout the week and working to accomplish them each day. Then on Friday the goal was to tackle any leftover items before the weekend. This allowed me to unburden myself as I went into my weekend. My overall productivity went up as well. Not just on Friday, but throughout the entire week.
Sunday Funday! When planning for my weekends I had typically scheduled things for Saturday with the thinking that Sunday was for recouping and resting. This had, in part, led to all the free time that I used to stress. Sunday became a day of planned fun. I started moving things usually reserved for Saturdays to Sunday. Activities such as hiking, going to the movies, taking the kids to a park, or exploring the city in search of a great lunch spot started happening on Sundays. These activities are filled with joy, laughter and fun, leaving little time for those negative emotions I had gotten used to.
Prep for the plan. Monday still comes. But I’m more prepared to tackle it now. Sunday afternoon and early evenings are now reserved for weekly preparation. We typically take a few minutes to grocery shop online Saturday or Sunday morning so we can simply swing by the grocery store on the way back from one of our adventures and grab our food upcoming week. We prep breakfast and lunch to make our mornings easier. Dinner meals are discussed and decided on. Scheduling is also part of the weekly preparation. We lay out what responsibilities we have that week, decide on who will pick up the kids or make dinner, and share any anomalies in our schedules. The hour or so investment on Sunday reduces the uncertainty and scrambling that comes from making lunches each morning, figuring out who is doing what, or those last minute phone calls to share plans.
Go for the goal. All these adjustments in where I’m spending my time and focus have had a ripple effect. I’m feeling more motivated than I have in years. This has led to this last piece of the puzzle. My weekend now includes goal setting sessions. Perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes is dedicated to setting goals for the new week. I’m setting goals for what I’d like to accomplish at work during the upcoming week. This has led to recognition and possible career growth as I’m becoming more focused and productive in my contributions. I’m also setting goals for personal improvement each week. Things such as making progress in reading a book to help me grow or listening to a podcast each morning that will increase my knowledge. I’m continuing to invest in myself. Lastly, I’m setting goals on activities we can do throughout the week that increase the joy, laughter, and happiness we are experiencing on Sundays. Why limit that to the weekends? Short walks through the neighborhood, picnic dinners at the park, or simply a family movie night in the living room are now part of our weeks. This gives all of us a boost after a long day away from home.
Prep for the plan.
Go for the goal.
These simple steps have been a work in progress. It’s taken months for me to incorporate them into a habitual part of my routine. There have been adjustments and times I’ve slid back into old habits. Slowly though, my Sunday was brought back to life. My weekends were brought back to life. I was brought back to life. Dread, anxiety, and stress have all been reduced. I still have moments but the amount of happiness and productivity that have replaced them far outweigh those moments. My weekends are mine again. And I’m not letting them go again.