Let’s face it – Mondays should be banned.
The Islamic Nations have already done it. Well, not exactly ban the day per se as much as shift their Mondays to an earlier day – or later, if you are the right-to-left kind, I guess. I am pretty sure Saturday in the Arab world is not a day of much cheer either.
That said, Mondays are also here to stay. And each Monday brings with it dread, anxiety, urgency and irritability – at least in most of the sane ones. There is work pending from the previous week; there is work scheduled for the current week; and for some too ambitious to realize the vaporous nature of work, there is also some work for the future that you want to reschedule (or prepone, a very Indian invention that should belong in every vocabulary for its efficiency) back to this week.
|Is there any more shit we can pile on to the top of the outcome of this case? Is it possible?|
And it doesn’t really matter where you are on the food chain, or what cuisine you are into. You could be your own boss, or you could be answering to a bureaucracy the size of a small nation; you could have people “Yessir/Yesmam”ing you all the time, or you could be the one having to do that; or you could be the vast majority caught between the two extremes. And no matter how good you are, no matter how many tools you have in your hand, you walk in on Monday continuing your thoughts from Friday (or Saturday, for the even unluckier).
“Dammit! I’ve got a shitload of work waiting for me.”
When I decided to chuck my employee tag for one that says entrepreneur/author, I figured Mondays wouldn’t be as terrible anymore, you know… No bosses to convince, no reports to put together, no Sunday-evening crises of conscience or regret.
Five months down the line, I know different. The anticipation of the week ahead doesn’t change – you’ve still got targets (maybe get to a particular milestone in the product you are building, or a few more chapters) and the ‘boss’ you are now dealing with knows each and every trick you could ever hope to pull. But unlearning that is a valuable lesson nevertheless: for the secret of the special ingredient for the soup is that there is no secret at all. You can’t get away from Mondays, and you can’t get away from the misery it usually evokes.
So what can you do? How do you mitigate a miseable Monday?
Start with a smile – and with reason. Think of the week ahead as a clean slate, not a carryover of your past shortcomings. You are getting a fresh chance to complete everything, a second attempt to challenge everything that could have defeated you – and you are now wiser, in a better frame of mind to tackle everything that’s thrown your way. Boxers, even if they are on the verge of a ten-count KO, try to last till the bell – for the round after that is a new one, and it’s enough to give you a chance to make a comeback.
One thing, good. One of Masterchef George Calombaris’s most important tips to a contestant struggling to put up an overambitious smorgasbord of eats. And like most things to do with food, there is a real-world parallel as well. Do not start the week thinking of ALL the things you need to achieve – think of ONE major success you want for the week. It could be anything from putting together a complicated deck you’ve been working on for weeks; it could be closing a high-value sale; it could be that resignation letter you’ve been composing in your head for a long time – whatever, but it has to be something that excites you, reminds you why you are this good at what you do. Put it on a Paste-it, a wallpaper, something that you’ll keep looking at many times in a day. Start your Monday thinking of that one thing, good.
Once you have this beacon fixed, look at the other things on your plate. Pull them apart, question their priorities. Evaluate your preparedness – for some of those things you regret being unable to tackle the previous week could have actually been stuck at a colleague’s desk, or awaiting more info from someone else. If you can’t do anything about it immediately, park it. For now.
If there’s anything that’s stymied your repeated attempts, take a step back – in all probability, you are too close to see the solution. I have a thumb rule I usually employ – if it starts getting complicated, I’m probably not doing it right. Try it; you’ll be amazed at how simple things are once you see the forest instead of the trees.
Go back to the tasks you’ve parked. If there is anything you can get done by B just as well as by A (who’s not gotten around to it), then give it to B. If it’s low priority, don’t sweat it anymore – like bubbles, priorities rise when they need to. If you can’t do anything about it today, don’t waste time moping about it. Thank your stars you have a good excuse!
Don’t check your mail – except to just scan through and make sure there’s nothing that needs an immediate FYA. Everything else can wait until you are done with your planning. Most email communiques are transactional in nature, but they eat up time you should be using to put into motion your transformational plans – so be careful you do not get caught up in “Ah, it’s just a single-line reply – won’t take more than a minute!”
And don’t get on to Facebook, Twitter or any other site you don’t need professionally – even if it’s allowed during office hours. Monday builds your momentum for the rest of week and you shouldn’t be risking it by taking time off to catch up on what happened over the weekend. If you are reading this on a Monday… ahem, ahem! (Hey, I’m supposed to be a writer – this is what I do!)
Finally, end the day as you should have begun it – with a smile on your lips and cheer in your heart. No matter how you look at it, you have got to be at least slightly ahead of the game than where you were at the beginning of the day. Swallow bitter pills of disappointment with a sloshing finger of amber-gold success, if you would prefer a metaphor (seriously? at the end of a long day?)
While these tips may not take your Monday morning blue and paint it red, it should still help you in one way or another – if, nothing else, at least to remind you that if I can get you to read this, you could probably BS your way out of some tight corners as well!
If you liked this, come back tomorrow for tips on Tackling Tricky Tuesdays!