How to (NOT) Waste 20% of Your Week

Would you walk into a job interview bemoaning the traffic and the huge to-do list hovering over your head? Would you tell your kids to start the 1st day of school in a grumpy mood? Do you LIKE being around people who complain all the time?

I know I’m a positivity activist, but for the love of all that’s good, we need to have a serious conversation about how we can stop this weekly ritual of “Blame It On Monday!”

Just like every week, when things went a little haywire this morning, people were quick to jump on the Anti-Monday bandwagon. Computer issues? “HAPPY MONDAY!” (complete with a snarky emoji) Feeling a little under the weather? “Well, it IS Monday!” with requisite sarcastic overtones. Difficulty with a business partner? “Figures… it’s Monday!” Weather a bit gloomy and soggy? “Typical for a Monday!” (and all that before noon!)

By making Monday the enemy of the people, we waste 20% of the time we have each work week (unless you work for a company like Microsoft with a 4-day work week, in which case the potential for waste grows radically!) being depressed, unhappy, and decreasing our own potential and that of our coworkers.

So, let me let you in on a little secret. We have IT troubles almost every single day. Welcome to the uber-connected world we live in. I started getting this cold last week, and I’m allergic to Indiana, NOT to Mondays. Oh, and that challenging business partner? They’re actually *easier* to deal with on Mondays because I’ve had a couple days’ break from them and am ready to go back into the fray. And seriously, people… the weather? We live in the Midwest, where this is our reality for the next several months – and it’s NOT just for Mondays!

Humans take cues from the people around us. Ever see a toddler take a tumble and then look up to see whether they should cry or not?

I get it. Monday is a transition day for lots of us, and sure, change is hard, even just change from “free time” to “work time”… but it’s also how we set the tone for the rest of our work week. And, we don’t just set that tone for ourselves, but collectively, we impact everyone around us. Humans take cues from the people around us. Ever see a toddler take a tumble and then look up to see whether they should cry or not? Or a colleague glance around the conference room to see whether a joke is funny? It’s incredible how powerful those expectations are. So when we, as a general rule, expect something (like Mondays) to suck, we increase the chances that they will, because we’ll look for every opportunity to reinforce that internal expectation, and we’ll miss (or ignore) the things that tell us hey, maybe it’s not so bad after all!

So how about this. Instead of looking for all the ways “Mondays suck”, prime your week with some intentional positivity.

  • Set a Team Manifesto that includes language around Positive Talk. That doesn’t mean that you don’t talk about stuff that’s difficult-and-important, or that nobody’s going to have personal challenges, bad days, etc. It does mean that as a group, we collectively agree to frame things in authentically positive ways whenever and wherever possible, and to hold each other accountable for creating that space. (in other words. that snarky “Happy Monday” doesn’t fly!)
  • Start your Monday off with a “Thank You” email, tweet, text… whatever, to somebody who you appreciate and haven’t had a chance to tell. (Shawn Achor talks about this practice as a daily happiness booster).
  • Kick off your work week with a “Things I’m Grateful For” practice. Maybe you journal, maybe you jot them on sticky notes and post them where you can see them, maybe you make it an ice breaker for your 8am Monday meeting and get the whole team in on the act.
  • Schedule “Quick Win” activities for your Monday mornings. Rather than diving into your email right away, instead do something that makes you feel like you’re accomplishing important tasks or making progress toward your big goals. Maybe you have a weekly deliverable – knock it out early! Maybe this just looks like actually going over your calendar and planning your week. That little jolt of the quick win will boost your mood and give you that little extra energy to tackle the less-fun stuff on your to-do list – and you’ll be in a better mood, too!
  • Get enough sleep. It can be hard to give up the weekend any sooner than you have to, but hitting the office rested will be worth it, and you (and the people around you) will find yourself more productive AND you’ll be better equipped to deal with whatever challenges come your way! (It’s science, y’all!)
  • Walk it off! If you’re finding yourself succumbing to the cultural expectations that Monday Will Suck, step outside, or just take a walk-about in your building. Fresh air is a great way to boost your mood, but if it’s raining (or below freezing), or you work in a small space, just getting up from your desk and stretching your legs can give you an opportunity to take some good, deep breaths and remind yourself that it’s actually a fantastic day to be alive!
Sarah Ratekin
Sarah Ratekinhttps://www.happinessiscourage.com/
Sarah Ratekin has taken the career path less traveled, and that breadth and depth of experience fuels her unwavering drive for excellence, authentic empathy, and an insatiable curiosity that allows her to see the world through an innovative and creative lens. By day, she’s the Chief Happiness Officer at a global corporation. A radical positivity activity, she’s also the owner of Happiness Is Courage Inc., sharing her message of hope, happiness, and gratitude as avenues to greater personal and professional resilience and well-being. She has spoken at conferences across North America, facilitated numerous workshops on workplace excellence, and worked with groups from 1 to 200+ to discover and embrace their personal strengths, ambitions and relationship goals. She and her spouse Kris, a certified Laughter Yoga leader himself, travel extensively sharing the joy and power of laughter and positivity with organizations of all sizes and industries.

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  1. Great tips, Sarah! I love Monday jokes even if I don’t have an issue with it. Mondays are tough when you’re in a tough circumstance. I could always tell when a work environment needed a new direction if Mondays begun to feel daunting. It’s not a quick change to achieve but a gradual transition. Thanks again for your good thoughts. The interview comparison is great.

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