We’ve all had that Monday: the one when you sleep past your alarm and leave the house wearing two different shoes. When even if you’d had time for breakfast, your only option would be milk with a questionable expiration date. When you left your bus pass on the kitchen counter and hold up the line frantically looking for spare change. It’s the Monday when you’re greeted by a dozen Olivia Pope-level fires to put out at work, and find yourself counting down the hours to the weekend.
A few months ago, I noticed I was having a lot of those Mondays. And although I thoroughly enjoy my job, a nagging feeling of impending doom began to creep up on Sunday afternoons like clockwork (a recent poll by Monster.com reported 76 percent of U.S. respondents are in the same boat). I would tense up, muscle by muscle, readying myself for the potential irritations of the week ahead rather than enjoying the remaining few precious hours of my weekend.
One particularly angst-ridden morning, I realized I was in need of a privilege check. I reminded myself that I’m beyond lucky to have a job I enjoy, a job that allows me to pay for things like rent, food and shoes, and have enough spare change for the bus—and I was taking it for granted.
From that day forward, I resolved to never let Monday kick my ass again. This depended largely on adjusting my Sunday routine, making habits of all the good advice I’d received over the years from family, teachers and bosses (plus the lessons I’d learned the hard way on my own).
1. Prep everything possible.
- What are you wearing? While I would pay an exorbitant amount of money for the computerized closet from Clueless, this is less about style than making sure you’re not wearing a baseball cap and sneakers on a day you should be looking your business-casual best. My office has a fairly relaxed dress code, so I double-check my calendar for any meetings or events and lay out the appropriate clothes (and matching shoes) the night before. Oh, and always check the weather report.
If I’m planning to work out that morning, I also put out clothes, shoes, socks, headphones and keys in a place where I can’t ignore them if I tried.
- Forgetting something? This is a no-brainer, but pack all the important things in your bag on Sunday night—keys, bus pass, wallet, glasses, etc.
If you drive to work, check your gas tank. Taking public transportation? Check the schedule, even if you ride the same route every week (because the day you don’t, it’s bound to change).
- Sound the alarm. I’m better off just getting up or I’ll snooze into the double-digits, so I set my Monday alarm to a song that doesn’t make me want to chuck my phone across the room. I also put my phone far enough away from the bed that I have to get up to get it. If there’s something especially important I need to do that morning, I edit the label on my alarm so I’m reminded right off the bat.
- Meal prep. This is often the last thing I want to do on the weekend, but I’m always glad I did. For me, this means having breakfast ready so I don’t have to rely on Starbucks. If I pre-make lunch, it’s a meal I’ll look forward to eating rather than something that will fall into the sad desk lunch category. For dinner, I typically plan out meals for the week and make sure Monday is something simple but not boring (tacos usually win out).
2. Do check your email.
I don’t want any surprises when I walk into the office on Monday. I do a quick email scan on Sunday morning, take a few minutes to process and strategize if need be, then mentally set work aside for the rest of the day. Some say checking email on weekends isn’t consistent with a healthy work-life balance, but I think that definition is entirely personal. If taking stock on Sunday keeps your stress levels in check, you do that.
3. Eat the frog.
Modern-day translation: Worst thing first. Identify what you’re most likely to procrastinate on and get it done early Sunday, if not sooner. I force myself to start a load of laundry before heading out on a run, and get the dishes out of the way right after breakfast. I grocery shop in the morning (because if I don’t go, then I’ll put it off until Wednesday) and tidy up a bit before heading out the door. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do Monday post-work is run errands and/or clean.
4. Take advantage of your Sunday evening.
According to a Nielsen study, people watch the most TV on Sundays because they’re “emotionally primed for drama,” given their anticipation of the workweek ahead. But I’d rather save Game of Thrones for Monday and do something that I might not have time or energy for on a weeknight, like making a nice dinner, walking around the neighborhood or catching an early movie.
5. Treat yourself Monday—morning, noon and night.
I’m not talking anything major, just little things to look forward to. I don’t usually drink coffee in the mornings, but I make an exception on Mondays. I save a list of podcasts and articles for my commute, and a special playlist if I’m really in need of a pick-me-up. I usually budget for eating lunch out—the change of scenery reminds me I’m not just a worker bee back to the daily grind. And because of all that proverbial frog-eating, come Monday night I can kick back with a new episode of GOT and tacos, which in my book makes for a pretty decent Monday.
Related: 7 Things Successful People Do on Monday Mornings
Karin Vandraiss is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a background in food and travel. She spends off-hours scouting new restaurants and hiking her way through the Pacific Northwest.