1. Don’t schedule trying tasks for first thing. One friend used to hate the frantic rush of Monday mornings, so now she doesn’t try to do any “real work” until after lunch on Monday. She eases into the work week by checking email, reading professional email newsletters, and doing more substantial tasks IF she feels like it, but doesn’t consider herself “at work” until 1:30 p.m. The result? She gets about as much done as she did before—she just feels less pressure.
2. Look forward to something. One of my former roommates has always suffered from the Sunday Blues. Now she deals with it by making sure she has something to look forward to on Monday: she schedules lunch with a friend, excuses herself from some daily task that she doesn’t enjoy, or figures out some other way to improve the day. Once Monday morning actually comes, she’s always fine—she just suffers from dread on Sunday. Having something pleasant to anticipate lessens the feeling.
3. Set your own priorities. Another friend gets to work at 8:00 a.m. but doesn’t “react” to anything until 10:00 a.m.—on Monday or any other day. For the first two hours of work, he works only on tasks that he’s set himself. By not answering email, returning phone calls, or working on someone else’s request until 10:00, he takes care of his own priorities first. I would never be able to postpone checking my email for the first two hours at my desk, but I understand why it works for him.
4. Make the most of the morning. Speaking of mornings, studies show that the brain is often better able to tackle cognitive tasks before noon, so Monday morning, when you’re also fresh from the weekend, may be a great time to tackle a challenging task. This is an issue for me right now. I definitely do my best thinking early in the day, but it’s also the most convenient time for me to go to the gym (my gym is in the same building where my younger daughter goes to nursery school, so after I drop her off in the morning, I’m right there). I hate to miss using this valuable brain time, but if I don’t exercise in that slot, I’m much more apt to miss it altogether. I still haven’t figured out how to balance these considerations.