When Monday gets launched right, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s easier to focus a lot of energy on managing your interactions during the week when you’ve taken care of some basics for yourself.
The weeks when I don’t get my house in order, when I feel like I splash head-first into work and don’t come up for a breather until late on Friday are the weeks I feel less productive, less healthy, and less of a positive contributor to my world.
Those are the weeks I lose my temper with my loved ones, forget to buy milk, fret about all the things I’m not getting done, and get backlogged at work.
Here are a few basic things you can do to give yourself an advantage at the week’s start:
1. Make a list of things you need to do this week. Friday is a great time to do this, right before you leave the office, or Sunday night, when you’re clearing your head for sleep, but Monday morning will do just fine. I am a big fan of the post-it note. Yes, smartphones rock. But they’re connected to all those other triggers that will distract you (email! calendar! photos of my sister’s little girl! Maybe I should buy some containers for my pantry! I can make endless lists on the note function!). Sometimes, the limited surface of a post-it note is a reassuring way to focus. It’s not so bad….
2. Do the worst thing on that list first. Do you need to make an appointment for something and you dread getting the robot menu? Need to fill out some paperwork for summer camp physicals? Have to draft an email to an irate co-worker? Take a deep breath and just do it. Then smile as you cross it off. It’s amazing how much better we feel when that’s out of the way, isn’t it?
3. Take stock of the week. Yes, this is also a good end-of-the-week habit, but if your life is anything like mine, by Monday morning you’ve probably already forgotten what you saw on Friday. Give your week a once-over. Do you have 2 commitments at one time? Have you allowed enough travel time? Did you schedule a meeting but forget to book a meeting space and tell everyone where to go? Take care of it now. Move it, cancel it, book the location, make sure you can keep your commitments during the week. By making sure you’re not setting yourself up to be late, harried, and disorganized, you will already be eliminating conflict from your life (and theirs!)
4. Bring your lunch. Really. Bring some food to work. I love to have a cup of tea during the day, so I keep several boxes of teabags in my desk. And microwave popcorn, some instant soups, crackers, fruit in a bowl on my desk, granola bars, some leftovers for lunch, whatever it is that will let you eat healthfully at work and say “No!” to donuts – whatever it is – make sure you’re bringing it with you on Monday.
5. Set a couple of priorities for the week and check them each morning. I like a post-it for this too. Right in front of my computer screen. I don’t have to go looking for them because they’re right there, all week long. The days can get crazy and you might not make it through everything on your initial list, but by having just a couple of realistic “to-do’s” you can cross them off and make progress. It’s nice to get to Friday and have something to show for it. In a world of endless distractions, focus is key.
There are a million helpful resources out there for time-management and priority setting, but these are the basics I keep coming back to week after week.
What works for you? How do you take care of yourself to be successful during a busy week?