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Summary:

It’s Monday morning — time to get back into the swing of things for another week. When I worked on-site I used to use this time to slide back into office culture and catch up with friends. But if I wasn’t careful, I’d have trouble getting […]

cafeIt’s Monday morning — time to get back into the swing of things for another week. When I worked on-site I used to use this time to slide back into office culture and catch up with friends. But if I wasn’t careful, I’d have trouble getting down to actual work before mid-morning.

Of course, once you become master or mistress of your own time and space, and you don’t have a slew of coworkers stopping by your desk to ask how you spent your weekend every Monday, you can make the most of the week’s beginning.

Here’s how I used to get started on a Monday when I first worked remotely:

  1. Make a coffee.
  2. Check my email.
  3. Catch up with colleagues via email/chat.
  4. Turn my thoughts to work.
  5. Look at my calendar to see what’s on.

It’s basically a carbon copy of the process I’d go through when I was working on site. And it’s a big waste of time (except the coffee, of course!) If you don’t have the direction provided by the usual mini-crises and diversions that happen in an office throughout the day, you can easily end up wasting more than just the first hour of the morning this way.

Obviously, if you work remotely, you have a whole lot more control over your time and contactability, which means you’ll probably want to make the most of your working hours.

When I realized this, and saw how much time I was wasting on Mondays, I tried to come up with a more focused, less time-wasting approach to starting my week. It goes something like this:

  1. Make a coffee.
  2. Look at my task list and identify my key priorities/goals for the week.
  3. Check my calendar, and schedule more time to certain tasks if I don’t think I’ll achieve them in the hours I’ve already allocated.
  4. Itemize the other inputs I need in order to achieve those goals; add creating or procuring these inputs to my to-do list.
  5. Check my email to find out if any additional priorities have cropped up over the weekend.
  6. Amend my week’s plan accordingly, adding priorities and blocking time out in my schedule.
  7. Double-check that I’ve added all my non-work commitments to my schedule.
  8. Contact my colleagues, focusing primarily on those who can help me gain the inputs I need to achieve my goals for the week.

This little routine is working fine for me — it helps me get focused as soon as I sit down to work on a Monday, and lets me avoid the time-wasting very successfully.

Also, by focusing my first contacts for the week on the people I need to work with to get priority tasks off my list, I can kill two birds with one stone — catching up while discussing work — and keep my Monday morning momentum (which, I admit, isn’t always worth writing home about) rolling along.

I’ve seen WWD readers comment that they like to get up early to get a head-start on the day’s work, and step through processes like this (and perhaps knock over a few tasks) before others hit the office. But what other techniques do you use to get your Monday mornings off to a flying start?

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By Georgina Laidlaw

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  1. I believe you have the schedule nailed! I also ride my bike for 30 minutes early in the morning – 6:45ish. In the summer it was light out. Now that it’s fall I leave under the cover of dark. I have lights so the cars can see me. That light cardio combined with being outdoors early in the morning is inspiring. I think of my accomplishments and goals while I ride.

    1. Sounds good, Greg, though I have to say I’m not sure I could push myself to get up that early on a Monday — I’m not really an early morning person ;)

  2. Sadly enough I begin Sunday night by mentally going over my tasks for Monday. Today two posters have to be made and my creative juices are flowing. But I ALWAYS start the day with a cup of coffee. It’s both an adrelenine pusher and calmer as I look ahead on Monday morning.

    1. I have a similar thing, though with tea, not coffee — I think it’s more the act of making the tea that acts as a signal that I’m starting work, rather than the caffeine, that really gets me ready to go.

  3. Monday has been mastered? What a boastful claim! :)

    I find routines to be helpful, too. I had a less formal routine when working from the home office. Now that I’m back in the workplace, I find my routine to be more rigid and, conversely, more subject to interruption. Like Simon, though, I find the act of making tea (or more often these getting my travel mug filled with coffee) to be a signal to my brain that it’s time get serious. I think I do the morning beverage for that reason alone more than anything else.

  4. You GO on with your bad self. Way to get a great start to the week! :)

    http://www.theprettyproject.com

  5. My Mondays are definitely the most difficult day of the week for me. I attempt to wake up a little early so I can get a jump start, but it doesn’t usually happen, lol.

  6. Oooo, Mondays are the toughest. Thanks for the tips, though. Trouble is, no matter how good my intentions to start the week off being more productive and organized … never seems to happen. Guess there’s always next Monday!

  7. I’m a teacher. There is no option for unmotivated Monday mornings as the kids have been recharging all weekend and they’re ready to rock. When you give a formal presentation starting every day at 8:15, you ARE the coffee. It’s always go time.

    1. Stephanie, “You ARE the coffee!” sounds like a motivational motto to live (and possibly die) by! I *love* it! :D

  8. Nice post! you know, my Mondays are the worst days of a week! I mean taht i try to wake up after weekends. and it is not so easy to do! So, i go to my bathroom, after taht i make a cup of coffee, turn my computer on and check all the news. After that – dressing and going to the office.

    P.S. But i must admit that sometimes Mondays do not look so bad because i fell myself refreshed after a weekend! and ready for a working week. but this feeling comes to the end by Tuesday. lol!

  9. I didn’t believe Monday Mornings could be mastered. You are truly one of greatness Monday Morning Masterer

  10. How long have you been doing this routin schedule on Mondays? And do you plan to make a little change from time to time?

    1. Georgina Laidlaw SiZe Monday, September 28, 2009

      Hey SiZe,
      This Monday technique has been serving me well for just over a month now, but it’s evolving as I go along. I’m always looking for ways to make Monday morning easier and more doable, as well as more efficient.

  11. Hi, I agree with you that Mondays the worst day of the week. Thanks for your comments here, really valuable. I start Monday with a mixed feeling but as the day is half- passed I make up my mind that I need to work and get focused which remains till the Tuesday morning, where I sit up in my bed, hating to get up, that weekend is 4 more days to go :-)). But as the days go by this feeling vanishes and I get back to work.

  12. João Paulo Cursino Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    … Except that steps 3 and 4 may be frustrated by 5, which is confirmed by the existence of step 6. If step 6 does not redefine the schedule, then it is unnecessary confirmation. If it does redefine the schedule, then it is inefficient rework.

    I invite you to think of practising step 5 before you move on to 3 and 4. This way there will be no step 6, which increases time effectiveness.

    Or so it seems to me.

    1. Hey Joao,
      Yeah, steps 3-5 can get tricky. This is my pro-forma, because I like to set my own priorities before I take everyone else’s on board. I like to see what’s hanging over from last week, and make sure I get through those items if I need to.

      If I take everyone else’s priorities on board before I’ve sorted out my own, general confusion and wild panic often ensues ;) But you’re right — if I’m cool with things, checking my email before I set my task list is the way to go.

  13. Routine: Making Progress from Habit Friday, October 9, 2009

    [...] They practice their craft, and then they practice some more. They dedicate time for practice by creating structure in their daily lives. By establishing their own unique routines, they ensure progress is made in [...]

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