How I Mastered Monday Mornings


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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