Almost everybody loves to hate Mondays. That's because, for most people, Mondays are hard, especially Monday mornings. It's the beginning of the workweek and the end of the weekend--which, for most people means an end to some sort of relaxation and a return to, well, work.
If you're someone who measures the time until the next weekend, Mondays are especially rough. Of course, just to be clear, if that's how you measure your week, it's possible you might want to consider a different job.
Still, a lot of people have a hard time getting back into their routine on Mondays. I think part of that is because we aren't great at transitioning between having the freedom to decide how we spend our time, and work--which often feels someone else is in charge of our time.
It doesn't have to be that way, however. Despite the fact that so many people dread Monday mornings, it turns out they can play an important role in how productive you are the rest of the week.
To illustrate the point, I came across a recent interview with Google CEO Sundar Pichai in which he talked about his morning routine. "I really value quiet time in the morning," says Pichai, 49. "It's the only time where I get to step back and reflect."
When it comes to Mondays, however, Pichai has a particular habit that I think is really smart:
Monday morning particularly is the time when I really try to think about the important things I want to get done for the week, or deeper thoughts. I have a notepad and a pen and I often write down the three to five things I want to get done that week.
There are a few things I think are worth looking at, not the least of which is how simple this Monday morning routine is. Simple is good because it can be easy to think that we can't possibly relate to someone like the CEO of a trillion-dollar company. In some cases, maybe that's true, but when it comes to organizing your week, this is about as simple--and universal--as it gets.
Pichai's routine involves setting aside time in his schedule on Monday mornings to make his plan for the week. It's important to note that this happens before going to the office. As soon as you walk through that door--whether you're working in an office or working remotely--it's too late to make a plan. You're suddenly at the mercy of the needs and problems of the people around you.
That's why it's so important to take stock of your week in advance. It's important to get down the handful of things that you want to accomplish. This will help you be intentional about what you do. It's even helpful when those problems show up--you've already decided how you need to spend your time, making it easier to say no to things that won't help you get there.
I think it's even worthy of making it a rule in your life. We'll call it the Monday morning rule: Every Monday morning, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write down the things that are most important this week.
Obviously, you could use a planner or journal, but any piece of paper will work. There's nothing magical about any particular form--the thing that matters is the routine of sitting down, thinking through how you can be most productive this week, and writing those things down.
By the way, I think it's worth mentioning that Pichai doesn't make a list on his smartphone or laptop. He didn't say he used some fancy app or even a digital calendar. I happen to think the act of dragging a pen across a piece of paper as your ideas and goals flow out, dramatically increases the likelihood you'll stick to your list. That, after all, is the point--to decide in advance what is important and be intentional about devoting your time to those things.