Every Sunday night, I got anxiety like clockwork. I left work on Friday feeling accomplished after a week of hard work. On Sunday night, I felt behind. Even if I didn't receive any emails all weekend or any new tasks, I still got anxiety. It was a horrible feeling, but this continued on for years.

To get rid of my Sunday night anxiety, I did what many people do: Work Sunday nights. That worked for a while until I started missing too many social functions with my friends and families because my Sunday work technically started during the afternoon. I never told anyone that so they don't think I don't have control over my work, but my weekend was really only one day (Saturday).

I became a workaholic, and I needed to do something about it. I started looking into what was the cause of me working the weekend, and after hours of thinking and research, I finally nailed it.

It was all Monday's fault. I knew Monday was a bad day, but I had no idea, it was the single cause of my stress. I had the most anxiety on the weekend when I had things due on Monday because all I could think about was the work I needed to do to be ready for my Monday meetings and deadlines. I couldn't just wake up early on Monday and do the work, because that was too risky. And since I like to meet my deadlines, I started working Sundays.

I figured it out! In order for this to work, I needed everyone to also move our Monday meetings and push out any deadline on Mondays. So, here's what I did to get rid of my Sunday anxiety (and how you can too).

Be honest with your team and clients -- Mondays are the absolute worst

You would think since I work for myself, I would have the ability to change my meetings right? Well, not exactly. Working for yourself is a fancy way of saying that you work for multiple customers at the same time instead of just one.

So, as I came to this conclusion. Every Monday meeting, I would ask them if we can change the Monday meetings and deadlines altogether. It went something like this:

"Jane -- I love our Monday meetings, and I think it's important to have them at the beginning of the week, but it's causing me a little stress. Ideally, I need a few hours to prepare for this meeting with the agenda, and last weeks action items update, but I've been having to do them on Sunday instead. I don't mind it, but I would prefer to have a little bit more rested time on Monday morning to prepare. Is it OK if we move this meeting to Tuesday, or maybe even at the end of the week as a recap meeting?"

Nine times out of ten the client was OK with the change. I moved all my team members one-on-ones to the middle of the week, and life was back to good. With the clients that didn't want to change the Monday weekly meeting, I did get them to move it back to later in the day instead of the first thing. It was a total game changer.

Mondays are for creativity, not for status updates.

It took me a long time to come to the realization that my best work is done when I can plan for the week properly and come up with creative solutions to do the work that's on my plate. If I start Monday off with a ton of things that I'm already behind on, then I lost my best chance to do great work.

Use this day to clear out your inbox, respond back to starred emails that you've been ignoring and set time aside to actually plan for the rest of the week. I now use Mondays as my writing day and getting ahead of anything else I need to do for the week.

Express the importance of freeing up Monday to work on the activities that matter the most, and leave you time to plan for the rest of the week. In the end, the goal is to work smarter, not harder, right?

It's a small trick that takes a lot to implement, but when done successfully, you'll see yourself and your team much more productive. Mondays are so much more enjoyable.

Published on: May 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.