Have you heard of “Bare Minimum Mondays”? I hadn’t until last week. I’m intrigued and think the people who practice these Mondays may be onto something.
The idea is to do as little as possible on Monday to preserve your strength and energy for the rest of the week. In other words, it sounds like the approach of a marathon runner versus a sprinter. Instead of sprinting out of the gate every Monday morning, you pace yourself and do just what you know has to get done that day. Chances are, the week will grow increasingly chaotic by the day, so you don’t want to blow all your energy and mental reserves on Monday.
I’m not the only one who thinks this idea has merit, apparently. I found a whole guide to Bare Minimum Mondays on Teambuilding.com by Grace He. “Bare Minimum Mondays are workplace trends where employees do the least possible work on Mondays to avoid burnout during the remaining workdays. Examples of these practices include attending only important meetings, starting Monday with a self-care routine, and taking a break from checking e-mails,” He writes.
I found myself considering on a recent Monday how much I should do. My week was to be cut short due to a last-minute trip to attend to family business. Should I do work until at least 10 p.m. that day, or compromise and work until 8 p.m.? Leaning toward the latter, I reasoned that I could do catch-up work at night during at least one day of my trip, plus I would have five or six hours upon my return to do work before the start of the next workday.
I decided to let myself have those couple hours for relaxation on Monday evening. I didn’t want to exhaust myself at the start of the week because I knew it was going to be a long one, filled with personal stress and labor. My sister and I would be emptying out the home of our father, who passed away in January. This was not going to be emotionally or physically easy, so I knew I couldn’t arrive to that work already depleted.
Preventing the “Sunday Scaries”
In addition to preserving your strength, rather than blowing it all on the first work day of the week, Bare Minimum Mondays are a reaction to increasing anxiety, according to He. She refers to “Sunday Scaries” in which a person experiences strong negative feelings and dread every Sunday because they know how difficult Monday is going to be.
“The Sunday Scaries is an expression used to describe a feeling of anxiety, panic, and fear workers feel in anticipation of Mondays. These negative feelings make employees dread Mondays. In a YouGov Poll involving more than 4,000 adults in the U.S., about 58 percent of the participants claim Monday is their least favorite day,” He writes. Taking some of the pressure off yourself on Monday allows you to start the week with a more positive outlook.
Pacing yourself by starting slowly in the week also may help prevent burnout. When you deliberately have a slow Monday, it can be a way of taking a break from work or reducing workload, even if it’s only a temporary reduction. Many people do this on Fridays. I can understand the reasoning behind waiting until all your work is done before taking a break. However, if you get so overtired, once Friday arrives, you may find yourself unable to enjoy the light day. Instead of relaxing, you may engage in an extreme behavior like “bed rotting.”
He also notes the good impact on productivity that decreased work on Mondays can offer. “Starting Mondays with an unrealistic task list can make employees less productive over the week. However, employees who work at a realistic speed likely will produce higher quality work…,” she writes.
Teaching Good Habits
Bare Minimum Mondays are not a necessity to avoid burnout and balance workloads, but Learning professionals could emphasize the importance of employees pacing themselves, rather than engaging in the workplace equivalent of pulling an all-nighter before an exam, rather than studying a little every day over a longer period of time. Sometimes Mondays are so punishing because the employee realizes there is something due by the end of the week that they have not started working on yet, or have not made sufficient progress on. Sometimes last-minute deadlines are unavoidable, but in many other instances, there is a chance to turn the assignment into a marathon rather than a sprint.
It sometimes takes training and guidance from experienced employees to teach young professionals good habits of pacing themselves in the completion of their workload. Is that something you do in your organization?
What is the best way to help employees start the week in an upbeat, relaxed mood?