#TGIF: Spend 5 Minutes Today to Make Monday Awesome
Work + Life Balance

#TGIF: Spend 5 Minutes Today to Make Monday Awesome

by Career Contessa
Photos Joe Kathrina | March 25, 2016

YOU’VE MADE IT TO FRIDAY. IN FACT, CHANCES ARE THAT YOU’RE READING THIS ARTICLE WHILE TRYING TO PASS THE FINAL HOURS BEFORE YOUR WEEKEND PLANS.

Before you start chastising yourself for wasting time or how unproductive you’ve been today, we’ve got good news: you can cut yourself some slack. Truth: none of us are constantly or consistently productive. The people who seem to blow through their days, leaving checked off to-do lists in their wake? They’re not either. They’re just really good at tracking and harnessing their energy.

We all work in different ways. Some of us (ahem) are morning people, though those are pretty few and far between. Others work best at night after everyone’s gone to bed. Even the afternoon hours vary depending on mood, last night's sleep, or even food. Most of us work badly after a giant lunch, when all our energy is directed toward our grumbling guts and digestive system. The point is: before you leave the office tonight, think about what times of the day you have the most energy (and the times you don’t).

2 MINUTES: CONSIDER NEXT WEEK

What projects are you leaving unfinished today? Look ahead to next week and decide what you’ll need to accomplish. What are the priorities? Sometimes it helps to actually write down the tasks and give them a priority score from 1-5.

That’s not all, though. Spend 20 seconds actually looking at your calendar. What are your meetings looking like? Is one day heavier than the others? If you know that Tuesdays are “meeting days,” don’t assume you’ll be able to do much work between sessions. If you’ve got a dinner date scheduled for Thursday, assume you might not be at your brightest Friday morning. There’s nothing wrong with productivity levels that vary, as long as you capitalize on the times when you’re most ready to tackle the big stuff.

And this may sound crazy, but actually schedule some breaks (especially if you often forget to take them). You’ll need some timeouts to avoid burnout, be able to shift from one project to another, and even just rest your eyes after staring at the computer.

The people who seem to blow through their days, leaving checked off to-do lists in their wake? They’re not more productive than you. They’re just really good at tracking and harnessing their energy.

1 MINUTE: PLAN YOUR DAY ACCORDING TO YOUR HIGHS AND YOUR LOW LOWS

And no, we’re not talking about caffeine highs and donut sugar crashes. We all know these happen, and while we can tell you to try to curb those habits time and time again, it’s up to you to let them go. What we’re talking about, though, are the natural ebbs and flows of your day. For example, chances are Fridays aren’t your best day for knocking off big, complicated projects.

1 MINUTE, 30 SECONDS: SCHEDULE YOUR "MAKE TIME"

According to Inc. everyone should schedule their “make time,” meaning the periods that you work on the challenging projects that require brainpower, innovation, and creativity {click to tweet} . During these periods, you should intentionally avoid getting distracted by emails or discussions with your coworkers (if you need, set your calendar to busy during these periods or let your coworkers know you won’t be available). This is head-down time, straight up. 

So when should you schedule it? Inc. recommends in the morning when your eyes are fresh and you’re feeling energized, but if you’re not a morning person, consider whether it might be better to plan your “make time” at the end of the day after your coworkers leave.

30 SECONDS: TIDY YOUR DESK

Really. It sounds like a cop out but by organizing your desk so it’s clean and compartmentalized with everything in its right place, you’ll be able to get started much more quickly tomorrow or after a weekend. Studies show that organized work spaces really do help us feel more productive. We work better in better working spaces.

Not so fast though—before you resign yourself to becoming a neat freak, don’t be afraid to mess that desk up again on Monday morning during your “make time.” New research shows that creating clutter and making messes actually makes us feel more creative. Balance, amiright?

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What are your most effective tools and tricks for preparing for the work week?