Stop Being Stressed On Sunday Night With This Simple Time Management Trick
This article originally appeared on Forbes by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ
Whether we call it the Sunday night blues or Sunday evening dread, we’ve all experienced the anticipatory anxiety and depression that occurs as we mentally end our weekend and prepare for the stress of another Monday morning. Fortunately, there’s a simple trick to quell this anxiety and give yourself another full evening of weekend time.
The first thing you have to do is develop a plan for your Monday. In other words, you need to map out exactly what you need to achieve on Monday to make it a successful day.
This won’t be your to-do list, because most peoples’ to-do lists are gargantuan catalogs of every single activity they would ever like to complete. And if you give yourself 50 items to complete in a normal workday, your disappointment is virtually assured. Plus, most people rightly feel overwhelmed when looking at a list of tasks that fills an entire page (or more).
Rather, I’m suggesting that you complete a success plan; it’s a simple list of the essential activities you need to complete on Monday. This list is your answer to the question ‘what do I need to accomplish on Monday for me to feel like the day was successful?’ And then after you itemize the achievements that will make Monday successful, you need to plot out when and how you’re going to accomplish them.
And I’ll tell you a secret; most people find that with an hour or two of intense work in the early morning, before their day gets too crazy, they can knock off most of that list. If you’ve ever found that you get more work done in an hour at a coffee shop than in eight hours at the office, you know exactly what I’m saying.
Developing a ‘success plan’ for each and every day is one of the most important time management habits you can develop. Last week, more than 1,500 people took the online quiz “How Do Your Time Management Skills Stack Up?” One of the questions asks respondents to choose between two statements:
- In the morning, before I check email or voicemail, I develop a plan so I know exactly what I need to achieve that day to make it a successful day.
- In the morning, the first things I do are check email or voicemail.
This choice is important because if you plan for your day, before you jump right into returning emails and voicemails, you will experience significantly more control over where your time gets spent. And the more control you have, the less likely you are to waste your time on trivial or even wasteful activities. Unfortunately, the initial data we have from the quiz is that 66% of people do not plan their days; they begin their days by checking email and voicemail.
And this situation is even worse when we consider what this does to people’s overall productivity. Only 47% of people who begin their days by checking email say they often leave work feeling like ‘today was a really successful day.’ But 68% of people who begin their day by developing a plan say they often leave work feeling like ‘today was a really successful day.’
In addition to these impressive benefits, developing a success plan for Monday also allows you to disengage from stressing about Monday. Once you’ve got a clear plan for how you’re going to make Monday successful, there is no point in pondering it any further. You’ve got it handled. And that’s the key to allowing yourself to enjoy Sunday evening.
Now, you really shouldn’t develop your plan for Monday on Sunday evening. You’ll be happier if you write your plan earlier in the day. In fact, as you start to develop this habit, you should ideally develop your plan for Monday on Friday afternoon. In that case, not only do you experience less stress on Sunday night, you’ll also experience lower anxiety throughout the entire weekend.
Of course, you’ll revisit your plan again on Monday morning. But the key is to know that Monday is mapped out and that you know how to turn a typically blah-day into a successful one.
One final technique is that after you’ve developed your plan for Monday, arrange something fun for Sunday evening. Far too many of us slip into a mindless evening of channel-surfing while checking email on our phones. Don’t do that to yourself. If you can’t get out of the house, at least formulate an actual plan and schedule for Sunday night. Have friends over or cook a delicious dinner. And if you are going to do some binge-watching, schedule it and make it an event. Tease yourself a bit by watching a preview of the new episode and schedule an official start-time. If you treat it more like going out to a movie than an electronic opiate, your Sunday evening will become an anticipated event rather than a dreaded, and ultimately forgettable, chore.