Sunday nights in this house are a buzz of activity. For me. Everyone else seems chilled out after the weekend. On a typical Sunday I spend the evening making sure my outfit is planned for the morning, packing my laptop bag, preparing snacks, and finding my train ticket. That’s just work related tasks to get ready for next week.
Then there’s the other getting-ready-for-the-week stuff like meal planning for the week ahead, and checking whose birthday we have forgotten so I can apologise. I’m really not on top of all this stuff.
That’s a lot of chores to do, but they aren’t truly to do with getting my head straight for work. I’ve done all that on Friday afternoon. Good planning on a Friday for the week ahead makes Monday morning much less stressful. And as Mondays always seem to be really busy days, I can hit the ground running and get straight to my To Do list.
Here are my top 5 tips for facing Mondays ready for action by getting ready before you wind down for the weekend.
1. Update Your To Do list
This is essential. I review what I have achieved and make sure my To Do list is up-to-date. If I know Monday is going to be particularly stressful I’ll write my top three priorities on a sticky note and stick it to my laptop keyboard, then it’s there as a reminder when I open my machine.
A To Do list helps keep me structured and focused on what is important, but it’s only as good as the last time it was updated. Do it Friday afternoon when it will take you all of five minutes. On Monday morning I guarantee it will take three times as long.
2. File All The Things
Tidy your desk. Mostly for me that means putting paperwork in the confidential waste bin or the shredder. It can also mean taking my expenses to the post room or zapping my holiday form to my manager.
If I’m working from home I’ll tidy up my receipts and put them in an envelope ready to claim. I’ll also throw away all the sticky notes that I’ve acquired (and actioned) throughout the week. If I didn’t do anything about the tasks written on them they’ll get to stick around until they’re completed.
Starting work on Monday with a pile of unidentifiable papers and notes will not be much fun, so sort it before the weekend.
3. Clear Your Inbox
OK, I never do this! Inbox Zero is beyond me. But I do keep my inbox to under 100 messages always and on a good Friday it’s down to one screen’s worth with no scrolling, so that’s about 35. It makes me happy to have filed, deleted or actioned messages.
It also makes it easy to see on Monday what has come in over the weekend and what needs working on straight away. Emails are one of my biggest causes of stress so if I can get ready for next week by clearing out everything that’s been dealt with, I know I’ll be starting afresh.
4. Book Travel Tickets
Look ahead at your diary and check you’ve got everything you need to get to the meetings you are attending. Nearly every week I have some requirement to travel, so I sort out my tickets in advance. I can either have them posted to the house so they are ready, or I collect at the station (it’s trains for me – I don’t fly much anymore).
Equally, if you have hotels to reserve that you haven’t done yet, make that a Friday job. It’s cheaper and more relaxing to know that you have these arrangements already made than trying to do it the day before.
5. Check Meeting Room Reservations
I’ve lost count of the times I have booked a meeting and put in the invite ‘Room TBC’. Then I forget to arrange the room, let alone to confirm it with the attendees.
I go through my meetings and make sure that if I need a meeting room that I have remembered to book one. If I have booked one, I’ll normally ring or pop round to confirm that it’s still mine. Ever been bounced out of a room for someone else and not been told? Embarrassing.
Apparently this happens a lot in our government buildings in Westminster. I watched the documentary Inside the Commons recently and it was really interesting. One of the little facts I picked up about our government is that they have a full-time staff of people sorting out meeting room bookings, and a strict hierarchy of who gets to pull rank if they need a room.
Bonus Tip: What’s Going to Stop Me Next Week?
Finally, think about what is going to stop you achieving your goals next week. You’ve been through your diary and your To Do list; you know what is coming up. Check who is on holiday. While you can’t predict sickness, if you know someone is already off ill then think about how not having them around is going to affect your ability to complete your work.
There might be other things that could stop you: strike action on public transport, weather warnings, an important board meeting being rescheduled…anything. If you can prepare, do so. It will take the stress out of Monday (and it’s good risk management, on a small scale).
Here is my 30 minute miracle for for the end of the day at work that will make it easier for you to transition to home each evening. Doing that every night and streamlining your approach to get ready for next week will help you manage stress and be more productive at work.