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Be More Productive on Monday — and the Rest of the Week, Too

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tired in bed

There’s a reason most people dread Mondays: They’re notorious catch-up days. You answer the dozens of emails you neglected over the weekend and attempt to make sense of your triple-booked calendar for the week.

By the time you actually start working, it’s almost lunchtime. How did that happen again? No wonder Tuesday is thought to be the most productive day of the week. But it doesn’t have to be.

A few simple changes to your routine can rock your professional world. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Here are three ways you can make your Monday more productive:

1. Prioritize before you prioritize

Write down the top three tasks you know you have to get done that day. These are three tasks you were thinking about in the shower or while you were making your morning coffee. They’re probably on the top of your mind because they’re the most important or time-sensitive tasks of the day. Do them first.

If they’re cognitive in nature, it’s especially important you get started before noon, when your ability to focus starts decreasing for the day.

When making your list, don’t look at your calendar or email. Glancing at your calendar may seem harmless, but you’ll instantly be flooded with dozens of seemingly important tasks. It’ll make picking the top three more stressful than helpful.

When you finish a task, don’t forget to cross it off the list. If it’s a task that involves someone else in the office, celebrate the win. Celebrating the little wins will make your day more rewarding. Take a moment to high-five a colleague or buy yourself a cupcake — or both.

2. Do an email sprint, not a marathon

Checking email in the morning has become a bit taboo lately, for good reasons, but let’s be real here: You’ve got to check your email. So do a sprint instead. You know what you’re looking for, and with a quick one-minute scan of your inbox, you can flag anything urgent that needs to be answered immediately and ignore the rest.

Don’t even open the email if you know it can wait until the afternoon. Most things don’t matter, at least not immediately, but doing an email sprint will catch anything that does. As soon as your one-minute sprint is over, answer the urgent emails and move on to the first task on your priority list.

Wait. It’s only 9:30 and you’ve already prioritized your day and checked your email? Professional world rocked yet?

3. Take a break

A lap around the office, a quick read of the morning paper or even a nap if it’s allowed are all good ways to give your brain a boost. If you’ve been working on the same task for a while, but the ideas are no longer flowing freely, take a break. Listen to your brain telling you it can’t focus right now.

Short breaks can recharge your brain and help increase productivity. It may seem counterintuitive, but being unproductive in a constructive way (getting exercise, staying informed or sleeping) for a couple minutes will make you more productive for the next 60.

It’s possible to beat the odds and make Monday your most productive day. While these productivity hacks are especially important to implement on Mondays, they can help increase productivity at work on any day of the week. Start today.

Emma Zimmerman is Marketing Associate at Startup Institute, an international career accelerator offering transformative educational experiences for career changers and recent grads. Her work with early stage startups in Chicago led her to a company @StartupInst that increases the impact of startup employees and helps people find their passion.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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  • http://www.themobilejobsearch.com/ Matt Schmidt

    This is also relevant for scheduling job interviews. Avoid scheduling interviews on Mondays and Fridays. Mondays are like you say catch up days and Fridays have everyone waiting for the weekend.

    • Emma Zimmerman

      Great point. If given the choice, what do you think the best day to interview is?

  • Dan C

    From my point of view, the email sprint should be delayed as much as possible. If I know I’m not expecting any immediate tasks, I leave the checking for the late in the afternoon. Especially on Mondays.

    Proudly executing my daily job @ http://www.neobytesolutions.com

    • Emma Zimmerman

      Interesting thought — perhaps it differs depending on your role and how quickly you’re expected to respond? For me, there are always emails early in the morning that are time sensitive. If I don’t respond I might not get the sponsorship I’m asking for or an order won’t be placed in time.

      • Dan C

        If anything that urgent, there’s a door between me and the project manager, so it shouldn’t be a problem – “check your goddamn email!”. Otherwise, I prefer to keep my Mondays light and that involves the mail sprint (including personal emails)

      • heartbot

        It very much differs based on your role. I’m a project manager and frequently get e-mails from clients where I don’t find out until after a rambling paragraph in or reading through a lengthy e-mail thread someone’s forwarded me whether it’s important or not. And that’s most of my e-mails. So I read everything that might be important and then prioritize from there.

        I feel like not reading your e-mails is some sort of cool kid fad rather than a practical strategy for most people handling their work. This might explain why some of my colleagues don’t respond to urgent e-mails for several hours, or days, because they’ve been told reading their e-mails is bad for productivity. So instead, I have to go hunt them down through other channels when they don’t respond to my requests, which is bad for MY productivity.

  • Tony López – Eventos en Moreli

    really is difficult to work all the week, I work 9 hours daily!!, for me and my opinion the better that I do during the 9 hours I take a break!! this es my moment, this the moment when I can relax me!! I take more energy for continue mi job

    Eventos en Morelia

  • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

    Focusing on your top 3 task is putting the Pareto Principle into practice. Focusing on the 20% of your activities that produce 80% of your results.

    • Emma Zimmerman

      It certainly is! Gotta focus on that 20%.

      • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

        Thanks for sharing. It’s solid advise!

  • Bimbel online

    worked on that weekend so not mengasikan, akhirpekan is a time where we can gather with friends just off the end of the week we could bersenag senag with family. weekend breaks calming brain akhirpekan most fun if only it was just a day.

  • Anil

    very nice article