How to Stop Dreading Mondays and Feel Motivated to Work

My tops tips to be a happier employee

How to Stop Dreading Mondays and Feel Motivated to Work

You see people sharing Monday Motivation quotes, but the last thing you can relate Monday to is to feel motivated. Don’t we all dread Mondays?

The alarm goes off in the morning, and you wake up to realize it’s another long week ahead. You have to grind through five whole days again before you’re allowed to have a brief moment of peace. Somehow the weekend passes off in a fly. And the cycle repeats.

It’s not just you; it’s the case for many of us. We are all in this mess together. I understand we can’t miraculously love Mondays, but something has to be done. And so I did. I tried various things to stop feeling the way I did.

Some worked, some didn’t. The surprising thing about the ones that worked was, they were simple to incorporate into my lifestyle. There’s hope, and I’m glad I discovered these techniques, which I am about to share with you.

Start with the Why

If you can’t get to the core problem, you’ll never solve it, period. Take this as an exercise and ask yourself why you’re dreading Mondays.

It’s often easy to blame it on the employer or the client, but hey, it’s your life, and you need to take control of it. I was constantly stressed, week after week, to the point I couldn’t handle it anymore. I realized the need to do something before it turns into a mental illness.

The key here is to address the problem as soon as you can. To me, the reasons were related to work:

  • I often have a lot of work to be done, and I’m stressed if I’d be able to complete them for the next week. I even doubted my skills to some extent.
  • I started feeling the imbalance of work and personal life. While my career was prospering, sadly, my personal life wasn’t. I started losing a purpose in life. It was scary.
  • Work used to be fun when I went physically to the office. Having worked remote for the past year, it isn’t anymore.

Simon Sinek, the author of the book “Start with Why”, keeps stressing about finding out the why in everything we do. The moment I realized why I was dreading Mondays, the rest felt easy.

So what do we do to stop dreading Mondays and find all the motivation to work?

Plan Your Next Week, Every Friday

Let’s be honest: we don’t get a lot of work done on Friday evenings anyway.

We want to be done with the week and enjoy the weekend. We start looking forward to going out on a Friday night. But the truth is, we’re not caring about the next week upfront and that will take a toll when we get back to work next week.

Laura Vanderkam puts this idea so well:

If you’ve planned your weeks on Fridays, that means you don’t have to plan on Mondays.

How to do this:

Block half an hour in your calendar every Friday. Take this scheduled time to assess 1) what you have accomplished during the week and 2) what your next steps are. It’s that simple yet effective.

A weekly self-checkout template created by author

You may use the template I made for myself or write them down on a piece of paper. The key is not to summarize the tasks but write everything down. Doing so have numerous benefits:

  • When you see how much you accomplished throughout the week, you will realize your self-worth and progress. There’ll be no room for self-doubts.
  • Since you have written down everything for next week, you’re allowed to forget about it entirely for the weekend. It helps you detach yourself from work for the weekend.

When you sit down next Monday, you do the first thing to read the weekly self-checkout sheet you wrote last Friday. At this point, it’s tempting for me to make promises on how you will feel, but try this for a few weeks and see the benefits for yourself.

Give Yourself a Non-negotiable Break Every Sunday

Did you expect to keep working and be motivated forever?

Last year I was overworking myself. I enjoyed it, but it took a toll on me. I was craving for vacation, but the pandemic environment wasn’t favouring it. Before I realized it, this was adding up to the stress.

Work all week and no fun, even if you pull it off, isn’t sustainable in the long run. The key here is to add a break to every week.

Niklas Göke perfectly points out why you should be taking a break:

To recharge, to think, to dabble. To get inspired, to enjoy life, and to process a phase of much activity.

How to do this:

Of course, if you enjoy travelling and it’s safe to do so, by all means, please go ahead. In the country I live in, it’s not normal yet, so I had to look for other alternatives.

Besides travelling, I enjoy movies and food. I made a non-negotiable agreement with myself. I will watch a new movie and home-cook something special every Sunday.

A Sunday home-cooked meal by author

I told my plan to everyone at home, so I remain accountable. My plans were feasible and something I enjoy the most. This led to much-needed family time.

Ask yourself, what do you enjoy the most?

It could be playing video games, hiking adventures, surfing the beach, romantic dinner with your loved ones and so on. Evaluate your options and sign a non-negotiable contract with yourself. Let your close-ones know about it for accountability.

You can’t gain motivation from thin air; it has to come from within. My Sunday breaks were easy yet left me recharged with lots of energy for the week ahead.

Find Ways to Make Your Work More Enjoyable

In the end, you need to be happy at work. Everything we talked about above will only help if you can make your work more enjoyable.

The surrounding uncertainty and lack of human connection can make your work life more stressful; there’s no denying that. This, too, shall pass, but we should try to add some fun to work in any possible way.

Laszlo Bock, Ex-Senior Vice President, People Operations at Google, has an idea that works so well:

Try a fun new ritual, like a virtual watercooler each morning or bringing pets to calls. A little connection goes a long way in these isolating times.

How to do this:

If most of you are busy at work, try joining meetings a few minutes early and chitchat informally. I don’t have a pet, but I’ve seen pets over video calls, and it’s fun.

On Microsoft Teams, when you start a virtual meeting a few minutes early, it sends a notification to the participants, and most will join instantly. You can use the time you wait for the participants to join the calls to check up on your colleagues.

A no-fancy invite to our last team bonding session. (Original Photo by kike vega on Unsplash)

If you’re feeling stressed, chances are your colleagues are feeling the same too.

Why not collectively organize a monthly team bonding session?

These could be some online games, quizzes, yoga sessions etc. We’ve had a couple of sessions so far, and, of course, they were terrific. It would be best if you took the initiatives to make your work life more enjoyable.

In Summary

We all dread exhausting work. We all want to do something that keeps us happy while paying the bills. It may look like a luxury now, but with some minor tweaks to your current lifestyle, it’s possible.

But first, if you dread Mondays, pause and ask yourself why. Please get to the core of it. Here’s a recap of what minor tweaks you can work on:

  • Making a conscious effort to plan your week every Friday.
  • Taking regular breaks. This is non-negotiable.
  • Taking initiatives at work to make it more enjoyable. Perhaps start with building small connections.

That’s all it took me.

See, that’s the thing about becoming better; you need to make small changes to your lifestyle and stick to it for long enough to see the results.

Most people don’t believe them. They never try.

You’re smart, so be different.

You got this.