How to Master Mondays

Plan ahead and stay in the moment to ward off ‘Sunday Blues’

Hands holding a coffee mug.

On Sunday evenings, Krystan Remaley has a routine.

The staff assistant at the Duke Eye Center grabs a pen and spiral notebook and writes a list of things to do on Monday.

Krystan Remaley sets the stage for a new week by writing down a game plan each Sunday in a notebook. Photo by Stephen Schramm.“There’s something about writing it down that helps clear my mind,” Remaley said. “I know what I’ve got to do.”

Marking the end of the weekend, Mondays can be daunting. But learning how to manage the start of the work week can be a major step toward enjoying everything that comes before and after Monday.

With help from Duke experts, here’s how you can make the most out of Monday.

Make a plan

Remaley started making her Sunday lists a few years ago, when Mondays left her scattered and overwhelmed.

At work, Mondays are when she organizes and distributes a weekend’s worth of messages and firms up the week’s appointments.

Joy Birmingham, assistant director of leadership and professional development for Duke’s Learning & Organization Development (L&OD), said making a plan is a simple and effective step to avoid feeling ambushed on Monday.

“It’s important to have a plan instead of thinking ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do?’” Birmingham said. “Even if you have one or two things on your to-do list to start your Monday, it’s excellent.”

Remaley makes her list on Sunday, but you can plan for the start of a new week on Friday. 

“When it’s written down, I think ‘Why am I stressing about that?” Remaley said. “Everything seems manageable.”

Ease in

Birmingham spends much of her week teaching courses, but she tries to avoid teaching on Mondays.

She knows how she works best. And having some time on Monday to prep for the week is an important beat in her work rhythm.

“It’s important to know what your work flow is and take steps to make Monday not as abrupt,” Birmingham said.

Appreciate Sundays

Knowing that the weekend is coming to an end can create the “Sunday Blues.”

Noga Zerubavel, assistant professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said that when feelings of anxiety or malaise hit, it’s important to not lose sight of the moment and enjoy your Sunday.

“The thing that is causing our suffering isn’t in the present moment,” Zerubavel said. “We’ve darted into the future and that brings down our mood.”

Zerubavel, an expert on mindfulness, suggests consciously focusing on savoring the weekend’s last moments. Happy, healthy Sundays can steel you for the week to come.

“If we realize that we’re stealing from the moment we want more of, we can shift back into the present,” Zerubavel said.

Get help managing your work flow with Learning & Organization Development courses: hr.duke.edu/training