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.