I’ve never fully understood the 5-day work week. I always knew it existed, but like most people, I never questioned why. Our whole lives we go to school Monday — Friday, rest Saturday and Sunday and resume the cycle again on Monday. It’s just how life is. Always waiting for the weekend.
For my church-going friends, Sundays were described as a day of rest. As someone whose parents never fully explained religion to me, I never really got the whole “day of rest” thing anyways. Sundays were the days my dad mowed the lawn and the days I scrambled to finish all of the homework I put off. Sundays were full of stress and quick glances at the clock only to find that it’s now 6 pm and I’ve somehow still accomplished nothing productive.
When adult life rolls around and you inevitably end up working at a job you hate, you try to re-embrace the whole “day of rest” thing, but somehow Sundays go from a day of rest into a day of dread. At my lowest, I was working a job whose very existence required me to stay heavily meditated to appease nausea I would feel whenever I thought about it.
As Monday morning got closer, haunting energy loomed around me. With every hour that passed by, I knew my Sunday was slipping away, and soon I would have to live through another week just counting down the days until the weekend again.
When I eventually left my job and pursued self-employment, a subtle shift started happening. I no longer related to the whole concept of working for the weekend, because I could essentially work whenever I wanted. Having the choice is what changed everything.
It’ weird when you realize that your way of thinking is different than it used to me. Now, I actually look forward to the start of the week, and as the weekend rolls around a slight bit of dread hits me because I feel like I’m running out of weekday time to accomplish the rest of my to-do list. Even though the Monday morning dread is lessened, there’s still guilt about not doing enough, not using time wisely and not being more productive.
One way I’m trying to regain control is by getting ahead of the things that I need to do on a week to week basis. At some point, I decided that weekdays and weekends were arbitrary rules and I was allowed to make choices about when I work, as long as things get done.
One of those choices was to intentionally work on Sundays. I’m not talking a full 8 hours, but I always make it point to look at my to-do list and find ways to relieve some of the burdens that hit on Monday mornings.
Getting a headstart on the week reduces Monday morning dread
Monday mornings used to be my own personal hell. The looming Monday morning meetings and aimless small talk about what you did that weekend made me sit on my bed and question all of my life choices that led me to that moment. My body ached for a few more hours of the weekend and my mind sifted through all of the crap that I didn’t accomplish the week before that was now waiting for me at work.
Working an office job that didn’t allow any flexibility to work from home meant that working on a Sunday meant actually going to the office. To make it even worse, when I was an hourly employee, it meant having to get that time approved. Basically, there was no flexibility for me to work on the weekend unless I did on my own time and my own dime. And since I hated my job, I refused to give them any more time than they already took from me.
Now that I work from home and am self-employed, my Mondays look a lot different. But the feeling that a pile of client emails and new project are right around the corner brings back that same feeling of anxiety. For me, managing my anxiety means regaining control of things as much as I can.
Setting weekly intentions and getting my tasks in order
Now, I work on Sundays because I can and because I want to. I enjoy getting ahead of my week. I enjoy working during a time that I know will be uninterrupted by emails and Slack notifications. I enjoy being able to prioritize my own growth and tackling projects that seem impossible during the week.
I reserve some time on Sundays to list out the things I anticipate are coming on Monday morning. I send out reminder emails and schedule check-ins to send so that I don’t have to scramble to get them out manually on Monday morning. I outline things that need to be done and try to get as much planning done before that Sunday evening dread sets in.
It’s the perfect time to tackle personal projects
Clients are offline and my emails are quiet. I don’t have to feel guilty about working on things for myself and not my clients. I use that time to write as much as possible, plan out new content, update my website and explore some new creative opportunities that I don’t have as much time to focus on during the week.
My passion projects feel so much more manageable on the weekend. And when I can actually dedicate uninterrupted time to planning them out, I’m so much less stressed about finding time to do work on them during the week.
Using Sundays for reflection and planning
I like to take stock of what I did the week before, and what I can improve in the upcoming week. Doing some of the traditional Monday morning work on Sunday afternoon means that my Sunday nights can be about reflection and relaxation.
Previously, the thought of a new week being a new opportunity for great things made me gawk at the gross optimism of that statement. But doing little things like these help me feel so much more in control of my life and make me grateful for the flexibility I have in my job. I never knew that starting the week could be a moment of zen.
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