Over the past few years, I’ve been working on balancing work, life, and side-hustles. I’ve tried different strategies on keeping up my motivation throughout the week to be productive. Before I only had to juggle school and work, which wasn’t as difficult since I was single and cat-less. But now that I am married with two cats, things are different!
(Note: My cats are my children, yes. #catlady)
I have had really productive weeks and then super-sucky weeks. I’ve also had extremely productive days, and then days that I can’t even muster the energy to make a cup of coffee. I started paying attention to how my body, mood, and motivation waver over the past few years, and I’ve realized that there are certain parts of my week that can either help or destroy any productivity for the entire week.
In this post, I’m going to talk about a few tips that I’ve picked up from over the years on how to get over the Monday blues and stay productive throughout the week. These are tips from individuals like Tim Ferris, my awesome mom, and also just things that I have learned about my own work ethic. I’ve talked a little bit about productivity before in my blog post about blocking my schedule, but this will be a post more about preparing for the week in general.
I hope that some of these tips are useful or helpful, but I would love to hear from you as well. Staying motivated isn’t a once-achieved-always-have type of goal, it’s continually evolving. Let me know what has worked for you or what definitely hasn’t worked for you in the comments below!
Sunday Night Preparation
One of the biggest predictors of my week’s productivity and success level is how I spend my Sunday nights. Sometimes the routine that I like to do is just not realistic because of either weekend plans or work-overload. However, I try my best to stick to these few things that I need to get done to set the week up for success.
1. Meal Preparation
My husband and I decide what we are going to eat for the week, and we spend Sunday night preparing, cooking, and storing the food. This is great for a few reasons. First, it ensures that we have a delicious meal on Sunday nights together.
We work different shifts, so our priority on the weekends is to do everything together, even the chores. So having one big meal on Sunday evenings is a great way to cap off a great weekend and get us mentally prepared for the rest of the week. Second, it takes away the stress of trying to figure out what to cook throughout the day. When I know I can come home, pull out a ziplock box of food, or that I have freshly cooked Turkey for a nice sandwich, then I don’t have to worry about using extra energy on cooking, or on figuring out what I want to eat.
After our dinner on Sundays, my husband and I usually watch a movie or the news. I’ve always been someone who needs to be active while watching a movie (knitting, playing with the cats, etc.), I just don’t like sitting- unless it’s after work and I just genuinely don’t have any more energy.
So I will write out my weekly to-do list. I break my to-do list into different categories: Chores, Work, A Simple Cookie, and Workouts. Once I’ve separated my page into these different categories I prioritize each column by things that need to get done the earliest, or the most difficult tasks. I’ve heard from people that if you carry something over to the next week more than three times, it just isn’t going to happen. So I try my best to make carry-over activities from previous weeks, if I have any, a top priority.
If it is a really busy week, I’ll break these to-do lists down into days. So, after I write my big to-do list, on the back of the page I’ll separate out the page into days and write each activity or objective for each day of the week, so I can evenly spread the tasks around.
Having my to-do list and checklist done before I wake up Monday morning lets me wake up and go. There is no hesitation on what to start first, or even what to do. My mind is focused and clear with the goals already set for me to accomplish. For some people, this is overwhelming. Seeing a long checklist on the morning of Monday, but for me, it works, so I keep doing it.
3. Chores I won’t do during the week
The weekends are also when I do laundry and deep clean the kitchen. These are two things I know through experience that I just won’t do during the week. They take a little bit more time. By the time I usually get around to doing them, I am rushing out the door on my way to work. I prioritize doing these two activities on the weekend, so there is no worry about them not getting done throughout the week.
Amount of Sleep
There is a lot of research out there about how much sleep you need to be healthy. However, because of the American values of focusing on work, career success, and overtime/take hom work, it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve that necessary amount of sleep every night.
It’s amazing how many people I hear tell me that they can “do” with just five hours of sleep every night. Yes, maybe that is true. But I have high doubt that it is sustainable, nor is it healthy. The average adult needs from seven to eight hours of sleep every night. This study says that most adults get less than six, especially those working in the health and safety industries. But in general adults in the USA are mostly losing sleep over stress caused by jobs, deadlines, and family matters.
Since I’ve started working night shifts, I get bad bouts of insomnia at least twice a month. I’ve had to work to find strategies to counter these sleepless nights. But it’s a priority for me. I know how I feel when I don’t get enough sleep, and I know how I act. It’s not pretty. So for my sake, and for everyone else’s sake, I have to prioritize my sleep. That being said, it’s a struggle to accomplish this. With everything on my plate, at least I work on it.
And last but not least, having a mouthwatering breakfast in the morning. I am a breakfast person. Not an eggs-and-bacon9type breakfast person. But I love having something just slightly sweet but healthy in the morning (like my mom’s breakfast cookies!). I have discovered over the years that if I have breakfast ready, or at least available, that I really love in the morning, I am more likely to actually get up in a good mood and get to work.
I know, I know. Using food as motivation is looked down upon by many people and many nutritionists. But you know what? Everything in moderation. Also, if I know I have a great breakfast in the morning, I am less likely to overeat in the evening when I get home from work. For some reason looking forward to that breakfast allows my mind to not over-indulge in sweets or crackers right before bed.
So, what do you think? What do you do to get you successfully through the week? Let us know in the comments below!