Gretchen Rubin

This Wednesday: Five tips for making your schedule work better (with particular emphasis on coping with Mondays.)

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Five tips for making your schedule work better (with particular emphasis on coping with Mondays).

Over the last few weeks, unrelated to each other, a few friends happened to mention to me that they’d made minor changes to their approach to scheduling their work, with dramatic results.

These changes demonstrate the usefulness of paying attention to our own idiosyncratic rhythms – when we feel like buckling down, when we feel like goofing off.

1. One friend used to hate the frantic rush of Monday mornings, but now he comes into work Monday morning without any expectations for himself until after lunch. He lets himself do easy work like checking email, reading email newsletters, and doing more substantial tasks IF he feels like it, but doesn’t consider himself “at work” until 1:30. The result? He gets about as much done as he did before – he just feels less pressure.

2. Also on the subject of Mondays -- one of my former roommates has always suffered from the Sunday Blues. Now she deals with it by making sure she has something to look forward to on Monday: she schedules lunch with a friend, excuses herself from some daily task that she doesn’t enjoy, or figures out some other way to improve the day. Once Monday morning comes, she’s always fine – she just suffers from dread on Sunday. Having something pleasant to anticipate lessens the feeling.

3. Another friend gets to work at 8:00 a.m. but doesn’t react to anything until 10:00.m. He only works on tasks that he’s set himself. By not answering email or working on someone else’s request until 10:00, he takes care of his own priorities first.

4. Studies show that the brain is often better able to tackle cognitive tasks before noon. A friend of mine noticed that this was true for him, so now he loads all his serious intellectual work into the morning, and uses the time after lunch for meetings, easier work, and going to the gym.

5. The change I’ve made in my approach to my schedule is – don’t expect to have a regular schedule. I love routine and predictability, but the way my life is right now, every day is different. For a while, that made me felt frustrated and inefficient. Now I’m trying to embrace and enjoy it.

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