‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.’ – Epictetus
I know this quote is supposed to be comforting when something shitty happens to you but I think it applies to every day as well. Do you know what’s shit? Getting up every day and going to work. Even if you like your job, we’d all rather sit in the park and eat cheese, wouldn’t we? Or stay in bed with a furry friend and watch Gilmore Girls re-runs. Do you know what else is shit? Eating salad every day and exercising. It’s hard. Sitting down and eating doughnuts is heaps better.
Unfortunately, as adults, most of our lives revolve around making sensible choices because there are adverse consequences if we don’t. We can’t tell our bosses to go fuck themselves because then we lose our jobs and can’t pay for things. We don’t have pizza and frozen cheesecake for dinner every night because we don’t want to die of heart disease before we have the chance to live off our superannuation we’ve been diligently growing since we first got jobs. All of this, day in, day out can make you feel like you don’t have much control over your life. Which, is sadly quite accurate.
We can’t control the necessity of having to function as adults in a civilised society. What we can control is how we respond to this necessity. If you wake up on most Monday mornings and you’re basically a walking thundercloud, here are a few things you can do to brighten your mood and have a kick-butt week. You have to ‘do’ this week either way right? So you might as well try to enjoy it.
1. Don’t get the Monday grumps
Yeah, look. Mondays do suck a bit; I’ll give you that. The weekend is so far away, and there’s so much boring stuff to do between now and then. It’s not like Wednesday when the week is half over, or Friday The Best Day of The Week. It’s Monday. Like a way too enthusiastic trainer at the gym who’s all ‘Let’s work on those abs!’ and you’re like ‘Um… I was planning on reading a 2011 Vogue magazine while ambling on the treadmill. Please go away.’
I have a theory that Mondays set the tone for the week. If I get up on a Monday morning, hit the gym, sit at my desk and start smashing out my work, the rest of the week kind of gets the hint that I mean business. When you start the week with a solid sparkly attitude and a bit of Rocky Balboa stamina, it sets the tone for a kick-butt week. If you drag yourself to work and you spend the first 45 minutes grumpily procrastinating, you’re setting yourself up for a lazy and unfulfilling week. Think of it this way: you have to do work no matter what, and it’s going to be a lot harder and more painful if you let the Monday Blues take over. Concentrate on re-framing your attitude. That might mean listening to an inspiring podcast on the way to work (episodes 89, 90 and 56 of Straight & Curly will get you in the mood). You could also read an article from a blogger you admire (Alexandra Franzen’s stuff is excellent – irreverent and sensible, just the way I like my lifestyle writers) or writing out some positive morning pages to get yourself in a killer mindset for the day.
2. Embrace the Inbox Zero policy
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I go apeshit when people have 10k unread emails in their inboxes. People actually send me screenshots of their particularly horrific inbox notifications just to upset me. The internet is an evil place.
If you are as yet unfamiliar with the concept of inbox zero, read this article on how to end your day with an empty inbox. I end every day with an empty inbox. I wouldn’t be able to switch off if I didn’t. I sometimes schedule emails to reappear later in the week, when I have the time or information I’m waiting for to answer said email, but having that empty inbox every afternoon allows me to have total mental freedom in my evenings which is incredibly important for my wellbeing during the workweek.
It also stops that slow avalanche of emails piling up and the inevitability of you having to spend your entire Friday afternoon dealing with emails. What a shit way to end the week. I also don’t answer emails during the day, I lock myself out my inbox for most of the day and do a half an hour slam session in the afternoon, and it works brilliantly. Half my issue is I hate ‘finding’ things. Most days I have an editor emailing me asking for a headshot, a bio, an article I wrote for them six months ago or my media kit. I have all this stuff organised into folders, but for some reason, if I have to attach something to an email, it makes me not reply straight away. I combat this by batching, I wait until the end of the day and tackle them all once. That way I’m only wading into Dropbox for one 20 minute period rather than once every hour all day.
3. Do that thing you don’t want to do
Don’t put off the thing you’ve been avoiding, get it done ASAP in the week. Otherwise, you know what will happen? You’ll keep putting it off, and putting it off and thinking about it and it will ruin every day of the week and not just the first day of the week when you should be getting it done. For example this week? I’m finishing my next four patterns for Crochet Coach. I LOVE designing, I love making practice swatches of stitches I might use, I love filming my lessons and I ADORE actually crocheting stuff. Writing patterns? Hate it. I hate it so much. You know why? Because it’s really hard and I have to concentrate. If I make a single mistake, I could ruin someone’s project. It’s a lot of pressure.
However, rather than putting it off and getting behind in my schedule, I’m just going to put my big girl pants and get writing. Also to be fair, I hate the idea of writing patterns more than actually writing them. I was the same with essays in high school. I’d be all ‘Urgh! I don’t WANT to write an essay about Sylvia Plath!’ and then I’d start researching it, and within in an hour I’d be fully into it and actually enjoying it. Same with pattern writing, once I hit my stride, I get off on doing all the calculations, and the satisfaction of all my maths working out is unbeatable. Hard tasks are hard. Der. However, once you’re IN them, they’re rarely as bad as you thought they were.
4. Show up
A few years ago a mate of mine got fired from her job, and even though she hated her job, it was brutal. She had to do the whole packing up her desk in front of security thing, and they locked her out of their work system without letting her send an email from her work system. This was standard practice, but my friend was devastated, and it took her a long time to get over it. When she finally did and was at a new job she loved, we went out for dinner to catch up.
Halfway through dinner she brought up her old workplace and started banging on about what assholes they were for firing her. I’m a bit of a devil’s advocate and seeing as she was in a good place, I lightly pointed out how she hated that job and treated it like a joke. She’d often show up hungover and had whole days where she didn’t do anything (I knew this because I’d receive four emails saying how bored she was) and she actively dissed the place on all her social media platforms. I then pointed out how much she loves her new job. She’d driven to dinner that night because she didn’t want to drink too much because she had a big presentation the next day and she was also participating in a workplace fitness challenge. I wasn’t surprised at all when she got fired from her old position because she didn’t show up to it.
If you value your job and you want to be a contributing member of your workplace, you have to show up. Even if it’s not where you want to be right now, or you think you’re destined for bigger and better things. If someone is paying to work for them, it’s pretty shit not to give them the best value for their money.
5. Use Friday afternoon to prepare for Monday
I never schedule anything for Friday afternoons so I can catch up on ‘those things’. Sending important emails, finishing touches on articles, invoices, collating materials for editors and getting ahead for Monday. You should be prepared for Monday morning before clocking off on Friday, that way you get a proper rest over the weekend and your brain is in a good place for start and fresh and clean on Monday morning.