The Clean Slate Monday Theory

I like to start the week off with as clean a slate as possible. Mondays are tough, but a little preparation and perspective makes it a lot easier to get off to a good start.

For me, the Clean Slate Monday Theory consists of two components:

  1. Tying up loose ends
  2. Making a plan of attack

Both of these need to be completed in advance to ensure a smooth start to the week. Allow me to explain.

Tie Up Loose Ends

This is a matter of taking care of all the unfinished tasks that have accumulated over the course of the past week. For example, by the time Sunday rolls around, my living quarters are usually in disarray. My desk is cluttered, my bed is a mess, I should probably clean, and there’s a good chance I still haven’t put away my laundry.

Walking into this mess Monday morning is detrimental. We don’t realize it, but these little tasks weigh on us. A small part of your brain has to spend energy reminding you, “Oh, I still need to do this. Oh, I still need to do that…” The longer you have to remember to do something, the more mentally taxing that task becomes, which stresses us out.

I usually dedicate an hour to all these miscellaneous things on Sunday night. Clean the desk. Vacuum. Put the laundry away. Throw some new sheets on the bed. This helps me wake up Monday morning feeling calm because — quite literally — my slate is clean. It’s a much better feeling than waking up in the middle of a disaster area. “Happy Monday! Look at all this crap you still haven’t done.” That’s no good. The last thing I want is to have old stuff nagging at my attention at the start of a new week. Make it a fresh start.

Make a Plan of Attack

Tying up loose ends also enables you to successfully execute step two, which is to make a plan of attack. Starting the week with a clean slate is great, but not having a plan makes it easy to squander all that potential for productivity. Sometimes, figuring out what needs to get done is more difficult than actually accomplishing it.

Thus, make a plan in advance. What do I need to do tomorrow, and when? What’s the week look like as a whole? Write it down. You can get as granular as you like with your to-do list, as long as it makes good use of the clean slate created by tying up the previous week’s loose ends.

A Weekly New Year

Everybody hates Mondays, except for Shawn Blanc:

Mondays are my favorite day of the week for the same reason the morning is my favorite time of the day. The morning is when my mind is most clear — there is not yet the accumulation of “mental clutter” from the activities and worries of the day and the whole day looks like a blank canvas.

Shawn’s definitely got it right. Why is Monday so terrible, but New Year’s is so great? With the former, it’s “Ugh, another whole week of work.” Well, then on New Year’s it should be “Ugh, another whole year of work!”

The difference is that we see the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start, not as “back to the grind”. We should try to treat Monday the same way. Why not? Making an entire year bigger and better than all previous years is a lot of work, but making the next seven days as productive and enjoyable as possible? Much more manageable.

Mondays can be a source of stress if met unprepared. However, a clean slate — literally and mentally — can help start the week on a calm and productive note.

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