Mondays are for planning

How giving themes to my days has helped me be more productive and less anxious

Published: February 5, 2024 Reading Time: 3 minutes stage: complete

A recent mindset shift I’ve experienced is that of giving themes to my days.

For the longest time, Mondays have been a source of anxiety for me. The week is starting, there is so much to do, and as soon as I wake up I feel like I’m already behind.

I used to abhor some of the sync meetings (the only ones we have during the week) with my team, because I felt they were a waste of time, and I could have used that time to do something else.

It turns out, the problem was me and not the calls, planning, or the day itself. As soon as I realized that, I decided to give Mondays a theme.

Mondays are for planning.

I now wake up less anxious, knowing that I have a full day to review the previous week, assess what went well and what didn’t, and plan the current week accordingly.

Mondays now feel like a workout warmup, they can be boring, but they are a prerequisite to get the most out of the work that comes after.

It might sound weird but after a few weeks of doing this, I now even look forward to Mondays.

Wake up, stretch, walk the dog, journal, make breakfast for the family, make coffee and sit down to review everything that happened last week, and plan the current one. When I get to the first call I’ve already closed open loops, reviewed priorities and our most important projects, and I’m pumped to start the week.

Fundamental to this routine is to have a checklist, a sort of flight plan, of how the review and planning need to happen.

I first do a brain dump of everything that’s top-of-mind and making me anxious. Anything from personal chores I didn’t do to important company events or milestones, I just jot everything down.

Then I review my calendar. I look at the previous week to see if I missed anything important, and also look at least one to two weeks in the future to see if there are any important events coming up. If there’s anything that I need to act on, it goes into my task manager inbox (I use ClickUp ).

The next step is to clear all my inboxes :

Downloads and desktop folder. Delete most files, organize the few that are needed (invoices, pdfs, etc.). I also clear my physical desk of any old notecards and papers that are no longer needed.

Email inbox. I do a very fast pass archiving everything that doesn’t seem important. If I need to act on something, I add it to my ClickUp inbox otherwise I just archive it. If something is important it will resurface at some point.

ClickUp inbox. At this point, everything that seemed important is captured in my task manager. I take some time to clear this inbox and ensuring that everything is in the right place and has the right priority.

Once the ClickUp review is done, I scan the list and write down my top 3 priorities for the week on a standard 4x6 notecard I keep on my desk.

In all, this routine takes me between 30 and 45 minutes which are totally worth it, after I’m done I know there are no open loops, my anxiety is gone, and I’m ready to start the week.