Case of the Mondays... on Sunday.
September 26, 2010 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I spend Sundays "mentally preparing" for work on Monday instead of enjoying myself. How can I change this?

My job used to be stressful. I had too much work and believed everything was on my shoulders. So, I used to work on Sundays to "get ahead". My workload has improved and I no longer have to do this, but I still feel the same.

I've let go of the passion I originally had for the job, which I thought might help – I think it has hurt, because I now dread going to work.

I spend Sundays tense and reserved. Any tips on reclaiming my full weekend?
posted by jacobjacobs to Work & Money (19 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I know this sounds kind of flip, but I've been in your position. If you really want to change this, get a new job.
posted by orville sash at 11:57 AM on September 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

All the stuff you normally do on Saturdays? The list stuff and projects and errands? Do that on Sunday instead. Saturday is your new Sunday; spend it relaxing.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:00 PM on September 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

I make a list on Friday of things I need to jump on immediately on Monday morning. Since I know I made the list when I was in "work mode" I find I don't have anxiety about work stuff over the weekend because I know it's all teed up and ready to be handled. I also know, though experience, that having a relaxing and restful weekend is necessary for me to recharge and have a good work week: Worrying about work will only make the actual time I spend working less productive, so not relaxing is the enemy of work.
posted by donovan at 12:03 PM on September 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

Try to find something you like and plan it for Sunday evening. I used to always rent a couple of movies and order a pizza every Sunday night. Gave me something to look forward to.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:03 PM on September 26, 2010

i do this as well! AND I DON'T EVEN WORK MONDAYS! emotional residues from the school schedule i guess.

now, i schedule at least a few nice things for sunday -- breakfast out, dogs to the park, baking a cake, a tv binge with my sweetie, driving range, a really long run, a dance class, making a bigass chili for the week, etc. schedule and commit to doing something you enjoy! i *do* find that i have to often remind myself to snap out of that "dread" feeling and enjoy the day and the moment i'm in -- but i seem to be having to do so less and less.

& sunday morning by maroon 5, & sunday morning by k-os, back-to-back, help remind me to enjoy the day :)
posted by crawfo at 12:06 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with iamkimiam. I now have a one day weekend (I work Sundays, and have a random weekday off). I really miss two day weekends, because it's like each day off is a Sunday, which is kind of stinky. The thought of "I have to work tomorrow!" is always there in the back of my mind. So spend Saturday hanging around, reading books, going to movies/the park/etc. Then sleep in on Sunday, and when you do get going, it can be your "grocery shopping for the week/laundry/whatever" day.

On preview: +1 for something fun/planned on Sunday evening. I have a friend who has a movie night club with a few friends (and they're kind of obsessive about it, they have a blog and other people are invite only and whatnot). I know they look forward to it all weekend long.
posted by AlisonM at 12:08 PM on September 26, 2010

Join a Sunday sport team.
Do something special for dinner on Sundays- cook with someone you like, order in, etc.
Plan something fun for Monday mornings (breakfast on the way to work?) or Monday nights (sports, class, social activity, etc) so you can focus on that, instead of on work.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:16 PM on September 26, 2010

Can you create a new association in your mind in regards to Sundays? For example, if you used Sundays to work ahead, then replace that activity with a new one that you will reserve for Sundays. In time you should start to associate that day with something more pleasant - or at least, not as unpleasant.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:18 PM on September 26, 2010

Plan something fun for Monday mornings (breakfast on the way to work?) or Monday nights (sports, class, social activity, etc) so you can focus on that, instead of on work.

I agree with this as well, in fact I do it too. I usually bring in coffee and breakfast to work from home, but on Mondays I treat myself to a latte and a bagel. Little things like this help me -- you might need something a bit more substantial but the idea is still the same: find something about Monday to look forward to.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:20 PM on September 26, 2010

Sunday champagne brunch and an afternoon matinee series of classic movies. Full belly, buzzing on Bloody Marys and culture cures all wounds.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:22 PM on September 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

I used to be this way too - I'd stress all weekend about what I needed to do Monday, because I usually left in a rush on Friday with things not done or still in progress or waiting on a reply from someone else. Now I do basically what donovan does - at the end of my day on Friday I go over all my lists and outstanding commitments and make my Monday morning list. That way I can get right to work, and I don't have to spend all weekend worrying about what I might have left undone when I left the office.

Another thing I did when I still worked in an office was to take a few minutes on Sunday night before I went to bed and make sure that everything I needed to take to work on Monday was ready to go, including having my clothes picked out. That way I could get a good nights sleep knowing that when I woke up Monday morning there wasn't going to be a mad scramble to get out the door.
posted by ralan at 12:35 PM on September 26, 2010

I'm in the exact same boat, having spent most of today fighting the mental voice that is saying, "aw crap, it's Sunday, the weekend is almost over." And this is a guy who loves his job.

I've gotten pretty good about building in Sunday rituals that take me out of the blues, and actually have me looking forward to Sunday. In my specific case: My wife and the kids go to church, so I spend Sunday morning either at the bookstore or fishing (I'm a heathen, I know). I spend an hour or two Sunday evening playing Xbox with a glass of bourbon. Then at 8, my kids and I watch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and talk about how fortunate we are to have a house and our health.

(Cheesy as all hell, I realize, but it makes Sundays good, and for us it has the added benefit of getting some awesome time with the kids, having conversations we might not otherwise have.)

I think it's equally important to have something to look forward to early in the week, to kinda carry the thing full-circle. For us, it's Totally Taco Tuesdays. (We eat tacos on Tuesdays, FYI.)
posted by jbickers at 12:54 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Really great suggestions so far! IMO it's generally a good idea to stop unwanted behaviour by replacing it with positive ones (like DrGirlfriend and others are advocating), rather than just trying to stop, period.

There are 2 more strategies that might also help here:

1. Establish a "worry time". This can be something like 8-9pm on Sunday night, and is the only time you're allowed to sit and fret about work. Any time you find yourself having those "OMG what were those 3 things I had to get done by Monday afternoon??" thoughts, stop yourself. Tell yourself that you will think about that, but not until 8-9pm that night. (Some people even designate a "worry chair" in which they sit and have uninterrupted, focused worry time.)

The idea is that you're not distracted throughout your day with intrusive thoughts about work, but you're also avoiding anxiety that might come from simply trying NOT to worry about work at all.

2. Wear a rubber band around your wrist. Any time you start thinking about work on Sunday, snap the band. This works as both a mental and physical reminder to stop what you're doing. It also has the benefit of associating the work-related worry with a (slightly) aversive stimulus. This can be also be done in conjunction with #1 if you like.

Good luck! (...from someone who could probably stand to worry a bit *more* about work during weekends! :D)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 12:57 PM on September 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Start trying to separate - as much as you can - work and non-work time in general. If you're not at work and you start thinking about work- STOP (they're not paying you for this time, it's your time) use a rubber band on your wrist or whatever works for you to stop these thoughts before they build. Use your commute to work to get you ready for the day ahead and reversely on your way home, resolve what you need to for the day. Once you get out of the car/bus/train, leave work behind you.

If you can try to use this way of thinking, you reclaim not only your Sundays, but all your other free time from work as well.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:03 PM on September 26, 2010

Can you spend some time on Friday getting everything put away and finished, then take some time to prep everything to pick it back up on Monday morning. If you've done everything you can to prepare for Monday it might be easier for you to let things go over the weekend. Even if it means you spend an extra hour on Friday night, you're gaining a whole day of worry free time.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:16 PM on September 26, 2010

I used to experience this a lot. I called it the Sunday Dooms. It really felt quite crippling, like time was literally being stolen from me. It was also tied in with a lot of money stress, loneliness and the strains of living in London. Sunday was generally the day when I had a hangover from drinks I couldn't afford, had spent most of the morning in bed (alone again, boo) and began to brood about going back to work.

Three things have helped immeasurably:

1) I changed jobs. I still work hard, but I deeply enjoy my work now and very long hours are not the norm. Most of my work is also standalone project work, so I can plan and execute at my own pace, assuming I hit ultimate deadlines.
2) While I enjoy my work and love the company I work for (as a collection of people, not the abstract entity), I have ceased to identify myself solely by what I do. It's an exchange of money for time, so the company doesn't get time they haven't paid for (i.e. evenings and weekends). I balance this apparent mercenary attitude with a commitment to my work and doing a range of things not really required in my contract (I run our intranet, I edit a weekly newsletter for the company etc). In other words, I don't show my commitment by hours worked or emails answered outside of working hours, I show it in quality, depth and breadth of work.
3) I'm married, I don't live in London anymore and I'm working on Sunday activities that get me out of the house for the full day (it's tough to brood about work when you're halfway up a hillside or out for a run with a friend). I saw a great response in a thread the other day about not 'letting people live rent-free in your head'. This is similar - your work is a major part of how and where you live your life, so it is somewhat natural that it will 'leak' into other parts of your life. Those leaks need to be fought.

Good luck. It's a tough balance to find, but it is possible. I think the most important thing I've learned about working life is that toxic working environments and destructive approaches are usually founded on false or unreasonable assumptions, on both sides. I have been quite surprised as I have progressed in my career that many of the unwritten 'rules' about how you get on in your career are largely bullshit. Do the best work you can and make clear separations between home and work, for your own sanity and productivity's sake.

Also, enable auto on/off on your Blackberry or equivalent. I set this up on a coworkers BlackBerry and he said I'd probably saved his marriage.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:03 AM on September 27, 2010

all the above is good.

two things that help me (I don't always do it, but they help when I do) is:
1. make a list of Monday to-do's on Friday afternoon.
2. Do something physically exhausting and engaging on Sunday. A long hike, yardwork, clean out the garage, etc. As your body relaxes afterward, it will help calm your mind, and it'll help you wind down that afternoon/evening. And whatever you do, don't nap--it'll just make it hard for you to get to sleep that night.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:35 AM on September 27, 2010

I think there are two different aspects to this problem, both of which I can identify with.

The first is spending Sunday "mentally preparing" (your words) for Monday. I n'th the advice above that Friday afternoon is the time to prepare for Monday morning. If you are into "Getting Things Done" (GTD), and I am, you should block out two hours, or however long you need, on your Friday calendar for a meeting with yourself when you do your weekly review, get your lists up to date and map out exactly what you're going to be doing the following week. This time is sacrosanct and NEVER gets re-allocated. I do mine on Friday morning, because I invariably come across half a dozen "must do before the weekend" items, and this leaves me time to get them done. This helps to keep next week's agenda out of my "psychic RAM" over the weekend and reduces the worry that I've left something vital undone at the end of the week.

The second problem is the tougher one, of "dreading" (your word again) going back to work on Monday - which I think you need to separate out from the first. I get the Sunday blues regularly and it's usually a sign I'm over-tired and run down and need to take a day or two of holiday to recharge. I can get caught in a self-reinforcing loop here. The more tired I get, the less I do on Sunday to build up my energy for Monday. But the less I do on Sunday, the longer and darker the shadow cast by the coming Monday and the more stressed I get, defeating the object of having a quiet day. So no matter how tired I am, I try and keep my Sunday relaxation active, mentally and physically, rather than passive. For me, that often involves a 50 mile bike ride, but YMM(literally)V on that.

[On preview, thinkingwoman has it shorter and neater.]
posted by genesta at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2010

Moving errands and play time around to keep you busy on Sunday is a great idea. But a lot of this is going to simply come from you forcing yourself to not think about work; when you mind starts to think about Monday, you just have to say "Nope. that's work week stuff. This is the weekend!" And then force you mind onto more leisurely trains of thought.

This is not an easy thing to do. It took me ages to let work go on the weekends, but in terms of quality of life, training yourself to leave work at work, is immeasurable.
posted by quin at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2010

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