What does your Monday look like? Are you full steam ahead, tackling that massive to-do list with relentless energy, dashing from meeting to meeting, or is your Monday…a little more sedate?
Lately, I’ve been doing some work on the topic of burnout. You’re probably familiar with the term, but as a recap, burnout is by definition, a workplace issue.
The NZ Resident Doctors’ Association defines burnout as “fatigue and exhaustion caused by workplace stress”. While internationally the International Classification of Diseases defines burnout as the result of chronic workplace stress which has not been successfully managed, characterised by three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
As an HR practitioner, I am really interested in burnout, or rather—how we avoid it. How do we effectively promote and support work-life balance? What is the role of the organisation? How do we minimise ‘bad’ stress, while still allowing for times of positive stress? It’s an interesting topic. (We've also written about burnout —here's a blog written by Charlotte on this very topic)
It was while I was reading and researching, that I came across a new-to-me concept: Bare Minimum Mondays.
Intended to beat the “Sunday Scaries” or “Monday-itis”, and ultimately, avoid burnout, Tiktoker Marisa Jo Mayes popularised this term—which has since gone viral.
I admit I feel a little behind the eight-ball, learning about this many months after it was first released on Tiktok (I haven’t managed to get amongst the Tiktok craze – yet!) However, as I too have had the odd occasion of feeling flat on a Monday morning, when I’m usually pretty chirpy— I thought, this is a really fascinating idea, and potential tool in the fight against burnout.
Bare Minimum Mondays refers to a practice where employees self-simplify their tasks as much as possible on Mondays. It’s literally, doing the bare minimum! Bare Minimum Monday might involve working from home, starting the day off with a workout, picking up your groceries and sitting down at a café to work on your ‘to-do’ list for the week. It’s about having the freedom to choose what you need to do to set yourself up for success. What this involves will be different for all, but the key principle is to give yourself some grace on a Monday, and ease yourself into the working week.
In a recent Stuff article, Australian Marketing Manager Caitlin Winter is quoted as saying that she introduced this amongst her team and says that as a boss it’s been ‘one of the best decisions she’s ever made’. Mondays for her and her team include a short WIP check-in in the morning, but otherwise there are no meetings. Caitlin said that “it’s an opportunity to ease into the week not feeling burnt out from the get go and having the flexibility to do things you may not have gotten to on the weekend, or things that fill your cup and set you up for a good week”.
A fear that some may have, is how do you effectively deliver on your work if you’re ‘slacking off’ on a Monday? I think the key is to focus (like you should be already) on what you are delivering! Just because you ease into Monday, it doesn’t mean you aren’t also being efficient and effective the majority of the week. If you are a manager and have concerns about your staff not delivering, and their ability to perform, this is a separate issue, and should be managed as a separate conversation.
This flexibility is an opportunity to reflect on what you need to set yourself up for a good week. It challenges the ‘hustle culture’ that evangelises the concept of working all hours, all the time.
Would Bare Minimum Mondays work for you? (maybe you could try it out next Monday?) Are there any other strategies you have tried for managing the ‘Sunday scaries’? Or is this really an adaptation of the 4-day working week?
It’s important to find what works best for you and your organisation and what your people value. Flexibility, and the freedom to ease into the week, might just be something that resonates with your organisation!