July 22nd, 2009 | 1:00 pm

5 Ways To Make Mondays Better

filed under Expert Answers

A New WeekBy Elizabeth Harrin (London)

Do you dread Mondays?  Is it always a hassle to get out of bed after the weekend and drag yourself to the office?  It doesn’t have to be like that, says Roxanne Emmerich, CEO of Emmerich Financial, a consulting firm specialising in community banks.  She has a stack of tips in her new book, Thank God it’s Monday!  Here are The Glass Hammer’s favourites, designed to help you start the week with a spring in your step.

1.  Measure progress

You can’t tell how well (or how badly) you are doing if you don’t measure.  Find ways of tracking your tasks:  challenge yourself to keep your email inbox down to less than 100, or set a target for the number of phone calls you will make to customers this week.  Women are great at measuring:  weight, exercise hours, calories – we track all sorts of things in our heads without thinking, and work should be no different.  Targets are motivating, and when you’ve hit your target for this week, make next Monday’s target even tougher.

“Measure your progress, stay accountable and get results regardless of all obstacles,” Emmerich says.  “Set your own unreasonable goals.  Don’t wait for someone else to request it of you.  Those that have great success in life are driven by goals beyond what others expect of them.”

2.  Be present

How often do you find yourself on the phone to someone and finishing off an email at the same time?  Or checking your BlackBerry in a meeting and just quickly whizzing off a message when you should be listening to the discussion? 

You’ll get more out of Mondays if you make the choice to participate fully in what you do:  commit to being productive and understand how your job fits into and supports the corporate strategy.  Equally, when you are at home, be properly at home. Don’t take work home with you and commit to being with your family or friends. 

“Make the choice to participate fully,” Emmerich says.  “For everything you do today, whether it is a conversation with a co-worker, a friend, or a child, or doing a task, decide to ‘show up fully’ and pour all of yourself into it.  Listen like you’ve never listened before.  Decide to care like you’ve never cared before.”

3.  Celebrate

Throughout her book, Emmerich explains how important it is to celebrate successes, and she gives examples of team holidays and outings.  Putting aside the fact that you might not want to go on holiday with your team, with the economy in the doldrums it’s hard for companies to be seen spending money on ‘celebration’ activities.  Once I’d read Thank God it’s Monday!, I asked Emmerich what recommended in the way of celebration that doesn’t cost much.

“Well, celebration doesn’t need to cost money,” she said.  “It’s as simple as high fiving each other every time you win a new client, high fiving when you finish a project, high fiving any good result you get.  All those things are free.  In addition to that having some loud music playing as you walk into your weekly meeting in celebration of all that you’ve accomplished is a lovely way to get people feeling joyful and again doesn’t cost a dime other than the music that you probably have on hand anyway.”

4.  Communicate and challenge

Sometimes it’s not you who has a problem with Mondays, and other people’s miserable attitudes can really dampen the morale at work.  Everyone has a choice about how they act at work, and Emmerich believes that what it really boils down is ‘shape up or ship out.’

However, it’s possible that your colleagues don’t know that their whining is getting everyone else down.  You don’t have to be the boss to do something about it.  Emmerich suggests confronting people in a very positive way.

She recommends saying something like:  “I’m so excited abut where our team is going.  I could be wrong, but my sense is that you don’t share that excitement.  And that’s okay.  Because maybe this isn’t your thing.  But if this isn’t your thing, you need to go find your thing!”  You might have to adapt the words to fit your culture – it all sounds too ‘cheerleading’ for my workplace.  However, the bottom line is to challenge behaviour that drains the positive from the environment, in a way that encourages people to change.

Emmerich reckons that conversations like this have a 90% success rate in turning round “bad apples”.  She says, “Remember, the point is to guide them to make a decision of greatness, not to push them.  Most people with an attitude just want to know that someone wants them to make a good choice.”

5.  Clean up your messes

You’ll feel better about going to the office on a Monday if you know that you’re not going to have to hide behind your filing cabinet every time a certain person walks past.

“People make mistakes,” Emmerich says.  “We always will.  And others will always forgive us for everything if we simply come clean and show we know we were out of integrity and that we care enough to fix the situation.”

So, ‘fess up.  Relationships are built on trust, and if you blow it, you have to apologise to get back on the right track.  It’s actually not that hard to do, and it’s worth it to clear the air – and also to know that your integrity isn’t as badly compromised as maybe you thought.  Talk to the people you let down when you missed a deadline or handed in a shoddy report, and tell them what you will do to put it right.

Your Mondays will be better for it!

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