Combatting the Sunday Scaries
Issue 73: Prepping for the hardest Monday of the year
Happy Sunday. If you are currently working, there’s a chance you’re already thinking about Monday as this newsletter hits your inbox. Oh no, why am I thinking about work already? The anxiety kicks in and you can’t enjoy the rest of your weekend. This is commonly known as the Sunday scaries, and it’s real—a form of anticipatory anxiety in relation to the week ahead.
According to a survey conducted by job site Monster, up to 76% of Americans self-reported having “really bad” Sunday night anxiety, compared to just 47% of people around the world. It's not surprising that Americans are overworked, overstressed, and not necessarily more efficient than the rest of the world.
These anxieties differ for each person and are not only work-related. You might be getting anxious about other things you need to tend to during the week—personal errands, chores, etc. There are many different things that negatively impact your headspace. This negative energy detracts from you doing great creative work.
My writing is never about advice and sharing thoughts and ideas that might give you something to explore. Let’s take a look at how we can combat the Sunday scaries and conquer Big Monday.
Understand your needs and what triggers you
Get to the root cause of what triggers your anxiety. Take notes of when it happens. I’m a huge fan of journaling everything. Is it an important meeting you need to prep for? Administrative work that you have to knock out? Maybe you have an appointment coming up that’s top of mind. It might be that phone call you to keep putting off to cancel a booking. It’s different for each person. Take a moment and list all the elements that are occupying your headspace.
For me, it's the onslaught of my inbox and time to do administrative work. The majority of my workday is meetings and there is never enough time to tend to everything. I learned my needs are blocks of focus time to get it all done at once instead of trying to find small blocks of minutes to achieve it.
Be cleansed of the workweek before entering the weekend
There is an adage in war and sports that says, "the best defense is a good offense." What if we went on the offensive on the Sunday scaries before it can consume us? Nip the Sunday scaries in the bud1 on Friday. My Friday ritual is to do a cool down to prep for the week before the Daniel Craig Weekend meme hits. I'll change the scenery to focus on, such as a walk, moving to another room in the house, or going to a cafe outdoors. The purpose is to put all the weekly reflections and subsequent week planning down on paper. This might be a checklist of what you need to do or start planning the week out. We should be entering the weekend like Roman Soldiers marching back through the Arch of Triumph; cleansing ourselves before re-entering the haven that is the weekend—leaving the baggage on the battlefield of the workweek.
In my note-taking app of choice, I rough out what I anticipate needs to get done for the week—capturing everything I'm thinking about for each day of the week. Doing this provides the benefit of clearing my mind so I have an end point to the weekend and allows me to start the next week with thoughts shaped up instead of a blank canvas.
Establish a weekend ritual
It helps to have a routine, even if it differs from the weekday. I don't sleep in on weekends. I'm usually waking up naturally or my cat wakes me up at the crack of dawn to get fed. Regardless of who or what wakes you up, consider a routine that isn't far off from the other five days. If you stay out until 4am and wake up at noon on weekends, I imagine that's hard to get back to work. However, if your sleep schedule is consistent, it might help with the adjustment.
Do the shitty things first
When I was a kid, I'd eat vegetables and any food I disliked first. When eating Skittles, I'd consume all the inferior colors before leaving the purple ones in the end to enjoy. Getting the shitty things done allows you to be more carefree on your weekend. Get the chores done first—anything you’re not looking forward to. Ending the weekend on what gives you the energy to enter Monday.
A bit of weekend work is okay
There is a lot of debate about this on Twitter. Of course, like everything on Twitter, people are maximalists about their opinions. I'm personally not against working on the weekend if it helps you. The key part is you having control of it. However, if I have a choice to have a spare hour on the weekend to have focus time, I'd take that over trying to wake up early during the week to make up for it. I watched Emily in Paris: Season 2 in one sitting with my girlfriend. I have an hour to spare on the weekend. If chipping away at a few tasks clears your mind, go for it. If you need hard boundaries, set those too.
Make Sunday a first-class day of the weekend
Finally, enjoy the entire weekend. A valuable lesson I learned from my girlfriend is to maximize the joy of the weekend. She would list out all the time I have to enjoy: Sunday early morning, morning, mid-day, early afternoon, afternoon, early evening, evening, late evening, and night. Instead of surrendering the white flag to Monday, I now spend all Sunday for activities I enjoy to decompress and get a good night's sleep.
Our Sunday routine cooking a nice dinner or going somewhere, going for a walk to get exercise, and watching a movie. I enjoy my weekend to the point where I'm exhausted and ready for bed. Before heading to sleep, I'll check my notes from Friday to quickly scan what I need to be ready for. I sleep much easier these days knowing that I've shaped up a bit of the work.
I hope this resonates. If you have remedies that help you prep for the week, let me know. Here's to a great start to the new year!
P.S. One of my goals is to write more on my personal website and this newsletter instead of on social media. I wrote about my experiences as an operator angel investor. This newsletter isn’t focused on tech and investing directly so if you’re keen on that subscribe to the RSS feed: https://www.davidhoang.com/blog/rss.xml
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A story about an artist
I used to think this idiom was “nip it in the butt” which is a very different thing.