What you can do this weekend to have a better Monday

A classic weekend spent lounging around the house and meeting with family can be the gift we all deserve after a long week. But it always feels like the weekend is over way too soon, and we spend the next week scrambling to catch up on the things we stepped away from.

That creates its own anxiety, and we like to avoid unnecessary anxiety around here. Here are a few things you can do to get ahead before Monday comes around.

Write down your weekly goals and limit them to only six things

James Clear writes about the Ivy Lee method— reportedly used by Charles M. Schwab after meeting with the productivity consultant in the early 1900s— which can also be applied to planning on the weekend.

Clear includes a step-by-step numbered list, starting with “at the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.” The second is, “prioritize those six items in order of their true importance,” and the third is “when you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.”

The fourth step involves doing the same thing for the rest of the list, and when you make tomorrow’s list of six items at the end of the work day, include the ones you didn’t complete that day. The fifth and final step is to use this method “every working day.”

Give ‘batching’ a try

When it comes to your to-do list, you could also try planning to do things that are alike within the same time period.

Paul Jarvis writes about “batching” in an article for The Muse called “4 Ways to Focus When Your Mind’s Not in the Mood.”

“‘Batching’ builds off the idea of only working on one kind of task at a time. Rather that jumping from one project to another, you do all related tasks in a set amount of time. By ‘batching’ the work you have to accomplish, you don’t have to constantly shift gears. So, grouping all the writing I have to do into a morning means I can write five to six articles in one fell swoop. Perfect. Then I’ll typically spend the afternoon programming websites for clients, moving my brain into that mode for hours at a time,” Jarvis writes.

Similarly, some organizational plans recommend that you list your tasks by where you will be taking care of them: a list of home tasks, computer tasks, office tasks, and so on. Working that way lets your brain function more smoothly since things are categorized together.

Don’t obsess over what hasn’t worked out for you

It’s natural to spend Sundays thinking not only about the week ahead, but also what we screwed up the week before and how to fix it. One thing to note: the more we think about something, the more we attract the emotions around it into our minds and our lives. So if you’re dwelling on negative emotions, you’ll feel even more negative emotions.

Martha Beck writes about “the law of attracting Trojan horses” in an article. She advises anyone who is worried about a situation to rewrite the “story” of what is happening. We often prepare ourselves for the worst possible outcomes by linking together different incidents into one big, negative story that we use to torture ourselves.

Beck’s advice: just stop telling yourself that story.

“I’ve seen that what we’re most afraid to lose is never a thing, person, or situation, but our story about how that thing will make us happy, conform to our ego’s desires, and remain forever unchanging. This is true even when the thing is our own body. I’ve seen that when we relinquish our stories—when the truth of our soul kills the narrative we’re spinning out to impress ourselves and others—we reach acceptance and suffering ends.” Beck writes.

Pick out a couple of work outfits to make your life easier

Sort through your closet to see what outfits you think you want to wear during the week.

Also, take out Monday’s clothes ahead of time (along with an accessories you plan to wear), and iron or steam them if necessary so you don’t have to do that before running out the door that morning.

Free up your living space

Clear your head by spending a little time organizing your living space so you’re not as mentally bogged down when you get home after work on next week.

Give yourself the time to do things you feel too busy to do during the week, like clearing off your desk and weeding through your file cabinet, and get rid of baggage by letting go of old things you don’t need anymore.

Prepare meals ahead of time

This will help you save time during the week and use it to attend to other things you have going on outside of work.

Real Simple provides a PDF guide called “Sunday Prep School” with recipes you can make and more.

“Set aside a couple of hours on Sunday to follow the steps on these pages: Wash and chop vegetables; cook some versatile ingredients, plus a few fully ready-to go dishes; and make some cold items that you can use multiple ways—on a salad, in a sandwich, or as a game-changing topping…” the document says.

Getting ahead on the weekend can help you start the following week feeling lighter and more focused.