The last time I checked, Sunday had the same number of hours as Saturday. And yet we often act as if the weekend is over once we wake up Sunday morning. Why? Well, that question was rhetorical because I myself have wasted many a good Sunday just worrying about Monday. It is time for us to stop wasting our Sundays worrying about Monday. Heck, it is time to stop worrying about Mondays. This is the third piece in a seven-part series that is aimed at helping teachers get the most of each day. If you have not read What Teachers Should Be Thinking About On Saturday, I suggest you take a few minutes to do so now. If you haven’t and don’t have time that’s okay, I think you will still find today’s piece instrumental in helping you have an awesome Sunday.
Visualize Your Ideal Monday Morning
Oftentimes we are so worried about Monday morning rolling around that we forget to fully capture Sunday‘s potential. We allow negative images of Monday morning to wreak havoc on our entire Sunday.
From now on, do this:
Think about what you want your Monday morning to look like, feel like, sound like? I imagine, if you’re anything like me, you have a clear picture in your head of what could go wrong on Monday or what worries you about Monday. Hopefully, some of the suggestions I have given in the previous pieces in this series have helped to lessen, if not eliminate, your worries about Monday.
But right now, find a quiet place and visualize your ideal Monday morning. Start from when you first open your eyes and end with the first words you speak to your first class. Most likely there are several hours in between those two times.
And I am not so naive as to think that everything you want to happen, will happen. But I do believe that visualization is a powerful tool. It can help prepare and set yourself up for success. For example:
- If you visualize yourself waking up refreshed => go to bed early
- If you visualize yourself having a healthy breakfast => get everything out the night before
- If you visualize yourself exercising => have your workout clothes ready and laid out by your bed
- If you visualize your first period going well => think about how you are going to greet each student
Most likely, you’ve heard about how athletes from Serena Williams to Tom Brady practice visualization to help them reach high levels of performance. Yeah, but Jon they’re world class athletes, I’m just a teacher. First, don’t ever say you’re just a teacher and second, visualization works in all fields at all levels.
Positive visualization not only helps you see yourself in a more positive light, it helps you perform better. And you don’t need to be in the U.S. Open Finals or the Super Bowl to take advantage of the benefits.
In her article, Visualization: Dominate Your Career Like Serena Williams, social researcher and therapist, Dr. Kesha Moore, says that
Visualization strengthens existing neurological pathways as well as creates new ones. Through visualization we “rewire” our physical bodies. In 2007, the North American Journal of Psychology published a study reporting that athletes accomplished almost comparable gains in strength through mental exercises (visualizations) as those who actually did the exercises on weight machines. If visualization is this powerful alone, imagine how it can improve your performance when combined with physical practice.
Dr. Moore goes on to provide suggestions to help with positive visualization.
- Using all five senses, repeatedly imagine yourself performing the task with the desired result.
- Imagine yourself as the “hero” in the story, not the outside observer.
- Practice visualizing often.
You can do this!
One thing is certain though. Actually, two things. First, if you don’t prepare a little bit on Sunday then your Monday morning will not be as you visualized. Great Monday mornings don’t just happen by accident. They take a little preparation. Not much, but a few minutes here and there are all you need to have the Monday morning you had envisioned. Second, remember that stuff happens and everything will not always go according to plan. But visualization can help you begin to stack the odds in your favor.
Set Aside Time For Three Deep Work Blocks (just 20 minutes each)
I know, I know. At first, this sounds like a lot. But remember, if you read What Teachers Should Be Thinking About On Saturday and your action steps are set up, these blocks are all ready to go. You know what you have to do and now it’s just a matter of taking that next step to move the project forward. Furthermore, depending on what you have to accomplish, you may be able to accomplish everything in two deep work blocks.
Once again (I talked about this in the previous post), I can’t stress enough how important it is that these short, 20-minute blocks be treated as sacred. To the best of your ability, make sure that each one is uninterrupted, focused and continuous. Remember, every time you have to switch tasks, it takes 10-20 minutes to regain your focus. Heck, that’s your entire block!
Now I realize that you have families, obligations, dogs, etc. And when you let others know that you do not want to be disturbed during the next 20 minutes, they may freak out a bit. But Daddy what if…? But Honey what if…? But, but, but..
Listen, the key to these blocks being successful is the fact that they are uninterrupted and focused. The selling point for you, when others balk at the fact that you can’t be interrupted, is that you’re only talking about 40-60 minutes. Tops! In the past, you tried to do your work for school in front of the television, while watching football or Game of Thrones, and your attention was so divided that it often took you three hours to complete one hour‘s worth of work.
Now that you are a full-fledged member of the Deep Work Club (there’s not really a club, I kinda just made that up), you will be available and able to play, clean, run errands, do whatever for the majority of the day. And I am betting that the quality of what you accomplish during those 40-60 minutes will be much better than what you would have gotten done in front of the television or at the kitchen table while everyone is watching Stranger Things. Just a hunch, but I think I am right on this one.
Decide on One Tiny Little Habit to Start on Monday
So often in life we look at others that are able to do things that we can’t or have things that we don’t and think that there is no way that could ever be us. Well, as long as we think that way, we are right. But I know a secret that can help transform your life. It takes little time and very little effort. And at the end of a year, you will look back and be amazed at what you were able to accomplish with just this little Sunday night ritual.
This isn’t about getting 1% better each day (Atomic Habits) and this isn’t about building up to something big. I am talking about the accumulation of 52 small habits by the end of the year. By themselves, these habits are small and barely noticeable, if they are noticeable at all.
But, here’s the thing.
You will notice them.
And you will feel better about yourself as a result of these 52 tiny little habits.
Furthermore, let’s be real. if you take on 52 new habits this year, even though they are small, the odds are that you are not going to continue with all of them. Maybe half of them stick. That’s okay. Think about it. If someone told you that this time next year you will have begun and maintained 26 new habits, you would probably think they were crazy. I know I would.
The key is that the habits must be small and they must me simple. For example, this week I am going to try to stop biting my fingernails. Not a big life change and not a habit that requires much work. I have clipped my nails so that they are short and I have filed the jagged edges. Now it is just up to me to try to not bite them. Of course, I am going to forget and slip up. But maybe after a week I will be closer. Then maybe a month later I will have stopped biting them altogether.
What are some other examples of small habits that you could start on Monday?
- Do not look at your cell phone for the first 10 minutes upon waking up
- Drink a glass of water before every meal
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible
- Read 5 pages a night of the book you’ve been meaning to finish
- Walk around the block without your phone and just notice what you see, hear and smell
As you can see, these aren’t habits that are going to immediately change your life? Or are they? I believe they have the potential to do just that. First, you are beginning the habit of making little promises to yourself. Yes, some you will break. But many you will keep. That will feel good. Next, each week you will be thinking of small little tweaks that will make the quality of your life better. Finally, never forget that it is the accumulation of small steps that lead to great strides. I know that is such a cliche´ but it’s true. So start thinking about what small habit you are going to start next Monday.
Sunday Can Be Fun-Day Again
It’s time for you to start enjoying your Sundays again. I mean really enjoying them without the thought of returning to work on Monday looming over you like a bad smell. Yes, you have to go back to work tomorrow. And yes, weekends are awesome. And yes, it is important that you are ready and prepared for work.
And you will be if you follow the suggestions I have laid out in my last two posts. I think with minimal work, done the right way, you will be more energized than ever once Monday rolls around.
Now go out and enjoy what’s left of your weekend.
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Moore, Kesha. Visualization: Dominate Your Career Like Serena Williams, retrieved on 9/9/2019.
Newport, Cal. Deep Work.