Tuesday 25 October 2016

What Katie Did Next: In which I reclaim Mondays my own way. . .

Katie Byrne
Katie Byrne

It's the day that heart attacks, sudden death, strokes and break-ups are most likely to happen. It's the day shoppers trample all over each other for bargains and the day we gorge ourselves on leftover Easter eggs. Mondays. I hate them.

Granted, I'm hardly revealing a personality quirk here, like admitting to a pathological dislike of Fridays or fried chicken or frozen yoghurt. I realise that a dislike of Mondays is common among the general populace. It's just that I'm beginning to wonder why, after experiencing 1,612 manic Mondays, that I haven't done something about it.

Others have. I've noticed a trend towards reclaiming Mondays in the US - Mindful Mondays and Make it Happen Mondays to name a few.

On paper, these initiatives are all about transforming Monday anxiety into productivity. In reality, they normalise the cult of conspicuous workaholism. One of these high-achieving Monday meet-ups is for "people who want to kick some online marketing ass at the beginning of the week". I just want to get out of bed, thanks.

I imagine the people behind them are the same types that go to the gym before work and "whizz up" a smoothie for breakfast. I imagine they think the other emerging trend of 7am networking breakfasts is a fantastic idea. I hate them, almost as much as I hate Mondays.

They've got it all wrong. We shouldn't be focusing on Making It Happen on Mondays. We should be devising ways to pretend it's not happening. We need to make these 24 hours of meh a little more manageable.

It starts the day beforehand. Most of us have Dimanchophobia (fear of Sunday). This is partly a throwback to having not done our homework, and partly because Sunday is not a real day at all. Most sane-minded people know that something happens to the time-space continuum and it feels more like a holographic illusion powered by the black hole of Match of the Day.

This causes another phenomenon known as Sunday-somnia. We procrastinate all the way to bedtime before tossing and turning through the night. Fever dreams of overflowing inboxes are common and studies say we only get six-and-a-half hours' sleep.

Come Monday morning we are exhausted, anxious and already counting down the hours until Friday. Oh, and just in case you're considering it, employees are more likely to call in sick on a Monday too.


The suffocating inertia of the commute doesn't make it any easier. The Luas is stuffed with slack-jawed, dead-eyed zombies scrolling aimlessly through their phones and the people waiting at the 46a bus stop look like something from a Holocaust photo archive.

It's even worse again for those who have partaken in an alcoholic beverage or two the night before. Am I talking too loud? Am I talking too low... everyone knows.

In his book Stumbling on Happiness, psychologist Daniel Gilbert says, "We overestimate how happy we will be on our birthdays, we underestimate how happy we will be on Monday mornings, and we make these mundane but erroneous predictions again and again, despite their regular disconfirmation".

These studies lead me to one conclusion: Mondays ought to start later. 11am should do it (unfortunately I have a meeting with my pillow beforehand). This initiative would no doubt raise energy, boost morale and increase productivity.

At the very least, people should have the courtesy not to organise appointments for Monday morning. I once worked for a company that held an 'underperformers' review meeting' for salespeople at 9am on Mondays. The medieval cruelty of it still astonishes me. It reminds me of the time I received an appointment letter for a routine smear test. I honestly thought I was looking at a typo when I saw the words 'Monday, 8:45am'.


I'm immediately suspicious of anyone who says the words "first thing Monday". It always sounds like a vague threat and a breach of common decency. I know you've already done half your Christmas shopping and haven't yet spent your SSIA, but really, must you inflict your meticulousness on the masses?

Nobody does a tap after 4:30pm on a Friday and everyone is too scared to pick up the phone before 11am on a Monday. Did you not get the memo?

And yet they persist, which means I'm going to have to incorporate a few mechanisms to make Monday easier on myself. No longer will I consider it a clean sheet or a fresh start. Instead, I'll make my Monday to-do list on a Friday evening and I'll make sure I have something to look forward to on a Monday night. Diet on Monday? Tuesday will do.

I'm also going to get out of bed earlier on Sundays. According to sleep scientists, this will ease the Monday morning grogginess as weekend lie-ins send our circadian cycles into chaos. These modifications should put me in good stead, but I won't stop dreaming about a company culture that celebrates the 11am Monday start. The Monday lie-in. The Monday brunch. The Monday papers. Not in a month of Sundays?

Well, I can try.

''First thing Monday' sounds like a vague threat'

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