One of my good friends always plays the best 80's station when we come to visit. Last night while hanging out I heard the familiar opening bars of that classic Bangles hit, Manic Monday. With it stuck in my head today, the irony was not lost that when I first heard this song I really had no idea just how manic a Monday morning could be. At the time I'm sure I thought it sheer torture to have to get up and go to school; years later I long for the luxury of having a closest of clothes that someone else bought and laundered for me, a tasty, balanced lunch handed to me, and a personal life coach / manager to make sure all the items on my to-do list were crossed off , thus preventing embarrassment in front of management, er, the teacher. Thank you, Mom.
Our transition from gnarly students who think we have it rough to first-time workers learning the ropes of life, to our current occupations as all-grown-ups, Monday is an omnipresent factor in the daily grind. I like to take the "It's a brand new week!" approach as opposed to "I don't like Mondays;" after all, if Monday morning never comes, neither can Friday afternoon. But I will admit, a bad start on Monday can set you back, if not for the week than at least for the day.
I'm a gal who needs to be organized about my weekly prep. I can feel the ominous rising of a bad week ahead if on Sunday night my week's clothes aren't laundered, my lunch isn't prepped, and my butt isn't in bed by 11:30 at the latest. For me, a manic Monday begins at 12:01 AM. And so, I make sure I have my ducks in a row on Sunday night. No Sunday flu for me; I'm blessed with a job I love and so as long as I'm tucked in with my book, blogs or magazine and a cup of tea at a decent hour, it's all good for the week. And since I am an organized sort, I rarely head to bed without being properly prepared.
Of course, there's more to the week than Sunday night. With two whole days, it's easy to start the week on top of your game, but somewhere around Wednesday things go off the rails. Along the way I've discovered a few tricks to make my work week prep a bit more streamlined. I may not use all of these every night / day (respectively), but even utilizing a few can make all the difference. Have you considered...
- Smart snacks - I do my very best to be green, but I have to balance that with not wasting food and making sure we eat healthy. In another post I'm going to address packaging waste and how to fight it, but for the sake of this post I'm just going to stick to topic. With two adults working full time on opposite shifts, sometimes single serve just makes sense. Yogurt and cheese are two products that I've started purchasing in single serve form. The simple truth is that we're both more likely to grab these healthy snacks if it's easy and convenient. Fruit, juice, and granola bars are other examples of good-for-you grab and go snacks.
- Easy meals - I love a big, delicious sandwich, but in truth, how many sandwiches make it to lunch time looking and tasting nearly as good as they did when first assembled? Enter the wrap. There's lots of awesome combos that can be made in advance and still taste fresh, and in my experience wraps don't seem to get as soggy as bread. For wraps and more, I look forward to Real Simple's bag lunch idea every month for fresh lunch options; in fact I'm planning to start posting about out these, and other lunch recipes in the near future. I also find Everyday With Rachel Ray a good source of lunch ideas, especially when they point to options for using dinner time leftovers for the next day's lunch. I also often lean on a big pot of soup, chili, or goulash to get us through a week of meals. And although nothing is as good as fresh and homemade, having a few pre-made frozen options tucked into the freezer is never a bad idea. Finally, when you find yourself down to the end of a pot of soup or stew (or you get tired of it before it runs out) don't throw it away! Invest in a few freezer and microwave friendly bowl sized containers and freeze your leftovers - you've just made you own single serve frozen meals!
- Type A Appliances - You know that friend who gets everything done well, quickly, and in style? Make your appliances be that for you. On Friday you heard all about my new morning saver, the Tassimo single serve coffee maker. If single serve isn't your thing, consider a coffee maker with a timer; you can set it for 15 minutes before you wake up, saving you having to fumble around with filters and grounds first thing in the morning, not to mention the aroma alone will get you out of bed! Speaking of getting out of bed, if that's an issue, put your alarm clock across the room from your bed so that you actually have to get up to turn it off; I find I'm less likely to hit "snooze" when I do this. Dish washers also have timers, and a friend was telling me about her new Roomba vacuum that can be set to go whenever you want. After all, what would be better after a Manic Monday than clean dishes and floors? Bread machines and slow-cookers can make mealtimes much easier, so much so that you may be tempted to toss your takeout menus. And make your downtime work for you; I once pointed out to a friend that while I was sipping wine on the patio on Saturday night I was also washing dishes, doing laundry, cooking a roast and baking bread!
- Can-do Clothes - When wardrobe planning, keep care instructions in mind. Yes, we all want quality, but a few career wear items that can go in the washer and dryer and don't require ironing can be a life-saver. Anyone who's realized they have an entire work wardrobe of hand wash only clothes knows what I mean. Many new washing machines have a hand-wash feature, something I'm loving right now for my dress pants and delicate tops.
- PM Beauty Prep - As much as I love my morning shower, sometimes it's worth it to get it out of the way the night before. The challenge I faced with this was my hair, which definitely looks better when it's freshly blow-dried. A little research revealed night before coif ideas that transition well for a sleep loving modern career gal. I'm loving sleep-friendly foam rollers, for example. With very little effort in the morning I have bouncy waves that last all day. Of course, there's always the ponytail, but a sad old elastic holding back limp, lifeless hair doesn't spell success. Look for pony tail clips with teeth that separate your hair for added bounce. Even a bar clip will make your pony look more professional. A touch of make up and you'll look like you put in way more effort than you did! All without sacrificing...
- Sweet, sweet sleep - Elusive, isn't it? Yet it's so essential. Identify how much you need (everyone is different) and do everything in your power to achieve it. Plan, plan, plan so that you can work at gearing down to a relaxed state before bed-time. I totally understand that life, children, pets, shift work, and not enough hours in a day make this goal difficult to achieve, but if there is one area you can focus on to improve that will make a huge difference in your health and work performance, this is it.
None of this is rocket science, of course, but sometime we get into work-a-day ruts and reading how someone else organizes their time can give us a new idea that can save precious morning minutes. To that end, what do YOU do to avoid the dreaded Manic Monday?
And so, darling readers, it's time to take my own advice and hop to my Sunday night prep. After all, 12:01 AM and a Manic Monday are only 6 hours away! Nighty night!