Ah, Monday morning. Remember the song the Mamas and the Papas used to sing? Let’s reminisce some of the lyrics:
Monday, Monday. Can’t trust that day.
Monday, Monday, it just turns out that way.
Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
You can find me crying all the time.
Sounds like a bleak beginning for our work week. So, let’s welcome Monday morning with a few attitude and schedule adjustments.
1. Begin preparing for Monday on Sunday night
My senior year at Biola University, I fulfilled a requirement for a Christian education class called “Education Administration,” which outlined the psychology and techniques for executing successful programs in the church. A key concept in producing life-giving events, small groups, and opportunity for believers to grow in their faith is the concept of planning ahead. I’m still driven by the phrase “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So even if you take just five minutes to plan ahead, Sunday night make a list of a few essentials you must complete on Monday.
For our family of four with our kids in elementary school, we posted a large 5″ x 8″’ bulletin board in the “Grand Central” meeting place: our kitchen. This common daily calendar was a place everyone’s schedule could be seen, so each could know where and when the other family members were going to be at different times and days of the week. Some of the items on your list might overlap and be the same things every week. Pinterest has many printable options for this and even some on a smaller scale. Or if it works for you, a desktop calendar or computer laptop or tablet can be very functional. The point of using a calendar is to bring intention to your time, so you can harness more of it for your use. If you have ever said, “I just didn’t have enough time,” (as all of us have), you can now say, “I am using the time I have more effectively.”
“Be very careful then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” —Ephesians 5:15–16
2. Start Monday morning asking God for help
“I’ve got so much to do; I don’t have time for devotions.” Yes, I, too have used this excuse. When I didn’t make time for God, I ran out of time, resources, and energy to complete the tasks that lay ahead of me. And I wasn’t a very nice person to be around, either. However, when I made spending time with God my daily habit, He helped me manage my time and my schedule. It was like making a huge bank deposit; as I spent the early minutes of my day with Him, He actually helped me do everything He asked me to do in the time He gave me. In the end, I actually accomplished more than I thought I would or could.
David wrote in Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God, early will I seek you, my soul thirsts for you.” Moses noticed God’s handiwork in Exodus 3:4–5 through the burning bush: “I must turn aside, to this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” Abraham walked with God alone under the canopy of night; God used the twinkling stars as an object lesson to show him the numbers of his descendants. “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky and will give them all these lands.” Genesis 26:4
“It is better to be sleep-deprived, than God deprived,” says Jill Briscoe
Jesus was busy meeting needs—teaching the crowds, leading the disciples, healing the sick, comforting the broken—yet He made time for His Heavenly Father. Mark 1:35 says, “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, He went out and departed to a lonely place and was praying there.” It was our Lord’s custom, His habit, to meet with His Father before He did anything else. “And He came out and proceeded as was His custom, to the Mount of Olives,” says Luke 22:39. If Jesus made meeting with God His first priority, shouldn’t we do the same?
3. Write up an hourly mock-up schedule for Monday
A daily appointment book, iPhone calendar, or even piece of binder paper helps you actually see the day and more effectively plan the time you have to do the tasks ahead. To put activities into slots, it takes about ten minutes every day, but as you get into the habit of doing it, often your daily calendar is done by the time your day begins. This is referred to as a time-log, which can provide you with a motivation to finish a task on time or at least provide a little competition for you and your family as you are completing tasks. When you can “see the day” on a daily calendar, you also “seize the day” instead of letting the day grab ahold of you.
“I wish I could stand on a busy street corner and beg people to give their wasted hours.” (unknown)
Most people waste up to two hours of time every day; although few people realize it. That’s why it’s a beneficial habit to write up your own personal hourly tentative mock up schedule. It’s such a great feeling of satisfaction—the reward you get when you are able to complete a tasksuccessfully or make it to an appointment on time. The rush of accomplishment in checking off the tasks that have been completed actually motivates us to want to achieve more to gain the same results.
“I delight to see how orderly you are.” —Colossians 2:3
4. Rewards give positive reinforcement for success
Rewards help motivate successful follow-through, especially when we stick with a schedule. What rewards will motivate you and your family? M&M’s, french fries, a trip to Disneyland? Although these might be successful motivators, these are definitely not healthy for your body or realistic for your family budget. So, ask your family what rewards will motivate them and figure out what works well for your group. For our family, a Wendy’s frosty for each of us was the reward at the end of a successful week. The kids kept track of points they’d accumulate every day for assignments completed, chores finished, and positive behavior. The weekly “Frosty Fiesta” benefited our little foursome in many ways: We looked forward to it, we planned for it, and we could afford it. Plus it provided an actual family outing that all of us liked. Score!
Now, the work motivation rewards I grant myself are not as indulgent as a Wendy’s frosty. After completing a task, I might allow myself a limited amount of time on one of my favorite sites: Pinterest. (It was two years ago this Thanksgiving I planned my wedding to second husband Jim by using Pinterest.) I love to read books. And on any given day, I’ve also got lots of books going and must limit myself to only one new book a week. (So many books, so little time.) Another reward after successfully completing a sizable writing project or an event is clothes shopping. (Hmm, there’s a new trendy clothing store at the mall.) Now that’s a reward worth waiting for.
Okay, how do you feel about Monday? Is it still . . . Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day?
Or do you agree: Instead of mistrusting your Monday, you can begin this first Monday in the month of November by pressing into it? That’s right, just lean into the pressure. No need to feel anxious about trying to get more accomplished. Instead choose to be thankful for the time we have and the work we have to do, and thank God for the people He asks us to share it with.
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 3:13–14
Can I pray for you?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your plan for us. Help us to use the time you have given us to accomplish your purpose. Help us love well and serve well those who need you. In Jesus’ name, amen.