How to Tame the “Sunday Scaries”

The “Sunday Scaries” has cemented its presence on social media, representing the existential dread of the impending work week.  While this dread has been around since we’ve had a five day work week, it has propelled itself into prominence in the last few years.

I waded through Urban Dictionary to understand it better.  The leading definition starts as, “The feeling you have after a long week of work followed by a Saturday of binge drinking, when Sunday hits you question your existence.  Typically characterized by laying in bed all day and both regretting your past decisions and questioning your non-existent future”.  Wow, a lot darker than what I remembered when I first envisioned writing this article, but ah well. My process should help out at least a portion of that dread.  Not the binge-drinking anxiety, but certainly any concerns about your job in the next week.

Friday Afternoon

My routine starts on Friday afternoon.  I know.  Everyone wants to shut down and get the hell out of dodge and start the above referenced binge drinking that will make you leave your debit card in the 3rd bar on your weekend route.  However, if you take 15 minutes before closing up for the day, I promise it can make all the difference.

For 15 minutes I review the next week and I map out the following “3 and 3”:

  • My top 3 priorities for the next week
  • My first 3 hours of work on Monday

For my top 3 priorities I think about what deadlines or big meetings I have coming up, along with their impacts. These could be specific artifacts I need to develop, or even a core responsibility in my job function (maintaining a request queue, etc). I list out whatever I decide requires my focus in the next week to ensure I’m staying on top of my workload. This could even be a deliverable that isn’t due that week, but I know it’s going to require a considerable amount of time to get done.

Here’s what an example of my top 3 priorities for the next week look like:

After drafting up my priorities I start to get a sense what I want to work on and frame up how my Monday morning will look. I’m realistic in the first 30 minutes, knowing that there could be some items that come up that I need to flag and address. I get a sense for any meetings I may need to prep for on Monday, as well as contemplating when I can fit in some work on some of my top priorities outlined above.

A sample of my mapping out my first 3 hours for this coming Monday:

Alright, Friday afternoon prep is done, go forth to the weekend!

Sunday Evening

Alright, Sunday rolls around, your nerves are slightly eased from your Friday planning but there is more to be done to put you at ease.  Yep, there you are, laying in your bed subsisting on Cheetos or that DoorDash delivery you army crawled to get from your front door earlier in the day.  This next part requires some form of effort. You can do it. You may even be able to do it from your bed, depending on what your Monday looks like.

Think about your Monday that you’ve mapped out already and the logistics around the day.  Are you commuting?  Are you working from home?  Visualize what your morning routine will look like surrounding those first three hours and build a quick game plan for yourself.  Are you in the office and need to bring a lunch?  Venture to r/MealPrepSunday and get some inspo and throw something together this evening.  That action could even quell some of that anxiety, plus future you will be forever grateful.  Or you short cut it and accept that you’ll be ordering out for your Monday lunch, you’ll get them next time…sure…

This visualizing your Monday morning step can be as simple or complicated as you need, but I do take a few minutes to pull a plan together to really visualize my actions Monday morning to be successful.

In my scenario I’m working from home on Monday, but I have a lot of meetings throughout the day and may not get too much time outside.

Sunday night, my only activity is to set my alarm for 7am. This is a realistic time that I won’t snooze but will still allow me time to transition into the work day and take some time on the supporting tasks I map out below:

The above exercises utilize the power of planning and visualization. The future doesn’t have to be an unknown abyss, an unknown that allows my mind to wander through various existential crises. I’ve established what my priorities are for the week, I’ve mapped out my first few hours on Monday, and I’ve even reviewed those first few hours and planned what I’m going to do to support myself in the morning.

The “Sunday Scaries” don’t have to be a part of your weekly routine. They can be reduced considerably through simple planning, by establishing a game plan of what your future will look like. Start small, start with just one of the above elements, anything will make a powerful difference not just on your Sunday evening, but throughout the week.


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