Photo by Bridget Braun.
I don’t know about you, but recapturing my creative flow on Monday mornings can represent a daunting task. One of the challenges of going at it alone as a self-employed creative is keeping the momentum going. In the typical 9-5 world it’s not uncommon to walk through the motions—a luxury of the traditional course—but for those audacious enough to chart your own path, Mondays can represent a total mindfuck.
As if Monday mornings aren’t hard enough, add a holiday weekend and in my case two days of unplugged wilderness camping in my beloved Wyoming, chasing trout, watching beavers and marveling at bird life with my wife, and it’s safe to say that it’s a herculean task to re-enter the main current of the river, restoring the creative flow. Life and rivers share many parallels. The work of creatives (writers, artists, entrepreneurs, etc.) is much like a major river expedition.
In order to pull off any big river expedition, we can’t just wing it, we need a game plan. We can’t fill our raft, launch our boat and ride the energy of the river’s main channel 24 hours a day. We need to re-hydrate, eat, sleep and create space to practice delicate self-care. Sometimes this means finding an eddy where we can take a short break, other times it means pulling off the river for a few days to rest our tired body and weary mind. While we have to remain adaptable on any major adventure, it’s important to plan for the portages where we know there will be dangerous obstructions blocking our forward progress.
Without planning, Monday mornings can represent a boat shredding diversion dam capable of sabotaging an entire week’s worth of productivity and purpose.
As creatives we are captain of our own ship, head coach and chief planner. When you know you’re facing a challenging foe, you are dead in the water if you don’t plan ahead. As a head boys basketball coach I wouldn’t have won many games without mapping out our practice week knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents. Monday is a strong and formidable adversary that warrants our attention.
So how do we defy the Monday morning mojo or lack thereof? We plan.
Your Monday plan of attack must begin on Sunday night (my creative guru Brad Bunkers coached me up on this one). Give yourself a quiet window of time before bed to work through steps 1-4. Acknowledge the fear that you’re going to have a more challenging time focusing and flowing Monday morning than most other days. The mere act of acknowledging this lessens its power.
Here’s my game plan for defying the creative doldrums of Mondays:
- Create your week’s to do list.
- Break down your Monday list. (Word of caution here. Avoid your propensity to overload your Monday. This is common practice for over-achievers and creative types, but don’t set yourself up for failure on Day One of your work week as this can create negative self talk that carries over throughout the week).
- Schedule your Monday in a planner or on a calendar app. This is critical. Otherwise it’s too easy to flounder, get distracted and venture off course.
- Figure out your Monday morning place (if you don’t have one, find one). As a coach, I always started our Monday practice with lively music, fun drills and good energy. We must do the same with our Monday routines. Find your mojo builder. For me it’s a local coffee shop with a strong vibe. It’s where I start most work mornings. On Mondays it’s a must.
- Dress to impress. Some are able to work from home in their pj’s, but I think most of us need a little kick in the ass on Monday. Dress as if you’re going to the office.
- Be kind to yourself. If and when you get stuck, don’t start sabotaging yourself with negative self-talk. Keep it positive and remind yourself that your work as a creative is not a race. Slow and steady.
Mondays don’t have to be a day to be dreaded. When embarking each day upon purposeful and meaningful endeavors, we are bound to hit roadblocks, impediments and sketchy sections of the river, but with proper planning and the right mindset Monday mornings—even those after a holiday weekend–can be a day to capture not simply endure.
What are your mojo builders?
~Michael W. Leach