Is bare-minimum Monday a bad thing?

You know that feeling of dread that hits late on a Sunday afternoon, as tomorrow it’s back to the grind? That’s known as the Sunday Scaries, and this latest TikTok-viral work trend is the answer: bare-minimum Mondays.

The term was coined by Marisa Jo Mayes, who gives advice on productivity and burnout on TikTok. She says in a video on her channel that she used to feel anxious every Sunday and start the work week feeling overwhelmed by her long to-do list. And then guilty when she failed to get everything done.

To fix that, she made a to-do list every Sunday night but only included the bare minimum tasks that absolutely had to be ticked off on Monday. “I get to decide how to spend the rest of my Monday, and that often looks something like self-care or doing something that would set me up to having a really good rest of the week,” she says.

Work self-care — use Mondays to your advantage

Bare-minimum Mondays can seem like an offshoot of quiet quitting. That is one way of looking at it: home workers, in particular, can use the first few hours of the week to slack while catching up on laundry. Or put their feet up and watch Netflix with their email open, and so on.

But bare-minimum Mondays can also be a smart way to set yourself up for the week. Rather than dive straight into tasks, you can take the time to think through the week strategically. Plan your schedule, organise your time efficiently. Starting the week without that frantic feeling can not only help avoid the Sunday Scaries, but also reduce stress throughout the week.

The trick is to give yourself time. Don’t book any meetings, don’t have immediate deadlines — keep those to Friday if you can. Instead, sit down and get key bits and pieces done to set yourself up for the week while having a nice cup of tea.

Is productivity lower on Mondays? It doesn’t have to be

Managers fear not: this isn’t about slacking but working better. The core idea of bare-minimum Mondays is ending the impending feeling of dread at the end of the weekend by working strategically rather than frantically. And you don’t want your employees hating Mondays, do you?

To support or encourage this behaviour in a positive way, perhaps it’s more palatable for managers to dub it a “meeting-free Monday morning”. No one should start their week with a high-pressure Zoom call that requires planning or preparation — because if that work isn’t completed by Friday, it’s going to be a source of stress all weekend.

If you insist on a short “all hands” meeting each Monday, either virtually or in person, keep it light — you’re saying hello and touching base, not making serious strategic decisions. Don’t put staff on the spot by demanding answers; instead, set up a time later that day or week to catch up when they’ve had time to prepare properly.

For staff working at home, don’t demand they sign in to workplace monitoring tools — or even Slack — first thing in the morning. Instead, trust that they’re at their laptop. For those working in the office, encourage staff to grab a hot drink and have a chat with their colleagues before getting down to business. It might not entirely end the Sunday Scaries, but anything that can make Mondays a bit gentler is worth a shot.    

Nicole Kobie
Nicole Kobie

Nicole is a journalist and author who specialises in the future of technology and transport. Her first book is called Green Energy, and she's working on her second, a history of technology. At TechFinitive she frequently writes about innovation and how technology can foster better collaboration.