I don’t really like the saying, “if you stay ready, then you don’t have to get ready.” It is inaccurate. Preparation, on its face, means a process, experience, proceeding, or the like, as a method of preparing for the future. To “prepare” means to get ready. You do not simply arrive at a destination, goal, or aspiration. You prepare yourself to arrive. It is a process.
While most of us welcome Friday because it is the start of the weekend, and frankly, most of us are ready for the weekend, I have learned that it is just as important to be ready for Monday.
Here are some tips on preparing for Monday:
Before you leave work on Friday, map out what you will accomplish next week. Review your calendar and upcoming goals (look at least a month ahead for what is coming down the pike) and take some time to mentally prepare yourself for that work. If necessary to your peace of mind, and to make your Monday a bit smoother, take work home to review, think about, start, or finish. Or stay at work until you have done on of those things: reviewed, considered, started, or finished a project. I have learned that I can reduce or eliminate worry, stress, and anxiety by crossing something off of my task list, however small, or by simply thinking about a project. More than thinking, however, I have gotten into the habit of trying to also get words on the page. A little progress feels better than no progress.
Make a strategic decision for how you will be a champion for yourself. For instance, think about where you are and where you want to be. How will you get there? For a Friday afternoon, this does not have to be a marathon-esque mental exercise. It can be as simple as: “I want to get more work from [named partner, senior associate, member, higher-up].” And then decide on just ONE activity for next week that will help you lay the foundation for accomplishing that goal. You may decide to stop by that partner’s office and ask about a case he or she is working on. You may stop by and let the partner know that you would love to get a lunch on the books to pick his or her brain about his practice, specialty, community work, etc. It will be an extreme anomaly if your invitation is rejected.
Spend the time on Sunday preparing for Monday. Do not walk into the office Monday morning visibly tired and just…over it. People should not wonder why you look so tired, because I assure you, they will assume the worst.
Wear your best clothes on Monday and Wednesday, the day after the weekend, and Hump Day. These are traditionally tough days to endure in the office. When you dress your best, you tend to feel better. In my view, it is the same concept as exercising. Granted, you might not be releasing serotonin and endorphins when you get dressed, but who can deny that your mood elevates when you know you look great?
I also prepare my meals for the week on Sunday from start to finish. This means I usually plan my meals, buy groceries, cook two meals (one for lunch and one for dinner; my breakfast does not usually involve any heavy lifting), and store my meals in tupperware. It is a huge stress reliever and time-saver to not have to think about where your meals are coming from during the week, especially if you are incredibly busy. Finally, I make sure my gym bag is packed and ready to go on Sunday night. It is hard enough for me to get up on Monday morning, I don’t need the extra stress of finding my gear.
Take home a journal article, one or two slip opinions, or some other educational piece about your industry. And read it! Or at least skim it for the main ideas. I did this yesterday by reading and skimming slip opinions from the Illinois Supreme Court and I feel better about my knowledge of case precedent. I also feel more confident that even if I don’t currently have those legal issues before me, I am aware that new precedent exists. My legal research will be easier and all the better for it.