35 Easy Things You Can Do on a Sunday to Start Your Week Off Right
It’s Sunday. And instead of feeling refreshed after a restful weekend, a full 76 percent of us are amped up with pre-Monday anxiety. Well, if we can’t take it easy, why not take control? Here, 35 ways to set yourself up for success.
1. Sleep in as late as you want. A new study published in the Journal of Sleep Research confirms what we (and millions of college students) already knew: Sleeping in on Sunday does the body and mind a world of good. If you sleep fewer than seven hours a night, but catch up on the weekends, you’re no worse off than those who slept seven hours each night.
2. Prioritize your to-do list. Put big, daunting, urgent, complex goals on top and low-priority tasks at the bottom. Why? “While it may be tempting to ease into your day, you’re better off completing the hardest tasks first,” writes Career Contessa’s Hillary Hoffower. “Prioritize the three most important tasks of your day—whether it’s something you need to get done ASAP, a chore you’re dreading or a time-consuming project—and get them out of the way. Once you check them off, your day will be that much easier.”
3. Map out one big goal (in baby steps). It’s called micro-progress—by splitting more daunting tasks into a bunch of smaller tasks, your goals become much more achievable, says productivity whiz Tim Herrera.
4. Balance your calendar. You’re checking your schedule for next week and, oh shoot, you booked five meetings in a row on Thursday. And what day did you promise Cousin Carol you’d meet her for lunch? Get things in order now (including rescheduling two of those Thursday meetings) so you aren’t frazzled midweek.
5. Put exercise on your schedule. Treat Pilates the same way you would a dentist’s appointment. (As in, not optional.)
6. Prep a meal—any meal. Whether it’s the next morning’s pancake batter, sandwiches for the kids’ lunches or the salad you’ll eat at your desk, getting ahead with a single entrée leaves your future self more time to make what you’ll really need Monday morning: coffee.
7. Did someone say “coffee?” Brew up a batch of iced coffee (or better yet, cold brew) and stash a pitcher in your fridge. No time to stop at Starbucks? No problemo.
8. Plan multiple outfits. If one fails to entice the next morning, you’ve got backups. (And if they all end up working out, you’ve got a new work uniform. Win-win.)
9. Check out the week’s forecast. You know all those looks you just planned? Pair coats, shoes and accessories accordingly.
10. Read a funny book. Laughter has been proven to reverse the effects of stress and is used as therapy to mitigate depression. If you’re single, read Glynnis MacNicol’s memoir, No One Tells You This. If you’re a parent, read Kim Brooks's Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear.
11. Podcast clean. Hear us out: Whether you’re listening to the soothing voice of Terry Gross or the inspiring intimacies of the Reese Witherspoon-produced How It Is, scraping tomato sauce off your kitchen backsplash will never feel so enlightening.
12. Haul that crap out of your car already. We read this series of questions from Benjamin Hardy, author of Willpower Doesn’t Work, and practically sprinted out to the garage with antibacterial wipes: “Is your living space cluttered and messy or simple and neat? Do you keep stuff (like clothes) you no longer use? If you have a car, is it clean or just another place to keep your clutter and garbage? Does your environment facilitate the emotions you consistently want to experience? Does your environment drain or improve your energy?” (We would add to that list: “Is that Cheerios dust in your AC vent?” and “How old is that peach?”)
13. Take a shower, solve a problem. It turns out, we actually do get our best ideas in the shower, per researchers. According to cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kauffman, “The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams.” In fact, most people reported having more creative ideas in the shower than they did at work. So much for that 4 p.m. brainstorming meeting.
14. Look inward. There’s no right or wrong for this one. Whether it’s a spiritual practice or SoulCycle, a centered Sunday makes for a kickass Monday. There’s a reason mindfulness is major. One study found that terminally ill patients “who engaged in spiritual practices and thinking had a greater rate of survival than people who did not—two to four times greater, in fact,” reports The Atlantic.
15. Do something indulgent. #SelfcareSunday is trending. So you won’t be the only one treating yourself to a three-hour brunch, a “skin-hugging” sheet mask that costs more than your entire Trader Joe’s haul or a trip to the farmers’ market to buy flowers for your desk. (Wait, did we just describe the perfect Sunday?)
16. Consider #SoberSundays. Mimosas at brunch and Malbec before bed may sound like your typical Sunday. But hangovers worsen the worries Monday mornings bring. And ugh, there’s even a name for this awful phenomenon: Hanxiety.
17. Purge something. Your fridge, your purse, your inbox, your desktop, your contacts (bye, toxic friend), your Instagram. So fresh. So clean.
18. Do big laundry. Duvets, sheets, bath towels, your massive fluffy robe. When you wrap yourself in any of them Monday night, you’ll be so glad you did.
19. Call your mom. A study by the Stanford School of Medicine found that hearing your mother’s voice triggers a release of oxytocin (aka feel-good brain chemicals) within seconds.
21. Take your pup to the dog park. Exactly the right amount of social interaction an introvert requires.
22. Set an intention. Maybe you want to be braver this week. Or calmer. Or kinder. Write down one word on a Post-It Note and stick it to your fridge or mirror. It can’t hurt. (Unless your husband comes home late from work Monday night, sees “Be brave” on a Post-it on the fridge and decides to garnish leftover brisket with jalapeño pickles. In which case, it can hurt. Everyone.)
23. Forest bathe. Lower stress, higher immunity, more ahhh, less aack! Sundays are for shinrin-yoku.
24. …Then repay Mother Nature by doing something nice for her. Go plogging. Hit the beach with a trash bag and pick up litter. Finally start composting your food waste (you can do it, even if you live in the city). It feels so much better than shopping online for stuff you don’t need.
25. Look ahead at your kids’ week. Packing the lacrosse bag on Sunday night even though practice isn’t until Thursday? Game changing.
26. Look at the week ahead with your kids. Homework? Check. Permission slip? Check. Letting them know you’ll be working late on Wednesday? Check. Per child psychologist Tovah Klein, “Moving through transitions presents a hurdle for many people—young or old. Most of us prefer consistency, to have things stay the same. Comfort comes in knowing what to expect.”
27. Take something off your kid’s schedule. Another gem, courtesy of Klein: “Kids need a supportive environment where they can play, have fun and learn about themselves through problem solving. They don’t need dual language classes. They’ll be happy just building Legos with you on the floor.”
28. Prioritize Sunday family dinner. According to a study by Columbia University, kids who lived in a household with at least five family dinners per week had better relationships with their parents. (But if you can’t swing that, don’t worry—breakfast counts, too.)
29. Have sex. Benefits include a stronger immune system, a reduction in chronic pain, and it officially counts as exercise. Need we say more?
30. Dock your tech and have family game night. Good sportsmanship, social-emotional development, improved sharing and negotiation skills—who knew Candyland could be so healthy?
31. Treat Sunday night like Saturday night. Go bowling with your family. Race go-carts. Go out to dinner with friends at that hot, new (and empty, because it’s Sunday night) restaurant. Basically, live it up—and live in denial that Monday morning is looming (but remember hanxiety and go easy on the margaritas).
32. Make appointments…with yourself. A tip from Laura Vanderkam’s book, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: “You have to set an appointment to go off the grid, as surely as to go on it.” If you want to read a book, listen to music or clean out your closet, set a time on your Sunday calendar to do just that—even if you have literally nothing else planned that day. Then stick to it. Otherwise, the social media wormhole awaits. You’ve been warned.
33. Hug your kids. We have fewer than 1,000 Sundays with each child in our care, notes Vanderkam. So skip soccer and go get ice cream, dammit. (We’re not crying, you’re crying.)
35. Read a boring book. Can’t sleep? The combination of reading something less-than-scintillating while lying down in a comfy, quiet place is as universal a cure for insomnia as we’re likely to find. Keeping up with dry text requires effort (so…*yawn*…tiring) and may also lead to daydreaming, both of which get us closer to sleep, psychologist Dr. Christian Jarrett tells the BBC. In 15 pages, you’ll be out. Guaranteed.