Cleveland Clinic makes case for 'bare minimum Mondays'

Doing less at work can, indeed, yield better health outcomes, according to a Dec. 4 article from Cleveland Clinic

The article zeroes in on "bare minimum Mondays," a workforce trend that emerged this year. Like "quiet quitting," the idea promotes work-life balance over maximizing productivity. On a bare-minimum Monday, workers ease into the workweek rather than charging ahead full force. 

While the idea might make managers squirm, it has notable health benefits, according to Alaina Tiani, PhD, a clinical health psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic's Sleep Disorders Center. Dr. Tiani said she frequently sees patients who get the "Sunday scaries" and have trouble falling asleep as they stress over their to-do list for the next day. 

While the approach is not feasible for everyone — for example, a surgeon should never clock in for a bare minimum Monday — reframing one's mindset around the first day of the week can help reduce anxiety and promote success later in the week, Dr. Tiani said. 

"It's not about doing less so much as reducing the pressure that we put on ourselves," she said. 

Dr. Tiani recommended completing only the most necessary tasks on Monday, not "wishful thinking tasks." She also suggested using the day for work that requires less deep thinking — for example, someone in a creative field might take Mondays to do administrative tasks. 

Workers also could benefit from taking time to themselves on Monday. She recommended setting aside space to stretch or complete a puzzle; completing a personal task such as refilling a prescription or scheduling a home repair; ordering takeout; or if the employee has a flexible job, even pushing back the start time or working from home. 

"I think it allows for a gentler start to the week," Dr. Tiani said. "We're not machines. It's OK to have different levels of productivity and energy — to not have the same exact output every single day. There are going to be days where we do more things on our to-do list and some days where we accomplish less. It's all about finding that balance. 

"We've valorized overwork for a long time. While a good work ethic is important, overworking is often not sustainable and comes at the expense of physical and mental well-being."

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