Don’t Start Monday Morning With Inbox Catchup

A new week of work requires inspiration, not box-ticking

Sarah Begley

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Photo by Stephen Phillips - Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Pretty much every Monday morning of my career so far, I have started the day with inbox catchup. I never feel like I can put my head down on the week’s work until I’ve responded to everyone who needs a response, or at least made a mental note of which emails will require my attention in the near future.

I think this makes intuitive sense, and is probably the way most people start their weeks. But lately, I’ve been toying with a different Monday morning kickoff, one that is less rote and more inspiring for the week ahead.

Over a Monday morning coffee, I’ll read some big-picture thinking, whether it’s a strategy doc that a colleague has shared or a business book whose advice can help shake loose some new ideas. Today, I paged through the HBR Guide to Managing Strategic Initiatives and found this quote that got me thinking:

Colleagues need to be able to understand your idea in the context of the company’s past measures. People often think their initiative has to be newer than new, but really it should be between 80% and 90% old—not radically new, but incrementally so.

That got me thinking about how my new project was actually an iteration on an old project, and loosened the jar enough for me to spring into drafting a strategy brief that drew on old thinking but highlighted new goals. What might have taken much longer if I had hemmed and hawed my way through it went very quickly, because—not to put too fine a point on it—I was inspired.

Not only that, it set a context for the rest of my day, so every other task and meeting could be understood as part of a broader set of goals. And if something didn’t contribute to those goals? Well, maybe it shouldn’t be on my to-do list at all.

What could you spend time reading on Monday mornings to start the work week on a more inspiring note? My friend Kara Cutruzzula wrote a motivational journal, Do It For Yourself, that always gets the juices flowing. Medium’s Index publication has lots of great workplace advice. And as mentioned, I always love to dip into the HBR library. I’d love to hear about your own favorite work-inspo reading in the comments.

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Sarah Begley

Director at Medium working with authors and books. Formerly a staff writer and editor at Time.