Sunday is vastly underutilized as an opportunity for fueling success and propelling productivity. Now, I understand that Sunday is a sacred day and a day for rest. Heck, even Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sundays. But I can’t rest without sharing how you can embrace Sundays for their full potential, without abandoning the core of what they’re all about.
In conducting interviews for Make It Matter and The Full Potential (two of my books),I interviewed more than a dozen CEOs about a range of topics, including their weekend habits–from which clear themes soon emerged. I blended their insight with my own experience and discussions with many a successful corporate veteran on how their Sundays fit into their success plans. I found a surprising theme of unconventional, counterintuitive approaches, which I’ll now share.
1. Make a withdrawal from the bank, too.
You most often hear about using Sundays (or the weekend) to “put credits back in the bank,” including setting aside time for family, faith, and fun as you may have sacrificed all somewhat during the week.
But high-risers also described to me a practice of immediately converting some of the energy they draw on Sundays from the things that matter most into a very short Sunday night burst of putting positivity and energy into the week ahead. It equates to an energetic five-minute self pep-talk to view the week ahead as filled with promise.
This flies in the face of the usual advice to completely disengage on Sunday and pick it up Monday morning. One CEO put it to me this way: “On Sunday, I put 90 percent back into things that matter most, but I withhold 10 percent to get excited about what lies ahead.”
2. Picture chaos.
One CEO shared with me a very interesting idea. On Sunday night, he specifically imagines the week ahead in chaos–because, despite the best laid plans, that’s often what happens. He imagines that the week gets blown up and disorganized again.
In that scenario, what is the one thing that is non-negotiable, that absolutely must be accomplished no matter what happens? By imagining his week disorganized, he’s able to organize around preserving the one most important thing.
3. Pull the plug. But then plug in.
The typical Sunday advice is to unplug. Set aside the devices and engage in life. I agree–up to a point, and not everyone will agree with what follows. A great Sunday night tactic I learned of is to actually plug back into your electronics for an hour to clear out the inbox and to help clear the mind so you can use Monday morning to move forward instead of sorting through back emails.
4. Take the time to talk yourself off the ledge on Sunday night.
Related to point No. 1, you typically hear of people blocking out work altogether on Sunday night, trying not to engage with that Sunday night malaise that strikes so many (“Ugh, tomorrow is Monday–back to the office”).
But many of the successful people I interviewed described a process of attacking the “sinking feeling in the gut” head on, taking the time to work through why they were feeling it and why the week ahead didn’t need to cause so much angst.
5. Don’t just relax, reorient.
Yes, Sundays are for taking it easy. But it’s also easy to take stock on your life on Sundays. I do this during my Sunday shower. With hot water flowing over my head, I review what the past week held, what the future week might hold, and where I am in my life altogether.
Some would say Sundays are for refreshing. Yes, but they’re also for reflection.
6. Develop an attitude about gratitude.
This sentiment is contradictory. Gratitude is about developing thankfulness, not about developing an attitude. But more than one CEO described to me a process of being vigilant, with a tinge of aggressiveness, about using Sunday to be insistent about showing gratitude. The passiveness of the normal Sunday can be supplemented with a very intentional, focused burst of appreciation for everything one has.
The idea is that the yearning to show gratitude can easily wear off during the week, so you have to force the issue on Sunday. Yes, Sunday is a day of rest. But it can additionally set up the rest of your week in a successful and productive manner.