How to Have a ‘Bare Minimum Monday’ While Still Knocking Out Your To-Do List

Source: Vlada Karpovich | Pexels
Source: Vlada Karpovich | Pexels

If you often feel like you’re swimming in a sea of never-ending to-do lists, you’re not alone. After all, society seemingly expects and demands all our time, energy, and mental resources, leaving us burnt out and anxious AF about the week ahead by the time Sunday rolls around. Enter Bare Minimum Monday, TikTok’s antidote to the Sunday scaries.

Popularized by TikToker Marisa Jo, Bare Minimum Monday glorifies doing the least amount of work by only holding yourself accountable for the bare minimum of tasks you need to get done and dedicating the rest of your day to doing whatever makes you feel good. It’s a great trend in theory, but opting to do the least amount of work possible can be a slippery slope. Here’s why:

Are there any benefits to Bare Minimum Monday?

Life is hard, and living in a world that glorifies round-the-clock hustle doesn’t make it any easier. While we’d all love to have more time to stop and smell the roses, it just isn’t feasible. The world doesn’t stop just because we’re burnt out and overwhelmed—we still have bills to pay, jobs to clock into, and sh*t we need to handle, and slacking off on a Monday just isn’t an option. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with unapologetically going after what you want.

However, that said, we’re all familiar with the inevitable burnout that comes from constantly grinding. In juxtaposition to hustle culture, Bare Minimum Monday encourages prioritizing a healthy work-life balance. So although most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to slack off or skip work on a Monday, we can use the bones of Bare Minimum Monday to work smarter, not harder, and knock out our to-do list while still taking care of our mental health.

5 Ways to Have a Bare Minimum Monday and Still Knock Out Your To-Do List

1. Plan ahead on Friday

Although life will always throw you unexpected surprises, most of us know on Friday what we have going on for the following week. So before signing out for the day and diving into the weekend, take some time to plan ahead. What can you expect from the upcoming week, and how can you make your life easier?

If you know one day will be particularly busy, you might want to prepare your dinner beforehand or opt for takeout that night. Or, if you have a lot of errands to run, try slotting them into one morning or afternoon so you can get everything done in one fell swoop. No matter what you decide, like I said earlier, the goal is to work smarter, not harder, and having a loose plan will help ease those Sunday scaries.

2. Have a solid morning and after-work routine

One of the biggest reasons we experience burnout is because we don’t give ourselves enough downtime. We never truly disconnect—we check and respond to work emails when we’re off the clock and allow our jobs to take up extra space and live rent-free in our heads 24/7. This is why having a solid morning and after-work routine is so important. Having time to unwind before and after work gives you the reset you need to tackle and knock out your tasks for the following day.

Figure out which activities help you reset and implement them into your daily routine, and keep in mind that you’ll want to discard your phone for this so you can really unplug. Prioritize eating a healthy breakfast or getting in a morning workout to get your energy levels up for the day, and give yourself permission to unwind in the evening with a fun craft, a good book or binge-worthy show, or a nice meal. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this; it’s all about finding what works for you.

3. Prioritize tasks in order of urgency and importance

Long to-do lists can feel overwhelming, but prioritizing your tasks in order of urgency and importance can help. To do this, determine which tasks are urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important. Urgent tasks are ones that should be handled first and foremost or by a certain deadline, while important tasks can be put on the back burner for the time being until you can get to them.

For example: a 5:00 PM work deadline is urgent and important, while scheduling an oil change is not urgent but important. Likewise, answering emails would be considered important but not urgent, and cleaning your kitchen floor would be not urgent and not important. Organizing your to-do list like this will streamline it and take some stress off your shoulders; what you have to get done won’t feel so overwhelming, and you’ll be able to check off everything faster than you think.

4. Try time-blocking your week

Juggling multiple career, personal, and leisurely tasks and don’t know how you’re going to get it all done? Time-blocking can help. With this time management method, you block off a certain amount of time for each task or group of tasks you need to get done. By scheduling every part of your day, you don’t waste time bouncing between tasks, and in turn, finish everything quickly and efficiently.

The good news is that this time management method is super easy to use. All you have to do is block off time for work, personal, and leisurely tasks like answering emails, conducting research, making phone calls, running errands, your lunch break, and morning and after-work routine. Grouping similar tasks together during the slot or one after the other is key here; that way, you won’t lose focus jumping to wildly different tasks. Likewise, schedule your most difficult tasks according to your chronotype; if you know you’re most productive during mid-morning or early evening, use those time blocks to tackle your biggest challenges.

5. Don’t let Monday dictate the rest of the week

At the end of the day, there’s only so much we can control. There will be Mondays that are harder than others, and that’s OK—it’s part of life. All you can do is stay flexible, open to unexpected surprises, and willing and able to go with the flow as best you can. While a healthy and productive Bare Minimum Monday can help set you up for success, remember that it doesn’t have to dictate the rest of your week. Everyone has good days and bad ones, and we can’t let one off day set the tone for what’s to come.