Your Perfect Week at Work

Mondays are like blood tests: Dreaded, but never quite as bad as you think they'll be.

And science confirms it. People’s moods actually vary very little from Monday to Thursday, according to a new study in the Journal of Positive Psychology. But you still probably rank Monday as the bluest day of the week. The reason: Since we’re happier on weekends, there’s a dramatic shift in mood from Sunday to Monday that isn’t nearly as extreme the rest of the week. That’s why Wednesdays and Thursdays never seem terrible in retrospect.

Of course, none of that changes one key fact: heading back to the office after the weekend can be tough. That’s why we asked our experts to help make your Monday through Thursday better. Here’s what to do when at work, and why it’ll score you the results (read: money, acclaim, power) you’re looking for.

Weekdays at 6 a.m.

Send Your Most Important Email
“We all know we shouldn’t check email first thing when we wake up, but we do,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. “An email sent first thing in the morning will be on top of the pile when people start wading through their inbox, so they’re more likely to open it.” Meanwhile, jumpstart your day with this important email: the FREE Men's Health Daily Dose newsletter. It's chock-full of work, fitness, health, and relationships advice that can improve your life before your second cup of coffee.

Monday at 9 a.m.

Focus on Your Most Tedious Task
Mondays are a terrible time to get anyone’s attention, says Katy Tynan, author of Survive Your Promotion. Their inboxes are on fire. Your move: Clean out yours or focus on a looming tedious task. “We wake up with a fresh supply of self-discipline that we use up throughout the day,” says Vanderkam. “In the morning it’s as strong as it will ever be.” (If you need a boost, try one of these 10 Ways to Increase Your Productivity.)

Monday or Tuesday Afternoon

Schedule a Weekly Check-in with Your Boss
When it comes to face time with your manager, scheduling a weekly one-on-one on Monday or Tuesday is much better than putting one on the calendar for Thursday or Friday, says Joel Garfinkle, author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. You’ll leave with action steps for the week instead of leaving for the weekend.

Wednesday Morning or Afternoon

Gather Your Team Together for a Meeting
Johnny Cash was onto something with his song “Wednesday Car.” “It’s an old saying that you want to buy a car built on a Wednesday,” says Tynan. Why? It’s the middle of the week when people are focused—not sloppily returning from a weekend, or already looking to the next. Your move: Keep meetings before or after lunch—10 a.m. or 2 p.m. both work well. Otherwise you’re dealing with tired, hungry, resentful, or zoned-out people.

Thursday Afternoon

Ask for That Promotion
Before you choose a day, know two things: your boss’ schedule and your company’s business cycle, says Tynan. “If your boss has a Wednesday morning meeting, don’t ask for a meeting right after it,” she adds. If you work for more of a seasonal company, asking for a raise when business is bad isn’t your best move. Also, schedule a meeting with your boss after you accomplish something significant, says Garfinkle. (In other words, you saved the company money, you made the company money, or you solved a problem.) “The lens through which your boss looks at you is very positive right then,” he adds. Aim toward the end of the week when his mood’s on the upswing.

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Additional writing and reporting by Cassie Shortsleeve

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