Go ahead, make my Monday

The dreaded first day of the work week cops a bad rap, writes James Adonis.

The dreaded first day of the work week cops a bad rap, writes James Adonis.

Ugh, Mondays. Depending on when you're reading this, one of them is either just around the corner or already here. It's the most popular day of the week for chucking a sickie, and for good reason. It's a feeling otherwise known as Mondayitis and, for some of us, it begins on a Friday.

Despite some scepticism, it's an affliction that actually exists. One poll from a couple of years ago found people spend about 34 minutes complaining on a Monday morning; the average on other weekdays falls to just 22 minutes.

Mondayitis is not just a modern symptom of the intensity with which people work these days. It's been around for ages, way before work-life balance became part of the lexicon.

For example, on Tuesday, October 12, 1926, there was an interesting reference to Mondayitis (on the front page, no less) in Tasmanian newspaper The Advocate. Just underneath an informative piece on "How Pirates Work" and to the left of an advertisement on mail-order teeth was some useful advice on how to avoid the emotional perils of a Monday morning.

The cause of Mondayitis, wrote the author, is overindulgent eating on the weekend. This affects the liver and explains why people feel sluggish come Monday. "In such instances, a dose of Dr Morse's Indian Root Pills taken before retiring on Sunday night will prove most beneficial," suggests the scribe.

Sadly, the pills, which were promoted with a really enticing slogan - "the Overnight Laxative with the Tonic Action" - ceased to be distributed here in 1992. So, we're forced to resort to other solutions instead.

One of these could be to scrap Mondays altogether by embracing a four-day working week. It's a policy the Greens took to the most recent NSW state election.

It's not a bad idea, and it's one that worked really well in Utah when 17,000 government employees were forced to do it as a cost-saving measure. The results were amazing. Sickies plummeted. Greenhouse gas emissions were slashed. Staff saved $6 million on petrol costs. And, despite being hostile to the move initially, 82 per cent of employees eventually wanted it to stay.

The four-day working week was scrapped, though, in 2011 - for political reasons, of course, rather than any objective evidence. But I wonder if Mondayitis would have become Tuesdayitis under that arrangement? Perhaps a long weekend every weekend would have made it even more difficult to return to work.

An alternative could simply be to sleep better. A study conducted at Flinders University - albeit on a small sample size of 16 participants - discovered that people were more fatigued on a Monday when they tried to catch up on sleep over the weekend. Oddly, we become more tired on the days that follow a sleep-in than on the days that precede it.

Others become idealistic when exploring a cure for Mondayitis. Just find a job you love, they proclaim. This is a fanciful notion for a lot of employees but, nonetheless, easier to accomplish in Australia than in other countries where unemployment rates are crippling.

A more realistic option is to make your job a little more enjoyable. Studies indicate the best way of doing this is by incorporating your talents and maximising your strengths at work. Too many of us focus too much on our weaknesses and limitations, thereby making us dread heading to work on a Monday.

Or maybe it's just time to get over the whole "I hate Mondays" thing.

A clever new Starbucks advertisement in the UK aims to do just that. In a bid to minimise such animosity, the ad proclaims that a man first walked on the moon on a Monday, Big Ben first chimed on a Monday, Macbeth was first performed on a Monday and now you can get cheap lattes on a Monday!

Ah, yes, caffeine, one of the world's most popular drugs. Well, that's one way to turn a glum Mondayitis into a less-glum "Monday it is".

Follow James Adonis on Twitter @jamesadonis

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