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What You Need to Know About ‘Bare Minimum Mondays’

Bare Minimum Mondays may be the antidote to the “Sunday Scaries,” according to TikTok. The term went viral when TikToker Marisa Joy Mayes posted about her Monday ritual: doing the bare minimum. Some workers are all about this new workplace trend, others criticize it, but most people are missing a key point when discussing it. Managing your energy requires a holistic approach. 

The story behind Bare Minimum Mondays 

The idea of a Bare Minimum Monday is to ease into the workweek with focus. Rather than overloading your to-do-list, strategically tackle essential tasks and keep self-care top of mind. “One day last March, I gave myself permission to do the absolute bare minimum for work, and it was like some magic spell came over me. I felt better. I wasn’t overwhelmed, and I actually got more done than I expected,” wrote Mayes in a Business Insider essay. 

Her approach to Mondays went viral and received mixed opinions. Some people called it lazy and entitled. Others shared that they’d get fired or that it would mess up their workload during the rest of the week. Many said it was a genius idea they couldn’t wait to embrace. 

Why Bare Minimum Mondays is a little overhyped 

Ryan Johnson, the founder of the specialized strategic consulting firm Bread & Circuses and management expert, has another take. Take the hype with a grain of salt, but consider ways to manage your mental energy beyond doing a #bareminimumonday. 

“I think the trend says more about paths to social media virality than anything. Extreme opinions with pithy slogans gain traction and because they do, the ‘realness’ of the phenomenon can be overblown. That said, at its core, this trend is about approaching work in a way that preserves mental energy, which in and of itself is worthy to think about,” he says.

The fact that Bare Minimum Mondays gained momentum also says a lot about the state of workplace culture. Remote and hybrid work is here to stay, and with these work arrangements come blurred work-life boundaries. “Workers are rightfully concerned with their overall well-being and are looking for ways to remain happy and productive,” says Johnson. 

According to him, some concerns over mental health in the workplace may be exacerbated by remote work and the lack of social connection that can come with it. “It’s not an argument for a full return to on-site work, but it potentially points to companies having a hard time establishing the right balance,” he adds. In other words, Bare Minimum Mondays may not be as much of a phenomenon as you think. The interest in it reveals underlying workplace tendencies and a desire for balance. 

Beyond Bare Minimum Mondays 

“If someone feels that they need to follow tactics like this to preserve their mental energy, I would suggest taking a broader view of what is actually going on and doing an energy audit: understand the things in their workday that add to their energy and understand the things that subtract,” recommends Johnson. Then, see how feasible it is to limit or eliminate the things that drain your energy: Can you kill tasks, delegate them, or improve them so they are less mentally taxing? On the flip side, figuring out how to lean into activities that generate energy is equally important. “The problem is mental energy is not only something to be preserved, it is something that can be created. Bare Minimum Mondays seem to focus on the former when the focus should also be on the latter,” says Johnson. 

If, despite your efforts to configure your job to be energizing instead of draining, you still dread the week ahead, it may be time to cut your losses instead of resorting to doing Bare Minimum Mondays forever. “The answer might be that there are just too many mentally draining activities and people in your role. At this point, it might be time to consider moving on. Life is too short to spend time figuring out how to phone it in, and that is a path to less, not more – as your skills will dull and your impact in your company will dwindle,” adds Johnson. And if you do want to take away something from the trend, remember that Mayes came up with it to counteract the unrealistic expectations and pressure she was putting on herself.

“For anyone interested in trying it, pay attention to where you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself or setting unrealistic expectations,” she wrote. “It’s really a way to start the week by prioritizing yourself as a person over yourself as an employee. It’s radically changed my life, not because of productivity, but because of that self-compassion.” 

Now that’s a guiding principle you can embrace any day of the week. 

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