Sundays are extremely powerful because like mornings, they’re usually completely free of external distractions. Except quiet mornings only last a couple hours. Sundays last a whole 24 hours. During the week, you only control so much of your environment and the things that will come at you. But on Sundays, you have a lot less distractions. And the ones you do are less annoying and challenging than the buzz of the week.
Sunday is the one day you can set aside for yourself, the one day where you don’t have to be accountable to anyone.
That being said, with great power comes great responsibility, and it’s easy to let a free day go by without making the most out of it. It doesn’t mean working all the time, or trying to get better at something more, or worrying about being good enough. Making the most out of your Sunday means using it to recharge your batteries in a way that adds value to your life. Actively resourcing yourself, as opposed to passively watching the day go by.
Sunday is reset day, blank slate day, and rejuvenation day. Let’s look at 5 things worth doing on that day that will guarantee you have the best week ever.
#1 Review your calendar
Getting a bird’s eye view of your week in advance will make it a lot easier to anticipate hick-ups and glitches in your schedule. Review the most important events of the week, and make sure you have a clear mental timeline of how things are gonna go.
You can also use this time to work on potential scenarios where things wouldn’t go as planned. For instance, meetings that are likely to get cancelled. Would you get off work earlier? What would you do with the extra time available?
Another obvious thing to check is the weekly weather report. A lot of people check the weather everyday, but few look at how it’s going to sync with their calendar in advance. You can’t do anything about bad weather, and it can be a real bummer when it gets in the way of your plans. Even though weather forecast is never 100% accurate, it’s always better to plan based on prediction rather than intuition.
Based on that same principle, don’t hesitate to shuffle things around in your calendar. Try to find the best workflow of events. What makes sense to attend and/or do before what else? It’s really important to identify the slots where you will be able to have time for yourself: your hobby, your family, your friends…
For instance, instead of having 2 events of 1 hour spread over Tuesday and Wednesday after work, try and see if you can have both on Tuesday. You’ll be a bit more tired on Wednesday, but you’ll have an extra hour for yourself!
#2 Review your goals and todos
Goals and todos work together with your calendar. They are the desired end result, and your calendar is the path to take you there.
What do you want to achieve this week, and on what level? For most of us, our life revolves around 2 main axis:
- Personal life
- Work life
Identify what targets you want to reach in both categories. List down your goals, and block time to work on them during the week.
An important aspect here is to not get ahead of yourself. Don’t expect to check off goals you know will hardly be reachable within the span of a week. Medium to long-term goals are a whole other story. For your weekly planning, you should focus on 3 main goals maximum. You can at first write down a list of 10 or even more things to do. From there, there will be 2 options:
- All the goals are really different and don’t work well together. You won’t be able to focus your energy in an optimal way on each of them. You need to go back to 3 main targets, and identify sub-tasks (todos)
- Your goals work pretty well together, and they have a lot in common. You should be able to fit them in 3 main categories. Those are your 3 main targets for the week. The items within those 3 categories are just sub-tasks (todos)
I always write way too many goals for the week. I make a conscious effort to cut down the list or group items, and focus on 3 things, not more. It’s all about simplification and prioritisation.
It’s important to differentiate todos and goals. As mentioned above, todos are sub-tasks. They are actionable steps which add up to reaching your goals. The goal is only mental, it’s the bigger picture.
If you want to fix a car, you don’t just fix it out of the blue. There is a multitude of specific, actionable steps to take. You work hard on it and the car will start. It’s the same with reaching your goals. You work on actionable steps, the rest will flow.
One final tip: assign priority levels to your todo items, in case you miss your deadlines.
- Priority 1. Postpone to the day after
- Priority 2. Postpone to maximum end of week
- Priority 3. Postpone to next week
#3 Do all your chores and clean
The best way to go through chores and cleaning is by having a list of items to check off. For instance, here is what mine looks like:
- Clean toilet
- Clean shower
- Clean sink and mirror
- Vacuum floor
- Tidy things lying on flat surfaces (tables, counters…)
- Vacuum floor
- Wipe tables
- Change bedsheets
- Organize papers on desk
- Vacuum floor
- Clean bedside tables
- Wipe counters
- Wash leftover dishes
- Do laundry
- Clean terrace if necessary
- Groceries for the week (online, takes 30 mins)
It’s a pretty classic chores list. All I have to do is allocate the time I know this will take me, show up, and tackle each item one by one.
Chores are always annoying. But the more you postpone them, the more friction you will create in your environment, and the more you will prevent yourself from getting things done. So just do it.
#4 Be mindful and thought-provoking
This is my absolute favourite part of Sundays, and the reason why Sunday is my favourite day. This part is split in 2 main categories.
- Spiritual “Soulful Sunday”
- Reflective “Thoughtful Sunday”
Each category translates into a set of questions. You can write your answers in a journal, digital or physical.
Oprah Winfrey has a show called Supersoul Sunday. She sits down with guests, supposedly on Sundays, to have meaningful conversations and develop a deeper connection to the world around us.
That’s exactly what your Soulful Sunday should be about. You are your own guest, and you try to worry about yourself first before worrying about the world around you.
Here are questions you can ask yourself.
- Am I happy with my current relationships, the people I meet and see?
- What do I need to work on?
- Am I where I want to be spiritually?
- How is my meditation going? Why? What can I do to improve it? (Only if you meditate)
- What has been going great this week? What am I satisfied with?
- Was I kind enough this week?
- Did I get unnecessarily upset this week?
- Did I learn anything this week? Why? Why not?
This list is not exhaustive nor tailored. It is important that you choose your own questions and your own level of introspection.
If you have never practiced mindfulness and/or mental checkins before, this can be a bit overwhelming at first. In this part I assume you have come to the realisation that change is required to move forward in life, and that you are now working on it. Here are a few articles I recommend if you’re still working on the realisation part:
Bill Gates has Think Weeks. He goes to a little cabin near a lake, with a ton of books, paper, a pen and food for the week. He sits down and thinks about problems, solutions, ideas and crazy things.
That’s exactly what your Thoughtful Sunday should be about. Except it’s every Sunday, and it’s not for a whole week. Here are questions you can ask yourself to generate ideas. Again, you can make your own list, this one is only to give you potential ideas:
- What slowed me down on a practical level this week? What could be done faster?
- I have this project I am working on, what are the next practical steps?
- What do I need to move forward with my project?
- I wrote down this great idea in my journal on Tuesday, how can I elaborate on it?
- I am thinking of taking this trip next year, how can I make this work?
- How can I financially invest in my self-development next month?
- What are some objects I use in my everyday life that could work so much better? Why are some things so badly designed?
- I read this one part I loved in this book, I want to learn more about it specifically. Where can I find more information about this?
Unlike Soulful Sunday, a lot of Thoughtful Sunday might get lost in your journal and never find its way into the real world. You might work on ideas that will never live, projects that will die, things that just won’t happen.
And that’s ok, it’s part of it. The goal here is not to get more things done, but to stimulate your thinking and work on your vision. Getting ideas is always a good momentum generator.
By now, you have:
- Reviewed your upcoming events
- Outlined your actionable steps towards your goals
- Cleaned your place
- Had your Soulful and Thoughtful Sunday session
Now is the time to relax. Do whatever you want, whatever makes you happy. Of course, never lie to yourself by doing things you know are inherently bad for you. Part of the whole change process is also to be more self-aware.
A lot of people are not even consciously aware that their diet is bad, or that they spend way too much time watching TV, even if it’s Sunday. They consider it a complete normal thing and don’t question it. Other people feel bad about it but keep doing it. If you’re part of your own change, you have acknowledged all this, and you know how to find the good ratio between relaxation and self-development.
If it’s a sunny day, go outside. If it’s a rainy day and you’re into rain, go outside as well. If you’re not, make a cup of coffee, read a book, with your slippers on. Indulge in a Snickers bar. Watch an interesting documentary, play a board game with your loved ones.
How long should this whole Sunday session take you? It all depends on what you like. I love spending over an hour on Mindfulness and Thinking. I write and sketch ideas in my notepad, I save thoughts in my digital journal. I have a harder time relaxing and don’t spend as much time as I would like just resting. I need to spend more time out on the terrace, drinking coffee, doing nothing, watching the sun rise or the rain pour.
It’s up to you to find the balance that works best with you. The secret is to make your Sunday routine feel as natural and pleasant as a morning routine. Unlike a morning routine, you have the whole day to sprinkle in specific time slots for yourself. It makes it a lot easier to integrate them in your schedule.
A Sunday schedule is a lot more flexible and roomy than a weekly agenda. I’ll have my Soulful Session in the morning with my coffee one Sunday, but have it in the late afternoon the week after. I might feel like cleaning in the evening, or in the morning, it depends.
After a while, it naturally incorporates into your day, no matter the time.
Sunday is the best day of the week. Make it count, make it last, take it all in.