Bare Minimum Mondays

Bare Minimum Mondays Sue Ellson David Campbell Sylvia Jeffreys on The Today Show

Bare Minimum Monday™️

By Sue Ellson

When I first heard about Bare Minimum Monday™️ – a term coined by Marisa Jo Mayes on TikTok, I immediately saw it as a great way to rethink how we work and to reflect on that idea every week. It turns out that Marisa Jo is the Co-Founder of SpaceTime Monotasking and she has clearly been very strategic by creating this slogan to get across the message that it is time for all of us to stick to one task at a time and to make better use of our time without burning out, feeling stressed or pressured and ultimately feeling better overall.

I shared this story with the Daily Mail and they published this piece on ‘The rise of ‘bare minimum Mondays’ – and why it’s the latest job trend taking thousands of workers by storm.’

I was also interviewed on Channel 9’s The Today Show on ‘Why ‘bare minimum Mondays’ might actually be better for everybody.

You can watch the interview here!

After that, a story on ‘Want to beat Monday blues? TikTok’s work culture trend, Bare Minimum Mondays, might’ve answers‘ edited by Kirtika Katira was published in India’s Word is One WION and then a story on ‘Workplace trends: Forget quiet quitting, now it’s bare-minimum Mondays‘ by Kate Emery was published in The West Australian Newspaper

In my personal view, in the past, many of us believed that ‘presenteeism’ would lead to ‘promotion’ so a lot of our work was arranged to last over a longer day – but now, thanks to technology and a focus on results rather than time spent, a lot of routine tasks can be completed by technology – and we have also discovered that we can function more effectively in short bursts (think the Pomodoro technique where you work for 25 minutes followed by a short 3-5 minute break).

I would also add that now that ChatGPT and various other Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Predictive Tools are available to us (including Windows 11, Bing and Google upgrades), there is more time spent strategizing rather than processing. In my view, this requires a higher mental load. For example, deleting spam emails is an easy task, interpreting six tasks to complete from a boss’s email is a lot harder.

The good news is that we won’t necessarily lose our jobs to AI, but we may lose our jobs to someone who can use AI more effectively than we can, so keeping up to date could be part of the bare minimum focus rather than plodding along with the same-old same-old approach.

As an example, people who are across tools that can apply rules to emails – for example, send all emails from company X to the X Folder and process like with like can improve speed and efficiency. So on a bare minimum day, workers could think more carefully about what is urgent (needs to be done right now) and what is important (needs to be done soon but could be done on Tuesday instead of Monday). It could actually be a great productivity hack to ensure you are at peak capacity when it really counts.

I know for myself that when I have competing demands in a workday, I have to focus on the most urgent. This skill increased exponentially when I became a parent. I thought I was well organised before having a child, but I became much more aware of addressing the urgent high priority items first and often found I could do in two to three hours what I used to do in eight hours. I couldn’t do it every day, but on the days I needed to, I had the option of focusing on what was most important.

The concept of a ‘bare minimum’ is also a health and wellbeing technique. It is not worth burning out and being incapable the following day. In my view, it is far better to work fewer hours at 80-90% effectiveness and allow your body to rest and recover (not spend more time scrolling on your phone as that is up to around three to 5.5 hours per day). This is why the concept of the four day work week has been trialled and proven to be so effective.

More than 3,300 employees at 70 UK companies have begun working a four day working week with no reduction in pay. The pilot project ran for six months and is based on the 100-80-100 model: 100% pay for 80% of the time in exchange for a commitment to maintain 100% productivity.

Here is another piece showing that the four-day week trial confirms working less increases wellbeing and productivity

So for those people still working a five day week, the idea of a bare minimum Monday sounds like a great technique to make sure you re-evaluate what you are doing on a regular basis and see if you can improve your capability and results.

But if you are worried about the cost of living, and your second job and side hustle, then borrow this idea and allocate some time to working out what can work best for you going forward…By doing the bare minimum, you may find you focus on the bare essentials…

If you are an employer, this could be a reminder to think about the 20% of tasks that provide 80% of the results and re-focus on these work processes on a more regular basis.

If you decide to implement it for yourself, I would suggest that you disrupt what you would normally do. You could try working from a different location. If you normally work from home on a Monday, you could try working from a local cafe, library or co-working space. If you work onsite, you could try shuffling the day around a little or co-working with a colleague.

You could also write a shorter to-do list of essential tasks for the day and make sure that you only do one task at a time without any distractions. If you can be fully mindful on one task, you will save a lot of energy. Although we think we can multitask, Stanford University research suggests that most of us perform better doing one thing at a time.

Additional questions

What you make of the idea of “bare minimum Monday”: is it self-care or entitlement and why do you think some people see it as the former, while others are convinced it’s the latter?

The self-care camp are probably the people who have gone beyond peak capacity to peak overload. They have had to re-evaluate how they manage work and life and they know they can’t go beyond certain limits any more and they see it as setting clear boundaries. The fact that the initiator runs a productivity improvement business is no surprise!

As to entitlement, another trend that is coming through is ‘act your wage’ – in other words, only do the amount of work that you must do considering the wage you are earning. So, if you perceive your wage to be low, you work at a low rate. If you perceive it to be a better wage, you work at a better rate.

The bottom line is that these memes / messages are going viral and a LOT of people are seeing them and considering them as an option going forward. Every time I view social media, I see at least three or more side hustle ideas where I can basically ‘set up a system, do no work and earn money.’ This is creating a very strong mindset change even if the reality is that it doesn’t pay. I believe most people are interested in a bit of ‘easy money.’

Whether it’s a trend being driven purely by younger workers?

Younger workers are generally consuming more social media, so they are more likely to be seeing these messages. But to be honest, I am seeing more people of all ages re-evaluating their contribution to the workplace, particularly with the cost of living pressures, the rental housing shortages/mortgage rate rises and the overall feeling of uncertainty about the future.

How much of this can be chalked up to the way in which work changed through COVID?

I believe that COVID was the catalyst for change. Suddenly people had more hours in the day as they didn’t need to commute and the time spent chit chatting, in extended breaks or work-social environments significantly decreased. At the same time, people could manage their household activities throughout their workday and many tasks were converted to a technology based task. Meetings online. Calendars online. Conversations online. Project scheduling online. A screen is not as interactive as the 3D workplace, so many people found they could multitask and watch a movie or listen to podcasts or music at the same time.

I suspect a lot of people scrolled through social media on their phone during their breaks and once again, these viral trends starting getting traction as so many people could relate to these scenarios. Unfortunately, looking at screens all the time can create a sense of anxiety, especially a small phone screen as the field of vision is narrowed which genetically, puts us in an alert state and can affect our mental health. When we were hunter gatherers, most of the time we had a wide field of vision and only went close up at the time of maximum focus for a brief moment. In the historical past, most of our time was spent in psychological rest, not psychological focus.

Whether this is a case of younger workers feeling entitled or just a new reality that workplaces have to adjust to, given the fact it’s harder than ever to find workers?

Whilst it is very tempting to blame a sense of entitlement on this trend, the reality is that these messages are getting through to people and our society is changing very rapidly. If we look at a typical nuclear family of 100 years ago, there were usually two parents, one who worked and one who stayed home to look after the household and the children. Nowadays, everyone is expected to work full time to cover the cost of living (even if the standard of living expectations have changed) and there is very little free time available. It often takes a crisis for people to stop and re-evaluate what they are doing each day. Phones and screens are so ubiquitous and the average Australian is spending more than 5.5 hours a day on their device – this is a worrying trend. Gen Z is 7.3 hours a day

How this idea sits with the rhetoric from business leaders that Australian workers need to boost productivity or fast longer working weeks for less money?

It is a real wake up call for employers. The smart ones will realise that the workplace needs to be reinvented. There needs to be scheduled time away from devices. There needs to be clear boundaries for employers and employees (even employers need to take a break!). There needs to be flexibility around work and life and some of the options include working close to home, working four days a week, having a rostered day off every month, working on a hybrid basis where part of the week is at home etc.

However, business needs to survive and make a profit to keep going. So those who do not adjust will find it increasingly difficult to attract workers of any age. It could be that older workers are suddenly perceived as more loyal and committed, provided they can be upskilled and can complete the tasks. There is no quick fix, we are going through a massive societal shift and this is just the beginning. AI is going to increase the pace of change to record levels. I believe COVID increased our adoption of technology wherein we went through 10 years of adaptation to new technology in one year. So now is the time to have conversations, improve communication, work out what needs to be done to keep the business going and make it happen in an equitable and inclusive way.

Personally, I welcome the change as in the past, many employers exploited employees. But there is also a power shift now to employees and whilst the pendulum is swinging in that direction for now, it won’t stay there. As always, both employers and employees that adapt will survive and those that don’t adapt, won’t survive. We could be getting closer to the concept of a universal basic income quicker than we think. Ironically, that has shown that people’s employment and wellbeing increases!

Other articles on this topic

People dreading work take on ‘bare minimum Mondays’ approach

‘Bare Minimum Mondays’ is the latest TikTok trend after the Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and Rage Applying

Move Over ‘Quiet Quitting.’ How ‘Bare Minimum Mondays’ Became the Latest Big Trend to Know

The rise of ‘bare minimum Mondays’ – and what embracing the new job trend means for your career

Why Aussie marketing manager loves controversial ‘bare minimum Mondays’ trend – and says it’s the ‘best decision she’s made’ for the team

Employer taking this on!

Caitlin Winter from Neora Australia in Adelaide has implemented Bare Minimum Mondays at her workplace! Well done!!

Social media shares

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Channel 7 News social media shares on Facebook Google LinkedIn Profile LinkedIn Page Twitter

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