Starting with what fuels you
How Healthy Rich Mondays transformed my work week
First time reading? Sign up to learn with me about business, productivity, leadership, marketing and life as I transition from freelance writer to full-time founder.
Around the beginning of this year, I couldn’t believe how I was feeling about work.
I’d been working for myself full time for two years, achieving the incredible dream I had 10 years ago of making a living as a freelance writer. The job I’d created for myself was beyond what I’d imagined — I’d earned six figures last year, become a certified expert in my niche, was subcontracting work to other writers and had offers for work coming in a couple of times a month.
I was becoming miserable.
It was sneaky, though. I wasn’t miserable while I worked, and I wasn’t fed up with my clients. I just got very quietly, heavily sad on Sunday evenings and found myself wanting to stay up late — because once I went to bed, Monday morning would come.
I was experiencing Sunday Scaries
Sunday Scaries is a popular term for the dread and anxiety many people experience in anticipation of the coming week of school or work.
The phenomenon makes sense: You’re transitioning from the freedom of the weekend into the high stress of a week filled with people who expect you to work and be on time to things. Resistance seems natural.
But I work for myself! I choose my assignments. I schedule my tasks. What did Mondays in my own company hold that I was dreading so much?
It turns out, I’d built a giant barrier to doing the work I cared about.
Deciding to put my heart’s work first
I’ve written before about choosing which work to do first when you work for yourself. No matter what kind of work you do, there are always some tasks that fuel you and some that drain you.
Freelance writing — tasks I’d worked hard to earn and work that had fueled my creativity and curiosity for years — had become work that drains me. Mostly because it kept me from doing the work I spend every waking moment thinking about: building Healthy Rich.
I was only devoting three days each week to freelancing, but I was putting it first. Monday through Wednesday, I did client work. Thursday and Friday, I rewarded myself with Healthy Rich.
As I approached each Monday, that structure meant my freelance work was a 72-hour barrier I had to overcome to get to work on Healthy Rich. No wonder I dreaded the week. Sunday nights were the furthest I could get from working on the business I’m soul-stitched to building.
A couple of months ago, I experimented with my first Healthy Rich Monday. It was a game changer.
I still do client work three days a week, but I’ve nudged it back to Tuesday through Thursday. My weeks now start with Healthy Rich — and I wake up each Monday morning eager to get to work.
Organizing for creative fuel
A wonderful side effect to starting my week with Healthy Rich is I’ve stopped dreading freelance work, too.
I get to warm up the work week by producing work I love, which gets my creativity flowing and reminds me I enjoy working and I’m good at what I do. By Tuesday, I’m ready to knock out client work. Plus, I’ve done what’s most important to me, so I’m not distracted by the work I want to get to later in the week.
Putting Healthy Rich first also means the business gets me when I’m at 100%, instead of later in the week when my energy is depleted by each day of work. I can do great work for clients with Thursday energy — I don’t want to build a business at that frequency.
How can you prioritize what fuels you?
I worked for several years to free up entire days in my week to devote to building this business. I know not everyone has that space in the calendar. But maybe you can look for ways to shift your priorities and give your best self to the projects that matter most to you?
My friend Jessica Lawlor was a huge inspiration years ago when she started waking up at 5 a.m. to put her blogging and freelance writing ahead of her full-time job. (And, it worked! She quit her job in 2016 and went full time on Jessica Lawlor & Company, the content management agency she still runs today.)
Author Jenny Blake applies this principle through her Made by Monday strategy, where she batches the high-impact content creation work for her business every Monday to make sure it gets done no matter what comes up the rest of the week.
How might you get creative to put your biggest, most important work first — each day, week or month — to build momentum instead of burning out?