Every weekend, it happens: The clock hits 3 p.m. on Sunday and the world gives a collective groan, both mourning the end of a weekend and dreading the workweek ahead. The so-called Sunday night blues aren’t just pervasive—they’re powerful. A recent Monster.com survey found that 80 percent of Americans report having the Sunday night blues, 76 percent of whom report them as being “really bad.” But it is possible to shake the funk.
“Start by reminding yourself how much time you have left,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time. She studied 1001 days of hour-by-hour time logs from women earning at least $100,000 a year and analyzed how they spend the 168 hours that make up each week. One finding: They don’t go limp on Sundays.
“When 3 p.m. rolls around, you still have 15 hours before you need to wake up Monday morning and face the workweek, and 7 hours left before bedtime,” says Vanderkam. “So, why not decide to seize that time?”
Scheduling or planning something ahead of time radically increases your odds of following through with an activity (and not losing those hours to a stupor of TV and nap time). Vanderkam started hosting low-key get-togethers on Sunday afternoons, and found that most of her friends were available and also relished the distraction from their Monday dread. But if you’re not feeling social, make it a manicure or a long run—anything you enjoy that restores you.
What if you typically default to laundry and grocery shopping on Sundays? Well, you’re probably dreading Sunday afternoons even more. Try spreading your chores into the workweek rather than banking on a Sunday marathon of scrubbing and sorting, suggests Vanderkam. A grocery run on Tuesday night, when the store is empty, will take less time and free up part of your precious weekend. And that’s something to smile about.