The trend, which is taking off on social media, is called “Bare minimum Monday” and the name makes it pretty easy to decode — it’s all about starting your week by doing just enough to pass muster.
Popularized on TikTok by user Marisa Jo Mayes (@itsmarisajo), Bare Minimum Monday encourages workers to do as little work as possible on Monday, even focusing on self-care rituals for the first few hours of the day, in an effort to ease into the workweek and stave off anxious feelings about the week ahead.
“I don’t take meetings and take it slow for the first two hours. I’ll do some reading, some journaling, maybe some stuff around the house,” Mayes explained in an essay for Insider. “It’s two hours of no technology — no checking email — just doing whatever I need to do to feel good starting my day.”
In her essay, Mayes said she was experiencing the “Sunday scaries” — a popular term for dreading the week ahead — and wanted something to change.
Hence doing the bare minimum on Monday.
“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,” she continued in her essay.
Mayes writes that she’s received a lot of criticism for her Monday ritual, but experts say her approach has some merit.
“It’s a real thing,” said CNN’s chief business correspondent, Christine Romans. “There are a lot of young workers who are saying, ‘Look, the Sunday scaries turn into this unproductive, anxiety-ridden Monday … so they’re focusing on a little bit of self-care. They’re easing out of the weekend and into the week and saying they’re going to do the very bare minimum.”
Brooke Duffy, a professor of communication at Cornell University who studies the impact of new technology on labour, told ABC News that Bare Minimum Mondays mark a convergence of many workplace trends introduced during the pandemic, including working from home, the blurred boundaries between work and leisure, as well as a tight labour market.
“It’s a perfect storm of the type of expression and dissatisfaction we’re seeing put on these platforms in a very public way,” she told the outlet. “It isn’t just being posted, but it’s gaining traction.”
Others, however, argue that Bare Minimum Monday is just a catchy new phrase for something that’s been going on for ages.
“Who hasn’t had a hectic, heavy weekend and found themselves sitting at their desk on a Monday morning thinking, ‘I just need to survive the next eight hours’ and quietly accepting this is not going to be the most dynamic day of their career?” Evening Standard columnist Martha Alexander wrote about the trend.
Bare Minimum Mondays follows the “quiet quitting” and “Great Resignation” trends, which emerged as the COVID-19 virus wormed its way through society. Long-lasting lockdowns and the shift to working from home saw many employees burn out, overwork or quit their jobs.
A 2021 study commissioned by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health and conducted by Mental Health Research Canada found that more than one-third of Canadians felt burned out at their jobs, citing symptoms of exhaustion, negativity, cynicism and reduced efficiency at work.
The study also found that few Canadians reported feeling supported at work and only a third said that their company is committed to a low-stress workplace.
New research, published earlier this week, also found that a vast majority (91 per cent) of senior managers in Canada would support a four-day workweek for their team and that most anticipate their company will transition to a shorter working week within the next five years.
The survey, by recruitment firm Robert Half, also found that nearly 75 per cent of those polled said they would be willing to put in four 10-hour days in exchange for an extra day off. A majority also reported a preference for hybrid work models, where some time is spent working at home.
“When it comes to hybrid and remote, the day can be different. You can have windowed working, you can drop your kids off at school, you can pick them up, coach soccer on Tuesdays, coach the hockey team on Thursdays. And that’s become very, very important to parents,” Michael French, national director for Robert Half, told Global News.
While things have largely returned to normal, with many people back in the office, experts say that there’s still lots of work to be done when it comes to job satisfaction.
“Despite all the changes, despite more flexibility, more remote work, we’re not getting that work-life balance right,” Jill Cotton, a career trends expert at Glassdoor, told Fortune. “When we look at what it is that employees and workers really want at the moment, it’s autonomy.”
“A lot of great employees will be productive when their companies set them up for success,” Cotton continued. “I think that it’s less about the Bare Minimum Mondays having an impact on productivity and more about employees and employers working together to create the most productive workplace possible.”
Mayes acknowledges that Bare Minimum Monday isn’t realistic for everyone — some jobs require almost constant high performance, have strict deadlines or require people to interact with their colleagues or the public — but argues that finding even the smallest ways to start the week off a bit slowly has its benefits.
“I get more done when easing the pressure,” she writes. “It’s really a way to start the week prioritizing yourself as a person over yourself as an employee. It’s radically changed my life, not because of the productivity, but because of that self-compassion.”