In How to Win at College, I emphasized a simple, but surprisingly effective piece of advice: Create a Sunday Ritual. I learned this trick from the superstars I interviewed for the book, and quickly put it into regular practice in my own life. Now, I couldn’t imagine getting through the week without it…
The Perfect Sunday Ritual
Here’s the idea: Friday and Saturday are a time to be social. Sunday morning and afternoon is a time for you to regroup, get organized, and get prepared for the upcoming week. To accomplish this, you need a Sunday ritual.
A good Sunday ritual consists of the following:
- Immediately after waking up, go grab a big breakfast (realistically, considering that last night you were out partying, this is more likely to be a brunch). Do this on your own, with strong coffee, and a copy of the Sunday Times (or, anything else that is both mentally stimulating and completely unconnected to any schoolwork). Take your time. Spend an hour.
- Swing by the nearest library. Spend 20-30 minutes to review your calendar and to-do lists. Get a feel for what work you need to get done this week. What deadlines are looming? What personal projects have fallen fallow? If you follow the GTDCS method (or something similar), this is the time to assign specific work to the specific days of the week. Make sure you also set aside around three hours of work to get done today. Preferably select something intellectual but also non-intimidating, such as catching up on reading assignments.
- Clear your head. This might involve going for a quiet walk. Or, hangover permitting, hitting the gym. Conclude with a snack that will boost energy.
- Settle into the most deserted possible library on campus. (At this point, it will be in the early to mid-afternoon) Taking quick breaks every 50 minutes, efficiently plow through your three hours of work for the day.
- Conclude by sketching your Monday schedule. It’s important for your stress levels that you feel like you have a detailed plan for the next day. Now, clear all work thoughts from your brain. Have dinner with your friends. Spend the evening doing whatever it is that you like doing. You’re ready for the new week.
The Power of the Sunday Ritual
A consistent Sunday ritual does wonders for the week to follow. It’s a crucial buffer between the debauchery of the weekend and the grind of the work week.
Something about spending some alone time, making a schedule, and getting some significant work done (but not too much), really helps you calm down and gets your mind and body to a place where they can handle a new, intense week. I swear by my Sunday ritual. If you want a simple change that will eliminate a significant amount of stress in your student life, I recommend you do too.