If you tend to ease yourself into the workweek by doing all the menial, less-taxing parts of your job on a Monday, you're not alone. In fact, this practice has become so commonplace that TikTok has gone and christened it "Bare Minimum Mondays". Touted as an antidote to the "Sunday Scaries", the trend has already clocked a staggering 601.3 million views.
Starting the week by only doing what is absolutely necessary seems like a good idea on the surface. But are Bare Minimum Mondays really the best way to reduce your workload and get through the working week in one piece?
With many jobs, there will always be a degree of menial administrative tasks that need to be done. But while scheduling all these tasks on one day (in this case, a Monday) might feel nice at the time, what does it actually mean for the rest of the workweek? When all you're left with are high-pressure tasks, it's got to make you wonder whether it will really make us feel better or more productive. I'd assume that, for most people, sprinkling your more mindless tasks throughout the week to break up the intensity of bigger jobs is a more logical and balanced way to go.
It's possible that Bare Minimum Mondays aren't so much an ideal practice as they are a cry for help. The underlying message is that young people everywhere are sick of the capitalist grind and trying to fit into hustle culture — they're burnt out, and they're over it. One of the best long-term solutions to burnout, of course, lies in the elusive four-day workweek. Studies have proven that this structure would be beneficial to both people and businesses, and the concept has slowly but surely gained momentum. But while this initiative is still yet to be officially put in place, younger generations are trying desperately to get one step ahead of burnout with Bare Minimum Mondays.
Post lockdowns, flexibility and work/life balance have become maybe the one thing we really want to carry over from the last few years into our work structures. And for young people who have joined the workforce over the last few years, flexible working is all they've ever known.
Some might think we've had it easy and that we've become entitled. But hear me out: by prioritising a "work less, play more" philosophy, we can have a similar effect to the four-day workweek. When we ease up on production, we actually raise productivity.
Of course, there's plenty to be said for time management and appropriate task distribution, and frankly, Bare Minimum Mondays aren't the best example of that. In fact, if employers start to think we're all slacking off on Mondays and abusing our privileges, it could actually put all the hard-won flexible working arrangements we've acquired in jeopardy.
We also have to recognise that it's a privilege to be able to cruise through a day at your job at all, and there are plenty of jobs that take place outside a traditional office, where this simply isn't viable. But just because hustle culture is problematic, doesn't mean that doing the exact opposite is going to help. And for many people whose rewards at work are a direct reflection of their production levels, it's just not possible.
But some of the TikTokers who actually made the Bare Minimum Monday trend take off (like @itsmarisajo) seem to tackle it less literally, aiming to work on Mondays efficiently yet mindfully to reduce unnecessary stress. It's less about slacking off and more about being realistic about what you're capable of doing at the start of the week. This is much more of a mental approach than anything else (usually to do with relieving stress that you're putting on yourself, as opposed to actual expectations of work) and in this iteration, it's pretty harmless.
What we can gather from the popularity of the trend is that we need an answer to burnout — it just needs to be something that's regulated and made available to all workers. Whether that's introducing a shorter work week or finding some other way to put up boundaries for our work/life balance, it's certainly clear that Bare Minimum Mondays is signalling that it's time for a change.