What Is Bare Minimum Monday?

The viral workplace trend aims to alleviate anxiety about the upcoming work week.

Written by Jeff Rumage
Published on Aug. 22, 2023
What Is Bare Minimum Monday?
Image: Shutterstock / Built In

Bare minimum Monday is a term that refers to employees doing the lowest required amount of job responsibilities on the first day of the work week. The concept, which started as a viral TikTok trend, says that by reducing the pressure to perform on Monday, employees can alleviate anxiety about the upcoming work week and make Mondays feel less daunting.

Bare Minimum Monday Definition

Bare minimum Monday is a trend that encourages workers to do the minimum required work on Monday. By lowering their expectations, workers can feel less anxious on Sunday evenings and less overwhelmed on Monday mornings.

Transitioning from a relaxing weekend to a busy work week can stir up a type of anxiety known as the “Sunday scaries.” A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. workers shows that 75 percent of workers experience Sunday anxiety about the upcoming work week, signaling a demand for tools that can redirect that worry and stress into a more productive practice. That’s where bare minimum Mondays come in.

It replaces the debilitating pressure some workers feel with permission to work at your own pace. Anything above the bare minimum is considered icing on the cake.


Where Did Bare Minimum Mondays Come From? 

Bare minimum Monday is the latest workplace trend to arrive in the wake of a pandemic that caused many workers to reevaluate the role of work in their lives. Similar to quiet quitting, bare minimum Monday encourages employees to make time for their own self care in a corporate world focused on productivity and the bottom line. 

TikTok creator Marisa Jo Mayes came up with bare minimum Mondays because she was tired of feeling stressed out on Sundays and feeling behind schedule as soon as she woke up on Monday mornings. Whenever she failed to accomplish everything on her lengthy to-do list, she felt guilty and unproductive for not meeting her goals. 

“The reason I began this in the first place is because I was putting so much pressure on myself that it was hard for me to do anything,” Mayes said in one video.

By lowering her expectations on Mondays, she said she has actually become more productive.

“It just occurred to me that this is the reason I always get so much more done on Mondays, because I don’t wake up feeling like I’m in a deficit,” she said in another video.

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Characteristics of Bare Minimum Monday

Typically, workers who participate in bare minimum Monday focus primarily on the minimum requirements of their job. Another version of the practice encourages employees to instead focus on the more creative aspects of their job.

Mayes provided her personal approach to bare minimum Mondays in an interview with Insider, saying she does not look at her phone or email for the first two hours of her Monday. Instead, she spends that time reading, journaling or catching up on chores around the house. 

Mayes, who co-founded productivity consulting firm SpaceTime Monotasking, only works about three hours on Mondays. She spends the first hour focused on the more creative aspects of her job. After breaking for lunch, she spends two hours focused on work. She told CNBC that she limits those tasks to those she considers urgent or important.

Mayes decides on Sunday night which tasks she considers to be the bare minimum, and then she only holds herself accountable for finishing those tasks on Monday. Once those tasks are done, she allows herself to do whatever she wants, which could include creative projects, self care or, if she’s so inspired, more work.

When one of her followers pointed out the difficulty of keeping such a relaxed schedule in a conventional 9-to-5 job, Mayes explained the concept of bare minimum Monday is less about following her specific schedule and more about shifting your mindset to focus only on the most important tasks for the day.

“What are you overly stressed about that you just don’t need to be stressed about?” she asked in one video. “What can you choose to not care about today, knowing that it actually won’t make a difference?”


Pros of Bare Minimum Monday

While some associate “the bare minimum” with lazy or entitled employees, others see it as yet another call for more flexible workplaces that allow for greater work-life balance.

1. Creates Time for More Focused Work

Ivori Johnson, the head of people, talent and DEIB at ChartHop, said she likes the concept of easing into Mondays with some heads-down time to focus on important projects.

“It gives employees space to complete tasks, complete presentations and think about strategy without the added pressure of having packed meeting schedules,” Johnson said.

Zachary Ginder, a psychological consultant for employees and organizations at Pine Siskin Consulting, said it’s not uncommon for people to block out Monday mornings on their calendar, giving themselves some time to reacclimate to their work. 

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong necessarily with setting yourself up to ease into the week where you have time to focus on the biggest priorities and not deal with the minutia,” Ginder said. 

Monday morning can sometimes feel busy with emails and meetings, so creative juices might not always be flowing at that time. If you’re in a creative job, and your schedule allows for it, you might find it more productive to shift your working hours later in the day, when you are feeling more creative. 

“If you really need to be in the right frame of mind and Monday morning isn’t that time for you, it’s best for the company and for you that you’re … structuring your work so it fits in at those times,” said Amy Casciotti, vice president of human resources at TechSmith.


2. Improves Employee Morale

One of the biggest complaints that organizations hear from employees is about the amount of time taken up by meetings, and how those meetings can prevent employees from accomplishing their job responsibilities. By blocking out meetings on Monday morning, employees will be freed up to do the work that interests them.

“I think if you’re able to carve out time for your employees to be able to just get some of the work done, you’ll see morale go up,” Johnson said.


3. Reduces Burnout

Giving employees more flexibility in their working hours improves work-life balance and reduces the risk of burnout. A yearlong study of IT workers at a Fortune 500 company found that employees with job flexibility — like the ability to take it easy on Mondays — experienced less burnout and more job satisfaction than their colleagues.

“I think after COVID folks realized work-life balance — having time for myself and being able to spend time with my family — is so important, and they want to work for an organization that gives them that flexibility,” Johnson said. “I think that's key for a lot of employees. The workforce wants more flexibility.”

Most professionals can probably relate to Mayes’ anecdote about feeling overwhelmed or behind schedule on Monday mornings. If the stress you feel on Sunday evenings or Monday morning is causing significant disruption, though, Casciotti said it’s worth considering the cause of that stress. Is it your manager? Your workload? The workplace itself? In some cases, your anxiety might be overestimating how difficult the transition to the work week will be.

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Cons of Bare Minimum Monday

While easing into the work week sounds great in theory, the fact is that most organizations and supervisors probably would not allow their employees to routinely work only three or four hours every Monday. If you’re thinking of approaching bare minimum Monday (in any of its iterations), you will need to understand whether that is acceptable in your company culture.

1. Hurts Productivity

While the TikToker Mayes claims she is more productive by expecting the bare minimum from herself, others may not achieve the same results with a drastic reduction in hours. 

Caitlin Collins, an organizational psychologist with Betterworks, said workers would be better served by writing down a Monday to-do list, getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday night and taking breaks during the day on Monday to reduce stress levels.

“If you want to avoid being classified as a low performer within your job role,” Collins said,  “having other tools in place to be successful on Mondays are probably better.”

Bare minimum Mondays are a particularly tough sell when many companies already offer flex Fridays, half-day Fridays or even four-day work weeks. If employees were to start adopting bare minimum Mondays, that would only leave three solid work days in the week, which would further hamper their productivity (and their performance reviews).


2. Makes It Harder to Meet Business Demands

Some occupations might have room for relaxed Mondays, but most employees will find it hard to meet organizational demands within such a tight timeframe. IT professionals, for example, still have to respond to tech support tickets, and sales professionals who aren’t continually attracting new clients would probably have trouble meeting their sales quota.

If you’re working in a customer-facing role, clients will probably expect customer support during Mondays and be less likely to partner with an organization that isn’t available on Mondays.

Bare minimum Mondays could also be a major inconvenience in a team setting, Casciotti said. If a project is sidelined because it needs your input or approval, you probably won’t be very popular among your coworkers.

3. Creates Anxiety About Growing Backlog

If you kick the can down the road on multiple tasks, those tasks will only pile up. Some people might be able to block out time later in the week to make up for lost time, but Ginder said other people can let that work accumulate like a snowball, becoming more overwhelming and mentally taxing over time. If you find yourself continually pushing off work, Ginder said it may be time to look at the underlying causes of that avoidance — and think about switching jobs.


Frequently Asked Questions

Bare minimum Monday encourages workers to do the minimum requirements of their job on Mondays. The practice aims to mitigate the Sunday scaries, which refers to the anxiety some workers feel on Sunday nights as they think about the upcoming work week.

Bare minimum Monday was created by TikTok creator Marisa Jo Mayes, who also co-founded productivity consulting firm SpaceTime Monotasking.

Bare minimum Monday isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but many workers will find it difficult to meet the demands of their team and their organization with reduced working hours. Some workers have found it helpful, though, to shift their mindset and not put so much pressure on themselves on Monday mornings.

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