How do you start your Mondays? Sorting (or slogging) through emails? Lingering over a cup of coffee? Reminiscing about the weekend? Rushing off to a meeting?

Well, next Monday, try taking on your week the way Steve Middleton, our Senior Business Engagement Manager, does.

“At the beginning of every week, I sit down and plan the week out, to make sure I’m set up for success. So, I look at ‘what are my absolute must-get-dones’ for this week, and I write them down.

And they’re the first actions I take.

Then everything else just slots into place.”

Steve shared how he sets himself up for success in a recent LinkedIn video that our whole office loved. But what it really comes down to is this: Rocks, pebbles and sand.

Rocks, pebbles and sand is a time management analogy where you put rocks, then pebbles, then sand in a jar. Rocks represent the most important ‘must-do’ tasks, pebbles are moderately important tasks, and sand is the filler (like answering emails). Many of us tend to manage our time the other way around. We answer all of our emails, take all the calls, and deal with not-really-urgent minutiae, which leaves very little time for the most important tasks – the ones that will actually move us towards reaching our big goals.

Steve uses Monday morning to make sure “that the really important stuff, the stuff that helps you succeed in your role and as an individual” gets done.

See, rocks aren’t just work projects. Rocks are the steps you take towards your big, professional and personal, goals.

Try it this Monday. Set yourself up for significant success – not just crossing tasks off of your to-do list – by prioritizing what’s really important and doing those things first.

But setting yourself up for success isn’t just about ‘rocking’ your work week – it’s also about attitude

Steve says a huge part of his enthusiasm for life is consciously choosing his attitude.

“All of us have the same number of hours in a week, yet some of us are able to achieve great things and fly people to the moon, yet others are unable to get the very basic tasks done and they’re constantly saying that they’re running out of time.

We’ve just had a bank holiday weekend, and I’ve spent this amazing time with my friends and my family over the past three days, but on Tuesday morning, I was in the office early and I sat down with my colleague Jayne, and we went through my weekly planner. And before 9 o’clock came around, I knew exactly what goals I’d set myself for the week, and what I was going to do to make sure I’d achieve them or exceed them. I chose my attitude.”

Choosing your attitude is one of the things we talk about a lot in the Engagement Multiplier Chicago office. One of our office book club reads, Fish!, recommends making notes on your attitude to become more aware of how it affects you – and what you do to affect it. Inspired by Fish!, this is an excellent exercise to add to the rocks, pebbles, sand one for Monday mornings as you go through your week’s schedule.

  • Write your attitude down as it is right now
  • Check your attitude throughout each day, over the course of the week
  • Plan ahead for situations that will test your attitude – how will you respond?
  • Feeling down? Make a quick list of what you feel grateful for
  • Look for the best in all situations (you’ll find it everywhere)

Click here for 10 daily things successful people do.


“There’s always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself… We can choose the attitude we bring to our work.”

Fish!: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen and Ken Blanchard


Want to watch Steve Middleton’s energy in action? Check out the video below that he made talking about his approach starting his work week primed for success. We love Steve!