AnnaMarie Houlis
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Cyber Monday refers to the Monday following Thanksgiving when online retailers boast bargains you've been waiting for all year long. It's also the much more sufferable version of Black Friday, when brick-and-mortar stores see lines out the door for sales that you likely won't find anytime else. With the holidays like Christmas and Hannukah around the corner, these sales are especially enticing.

But how exactly do you manage to make the most of Cyber Monday when it's, well, a Monday? You've just returned to work after what was perhaps a long weekend off for Thanksgiving, your inbox is flooded in emails and you've got days worth of work piled up on your desk to catch up on. There's no time for online shopping, which you really shouldn't be doing anyway.

You could make time, however. If your company is cool with it — or if you have a break during the day — here's how to reap the benefits of holiday gift shopping (and, let's be real, shopping for yourself, too) on Cyber Monday.

Note: Sales are great for saving money... until you shop all of the sales, that is. We will not be held responsible for the damage done to your credit card.

Why Shop on Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is the biggest U.S. online shopping day of the year, and retailers take full advantage of it, offering prices you won't see throughout the rest of the year.

The shopping day dates back to the early 2000s, when online discount-hunters would return to work after a weekend of shopping and snag deals with their employers’ internet connections. By 2005, National Retail Federation Senior Vice-President Ellen Davis and former Shop.org Executive Director Scott Silverman coined a term for the trend, and retailers eventually adopted it.

In 2016, online sales on Cyber Monday totaled $3.39 billion nationally, far surpassing Black Friday U.S. online sales by about $50 million, according to Adobe Digital Insights. In 2017, Cyber Monday sales made history. Online transactions on Cyber Monday reached a record $6.59 billion in 2017, which marks a 16.8 percent increase from the year prior and sets the record for the most transactions in Cyber Monday history.

The Pros & Cons to Shopping at Work

There are certainly pros and cons to online shopping in your workplace. Let's break them down.

The Pros:

  • You'll save money on holiday shopping with Cyber Monday sales.
  • You won't have to hit the store after work, because you got all your shopping done online while at work.
  • You don't have to break a sweat navigating the holiday crowds, because all your shopping will be done from the comfort of your own... desk.

The Cons:

  • Your company might be tracking what websites you use, and it's more than likely frowned upon to be online shopping at work.
  • You may find that you're cutting into your work hours, when you really have a lot to get done. This means you may end up staying later at work or making more of a mountain for yourself to return to the next day.
  • You won't be able to try anything on or go see anything in person if you're shopping online from your office, as opposed to if you were shopping in stores.

Best Times to Shop at Work

The best time to shop at work is, of course, when you have some downtime.

If you have a long lunch break, or even just 30 minutes, make the most of it by bringing your lunch that day and eating it at your desk while you shop away.

If you're allowed a break for another reason throughout the day, utilize that time to shop, too.

Otherwise, you can plan to get to work an hour or so earlier that day or stay a little later. No one will judge you for getting to work early or sticking around late — and many companies won't care to know what you're up to until you're on the company's clock (so long as you're not using your work computer for anything inappropriate or that could spam the computer).

Still, the sales will be going all day long — and they're sure to tease you throughout the day. So here are seven tips for making the most of Cyber Monday sales while at work, while still fulfilling your duties as a responsible, functioning professional who's definitely not at all a shopping addict.

7 Ways to Stay on Top of Cyber Monday Deals While at Work

1. Check Last Year's Sales for Guidance

Google your favorite brands and check out their sales from last year so you can get an idea of what they'll probably be putting on sale again this year. While the products won't be the same, the types of products probably will be similar. This cuts down on some of the shopping research you'd otherwise be doing, so when you get to your computer, you can quickly hop over to the sites you know will be selling clothing, electronics, cookery and more at discounted prices.

2. Bookmark Your Favorite Retailers' Websites

Don't spend time searching for all your favorite retailers or ransacking your brain for the ones you forgot. Instead, bookmark them all ahead of time so you can keep tabs (pun intended) on them during Cyber Monday.

3. Follow Your Favorite Retailers' Social Media Accounts

The quickest way to find out about online sales besides actively stalking all of your favorite retailers' websites and constantly refreshing the pages is to follow their social media accounts. On social media like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook you'll find up-to-the-minute alerts about new sales and items that are selling out fast.

4. Make Your Holiday Gift List Ahead of Time

Instead of going into Cyber Monday cold turkey, know what you're looking for. This will save you time and money, as you won't be mindlessly purchasing products all day. Know what you're going in for, find them, buy them, move onto the more important things you have to do that day.

5. Subscribe to Retailers' Newsletters

On top of following your favorite retailers on social media, sign up for their newsletters. Chances are that you'll already have your email up all day anyway. Keep an eye on any newsletters touting special sales and launch times, and act accordingly.

6. Know the Shipping and Return Policies of Your Favorite Retailers

Knowing the shipping and return policies of the retailers you're likely to shop on Cyber Monday will save you a lot of back and forth. You won't be sitting there debating if your purchase is the smartest move because you'll already know that you've got 20 days to return or exchange it. You also won't spend all your time filling up your shopping cart only to be hit with a massive shipping cost and nix the whole thing.

7. Create a Handy Spreadsheet

If you're more of a spreadsheet person, use this to your advantage. Create yourself a handy spreadsheet with brand names, holiday gifts or other products you'd like to purchase (and hope will go on sale), and links to those items that *note* you've already shopped ahead of time. When Cyber Monday kicks off, whip out the spreadsheet and start crunching numbers links. 

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.