Is it time for you to up your game on Friday?
Fridays have a way of becoming the least productive day of the week. So I decided to take a look into why Fridays are so unproductive, why they shouldn’t be, and what you can do to make your Friday as productive as Monday.
Why Are Fridays So Damn Unproductive?
One reason Fridays are less productive than earlier days of the week, is because we naturally have higher levels of focus and energy at the start of activities.
“Each of us has a finite reservoir of energy in any given day.”
- Tony Schwartz, “The Power of Full Engagement”
Mental energy, just like physical, depletes through use. A peak followed by a steady decline of energy holds true for projects, chores, work days, and even work weeks.
A second reason why Fridays tend to be unproductive is the cultural mindset that Fridays are the day to slack off.
This one-two combo of drained mentally energy and low cultural expectations for the day, can hinder our capacity to be productive and makes it is easy to slip into the “it can wait until next week” mentality.
Why Should Fridays Be More Productive?
While your stamina may be running low and other people in your office are slacking off or ducking out early, there are a number of reasons why Fridays could be one of your most productive days:
There Are Fewer Emails
You don’t have an overstuffed inbox full of the emails you’ve collected over the weekend. Fewer emails means fewer things to process during the day and should be seen as an advantage.
There Are Fewer Meetings
Mondays are when many managers want to set the tone for the week with an ‘all hands on deck meeting’. Unlike Monday, Friday generally isn’t regarded as a day for long, fixed meetings. Fewer meetings is another time and energy saver, time and energy that can be used to move your projects forward.
There Are Fewer Interruptions
Since co-workers may be leaving early for travel (or happy hour), there are fewer people in the office to approach you with ‘gotta minute?’ questions. Fewer interruptions can give a huge boost to your productivity because every time you get interrupted it takes your brain 10 to 15 minutes to get back on track.
5 Ways To Make Your Friday As Productive As Monday
1. Change Your Energy
An important concept you can learn more about in Tony Schwartz’s book, The Power of Full Engagement, is the concept of energy management. The first step to energy management is taking care of the thing the converts food, water, and rest into energy… your body.
“If you were told that you could only have one car for the rest of your life, you would take immaculate care of it. You would polish, protect and maintain it as best you could. Our body serves the same purpose, so treat it the same way.” – Warren Buffett
While diet, exercise, and proper rest might not seem like a work related task, the health of your body is inextricably linked to how much you are able to produce.
2. Change Your Actions
To get the most out of the time you invest at work, focus your actions around serving your key result areas. These are different for every job.
- Sales people must prospect, gain rapport, and help solve their customer’s problems to sell products or services.
- Coaches must build the individual and team skill level of their athletes to win games.
Chances are, you already know the key result areas of your job. If unsure, look toward people who are successful in your profession and find out where they focus their energy. You can do this by directly asking your peers, reading books, or going to seminars.
Once you are clear on the results you are responsible for producing, plan out your week by deciding each day’s key objective. One is best, but don’t go over three.
“Living your life without a plan is like watching television with someone else holding the remote control.” – Peter Turla
Hyper-focusing on completing 1 to 3 tasks a day will allow you to get much more quality work done, when compared to trying to multitask projects as they come your way. This will help your Friday be as productive as Monday because you have already decided what you are going to accomplish. Knowing your objective(s) before you start the day gives you one less decision to make at the end of the week, when you are already mentally fatigued.
3. Change Your Script
As mentioned previously, many office cultures write off Friday as a day to slack off. Resist the short term benefit of taking it easy on Friday by changing your script. The ‘working for the weekend’ mentality will only leave you staring at the clock waiting for the end of the day to come. How is this any different than when you were waiting for the bell to release you from high school?
“If you love life, don’t waste time; because that is what it is made of. ”
- Bruce Lee
Shift your focus from the adolescent… “my boss won’t let us leave until 5:30pm” to the proactive “I want to get X done before this weekend.” Make it a game and challenge yourself. Pretend that you are about to go on a month long vacation and have to get X done or you can’t go.
4. Change Your Plans
It is the end of the week, you have no energy or enthusiasm, your mental reservoir has gone dry. Energy management, planning your actions, and changing your mental script haven’t worked.
You can only do what you can do. There is no use fighting nature. It is now time to change your plans to accommodate your low energy Fridays in a more productive way.
“To be more productive over the long-term, you need to spend some time setting up your system in the short-term.” – David Allen
You can do this by saving important or necessary low energy tasks for Friday.
Rather than mentally checking out early Friday afternoon batch any or all of the following activities.
- Organizing Your Workspace
- Planning the Next Week
- Reviewing Your Tasks
- Paying Bills
- Clearing Your Email
- Tying Down Loose Ends
By moving these low energy tasks to a single day, you make your other days more productive and create a Friday that stands out from the rest of the week. Changing up your routine can make your Fridays more interesting and fun than other days of the week.
The most productive low energy tasks on the list are, reviewing all open tasks and planning for the coming week. David Allen’s, “Getting Things Done Methodology” suggest taking two hours every Friday to do a ‘weekly review’.
5. Focus On End Results
Somewhere between the Henry Ford’s, “9-5 schedule” and Tim Ferris’s, “Four Hour Work Week” is probably the optimal amount of time for you to be working at your peak productive state.
“Extreme work hours actually lower productivity, rather than raising it.”
- Chris Simms, “The Elements of Scrum”
After a certain point, the quality and quantity of your work dips past the point where spending more time on a task does anything but wear you down.
Because of this, a system called results-only work environment, or ROWE, was created to give everyone in the company the freedom to do their job when and where they want …as long as the work gets done.
This might not fly in every organization, but if you are a high producer, you might be able to negotiate working from home or leaving early on Fridays when your work is complete.
“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”
— Dalai Lama
Is it time to up your game on Friday? How much more could you get done if you had one more productive day a week?
For you, this might mean:
- Changing Your Energy Levels By Maintaining Your Body
- Changing Your Actions With Advanced Planning
- Decide your 1-3 most important tasks ahead of time
- Changing The Way You Perceive The Last Day of The Week
- See each day as an opportunity to do something great, not something to get through
- Taking Care of Important Low Energy Level Work
- Phone Calls
- Planning and organizing
- Focusing On Your End Results
It isn’t hard. It won’t cost you anything. It’s only a choice.
Agree, disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.
And if you found this information helpful, share it with your slacker friends who are likely already on social media. #TGIF.