Fridays are a strange day at work – you’re excited for the weekend, but you first need to get through the next eight hours before you’re a free bird. But those eight hours are a complete drag, and you’re far from being productive, what with both you and your cubicle pal wishing the day away so that you can get out of work and go straight to happy hour. While the Friday feeling is infectious, it’s important to use the last day of the workweek wisely so that you don’t have to pick up the scraps first thing on Monday morning (as if the Monday blues weren’t bad enough, already!). Here are a few tips to keep you on track and ensure that you finish your Friday on a high!
1. Do the Hardest Task First
Various studies suggest that productivity levels are significantly reduced on Fridays, with one poll conducted by Budget concluding that UK workers are in weekend mode by 10:19am. Based on these findings, it might be a good idea to, therefore, complete your hardest tasks first thing in the morning.
Don’t waste time checking your emails or chatting with your work bestie – you can do that later in the day. Instead, block out all distractions and get the hardest and most important task for the day done first. You should also consider going into work earlier on a Friday if your energy usually dips early in the day.
2. Schedule Less Demanding Tasks for Friday Afternoon
The period after lunch is somewhat of a write-off on a Friday afternoon. Indeed, most workers are usually exhausted from all the hard work they put in during the week that they drain their batteries by Friday. But this doesn’t mean that you need to stare at the clock for the next four hours until you’re allowed to go home! Instead, use this time wisely and get those mind-numbing tasks out of the way. For example, you could archive all your paperwork, organise the desk cabinet and check the company website – anything that will be beneficial to your job but doesn’t require much brain power.
3. Make a List of Priorities for the Following Week
To help you get focused on a Friday afternoon when you feel fried, you should look at the week ahead and start making a list of priorities. Dr Claudia Luiz, Harvard-educated author of Where’s My Sanity?, says: ‘To get back your motivation, use Friday afternoons for big-picture planning’.
You can set realistic goals for the week ahead, brainstorm for your next big project and set yourself deadlines so you don’t waste time when you get to work on Monday morning. As a result, you will feel more relaxed knowing that you have everything in order for the following week.
4. Organise Your Desk in the Morning
After a busy week, your desk is bound to look like a bomb exploded. And how can anyone focus with a cluttered desk? Trying to find that important document becomes a mission in itself – let alone finishing the task at hand! To help you have a super productive morning, start by spending 5 to 10 minutes rearranging your desk. It eventually becomes a routine that you get used to doing on a Friday, and it also immensely benefits your mindset by making your brain feel decluttered, too.
5. Schedule Your Emails for Monday
Ever noticed how you never receive any replies on a Friday, especially after 2pm? That’s because most professionals have switched off already! They are already in ‘weekend mode’ and thinking about all their great plans for the weekend. In other words, that email you sent at 4pm on Friday is bound to wind up at the bottom of the recipient’s inbox come Monday morning. So, instead of sending urgent emails on Friday, write them and schedule them for Monday, instead.
6. Get Some Exercise (and Some Fresh Air)
Friday afternoons can be a drag if you spend your lunch hour in the office. To make the day go by even faster, why not arrange a weekly catch-up with one of your work friends? For example, you could go for a walk, get some fresh air and discuss the events of your week. The exercise will even get your juices flowing, and you will feel energised to power through the rest of the day, as a result.
If you have a work committee, meanwhile, why not suggest a team sports competition every Friday? After all, a little healthy competition in the workplace can boost team morale and release any built-up tension from the week.
7. Arrange Meetings for Fridays
Meetings can be disrupting to a busy workday and can be a huge distraction if you’re on a roll, which is why they are best left for a Friday when you don’t want to be chained to your desk. Getting up and walking around the office and discussing important topics with different people can do wonders for your productivity. It not only breaks up your workday but it also allows you to be social with others. You will also find that people are generally happier on a Friday afternoon, meaning that there will be fewer disruptions and more solutions thrown into the pit.
8. Schedule Some Downtime
If you can’t resist making your weekend plans during working hours, make sure you allow enough time in your schedule to do so. You can take some time out to research the best restaurants in your area or make a list of errands that you need to run on Saturday. Whatever you do, just make sure it doesn’t interfere with your work schedule! It’s important to schedule downtime for when you’re running on empty. If you’re not going to make any progress at work, switch off for 30 minutes and focus on personal goals and achievements. This will ensure that you’re on top of your work-life balance, which is beneficial to your overall job satisfaction.
9. Develop New Skills
Starting a new project at 4pm on a Friday afternoon is, quite simply, counterproductive. You won’t be focused enough to get any work done, and you will probably forget everything by the time Monday rolls around.
While you’re stuck in limbo waiting for 5pm to hit, why not invest your time wisely and develop a new skill? For example, you could watch educational videos on the latest trends in your industry or listen to some insightful podcasts. Just make sure that your workplace encourages the development of new skills during working hours!
10. Take Frequent Breaks
I know you’ve probably heard about the Pomodoro method 100 times before (and think that it’s a load of waffle), but – trust us – it really works. By splitting your day into short time slots, you’ll be more motivated to focus and get tasks done in the time that you’ve assigned to them. You’ll also look forward to your scheduled breaks and feel more productive. Be sure to use your breaks wisely – get up and walk away from your desk, stretch your legs, rest your eyes and refresh. These breaks will also make your never-ending Friday feel a lot more manageable.