Schedule Your Day with Tasks

Sometimes the to-do list seems less urgent on a Friday. (‘It can wait until next week.’) While that may be true, do you really want to start your Mondays already behind? To combat this mindset, schedule a meeting with your work. First, write down everything that needs to be done, in order of importance. This frees up your mind from being cluttered, confused, or disorganized (especially important on a Friday). If anything on that list takes longer than a few hours, break it down into mini-tasks that can get done within a shorter time frame. This keeps work from appearing overwhelming. Next, put a circle or empty check box next to the top three things to get done, along with a time frame or deadline. This focuses your attention on to one thing at a time, which is the key to personal productivity.

Schedule Breaks

If the office is much quieter on a Friday than on a Monday, you may not get interrupted at all. While that sounds great, it also means the day can feel long, you might be more prone to procrastinating, or you find it difficult to concentrate and focus after a few hours of intense independent work. To combat that, schedule breaks. I wouldn’t set an alarm, but if you find yourself looking at the clock, give yourself structured work time and structured play time in an interval format to get you through the day. In the end, it will be more productive than attempting to exert your willpower 100% evenly. For example:

  • 90 minute work effort followed by a 20 minute break [word processing]
  • 60 minute work effort followed by a 15 minute break [PowerPoints]
  • 20 minute work effort followed by a 5 minute break [spreadsheets]

Change Your Script

If instead of distracting yourself away from negativity, you refocused with positive thoughts about your workweek, how much more productive could you be?

What if instead of thinking or saying:

  • “I need a weekend to recover from my weekend,” on Monday
  • “Hump day/halfway there” on Wednesday
  • “I can’t wait to get out of here and start my weekend,” on Friday…

We approached the days with:

  • “Let’s get this week off to a good start,” on Monday
  • “Look at what I accomplished this week already and here’s what I will get done today,” on Wednesday
  • “Here are the three things I absolutely want to accomplish before I start my weekend,” on Friday.

Compress Your Workweek

Finally, if all else fails, use a workaround. Pretend Friday doesn’t exist. Start each week thinking you only have Monday-Thursday to get everything done and then act on that. This will improve your productivity throughout the whole week, and then Friday can be catch-up day, a strategic work day, a day to schedule your meetings, or a day to take it easy (without guilt). Along those lines, you can rearrange your week in a way that leaves easy or mindless things to be done on Friday (though easy and mindless differs for everyone, examples might be filing, documenting, planning, or updating).

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