Do you ever wake up on a Friday confused because you think it’s the weekend already, but then realize that you still have one more day left before the weekend? You’re not alone.
In order to help the time go by more quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment, rather than panic, at the end of the day, try one of these ten ways to make Friday your most productive day of the week.
Be sure to also read our collection of Friday quotes to help you reflect on an amazing week.
Know your goals for the day.
As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, if you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there. The downside to this approach, of course, is that you could end up anywhere. That’s why it’s crucial that you know your goals before you begin. You might have more than one goal for the month or the week. However, try to narrow your list down to the most important goal for today, first; then you can get to the others as time allows. Of course, this also requires that you prioritize, which brings me to the next point.
Do the hardest things first.
This is a great idea for a couple of reasons. First, it makes sense that most days—Friday, especially—you’d want to prioritize and then get the most difficult and onerous tasks out of the way first. That way, they won’t loom over your head. By Friday afternoon, you’ll be eternally grateful, and the rest of the day will go by a lot faster than it would if you’d decided to put off the hard stuff till the last minute. Second, the morning is when you’re the freshest and have the most energy, so it follows that tackling the most difficult task first will make it go that much more smoothly.
According to Greater Good, mindfulness means “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” This means that each task at hand should ideally be completed with full awareness and focus, without a lot of side thoughts and external stimuli crowding out your concentration and focus. One simple way to increase mindfulness is to take up a yoga practice.
For example, Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, introduced a mindfulness program that included the option of either a yoga class or a mindfulness program that focused on stress reduction at work—both of which lasted twelve weeks. At the end of the pilot program, participants reported a significant reduction in their stress levels. In addition to significant preventative health benefits, reducing the likelihood heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the employees also reported a 20% improvement in sleep quality and increased productivity at work.
Prepare your mind & body.
In addition to practicing mindfulness, a recent article on the World Economic Forum site recommends doing all you can to prepare both your mind and your body for productivity at work. First, try your best to get a full night’s sleep. You’d be amazed at the long list of negative consequences that come as a result of inadequate sleep: they include reduced efficiency, errors, accidents, and an increased risk for certain diseases. Second, make time to exercise at least several times a week. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also be better able to concentrate and learn new things at work; you’ll also have a sharper memory and be more creative. Lastly, take time to eat well and don’t forget to take short breaks between projects.
Sometimes, when you’re trying to brainstorm and want to come up with some brilliant ideas and original thoughts, it helps to step away from your computer for a while and sit down with a pen and paper. Unplugging, so to speak, eliminates distractions and forces you to focus solely on the topic at hand. Plus, the fact that your interface—pen and paper—differs so greatly from the computer-keyboard interface, your brain may be jolted into thinking of something you might not ordinarily realize. Moreover, one tool worth trying is a tool recommended by Tim Ferriss: it’s called The 5-Minute Journal—an actual productivity journal you can purchase; however, I imagine that the simple act of taking five minutes to write down your intentions for day can help immensely, as well!
Collaborate & cooperate.
In a recent TED talk by Yves Morieux, director of The Boston Consulting Group’s Institute for Organization, Morieux used the example of a world championship final relay race to make the point that sometimes, it’s not the fastest team that wins; rather, it’s the team that did a better job of cooperating in order to pass the baton in the most efficient manner. Rather than focusing on individual accountability—which places the emphasis on knowing who to blame, if someone fails—the focus is on communication and collaboration.
Likewise, in organizations, it’s crucial to encourage and focus on teamwork. Our workplaces need to allow for opportunities to collaborate, rather than focusing on individual speed and production with its inevitable burn out. Rather than placing the emphasis on measurable results, focus on passing the baton and working together to come up with unique solutions to problems.
Collect & analyze the data.
We may not be there yet, but the future is filled with wearable devices and apps that can measure everything from our heartbeats to the number of emails we send per hour. This Harvard Business Review article offers a few examples of future data-based companies that offer customized recommendations on how their customers can be more productive and effective. In addition, the more sophisticated ‘recommenders’ will offer advice designed to stimulate creativity and collaboration. Introverts will be prompted to use enterprise social media more effectively; employees could also be prompted to read specific memos or invite colleagues to meetings, for example.
Since the future isn’t here yet, consider taking a cue from LeBron James. Before his championship 2011-2012 season, he was seen as a “gifted loser.” Then, in the summer of 2011, he decided to enlist the help of a master: Hakeem Olajuwon. During his sessions with Olajuwon, he implemented one or two new strategies every day; in addition, he taped his workout sessions to be able to study them and more easily repeat them, afterwards. This seemingly obsessive study and analysis made it possible for James to help take his team to the championship in 2012.
Use a calendar, not a to-do list!
I know what you’re thinking: but, aren’t they the same thing? The answer is a definite no. Some of the problems with to-do lists include the following: you may want to write a long, unnecessary list of tasks that don’t have time for; it doesn’t take time into consideration, so you may not correctly guess the amount of time it takes to finish your list; and you put off the tasks you dread and waste time on low-priority tasks, rather than important priorities. Calendars, on the other hand, take time into account; because of this, you’ll know how much time each task should take—necessitating the elimination of low-priority tasks. They are also easier to manage since they provide a visual of your day’s schedule, and you’ll feel more motivated to get the work done within the required time frame.
Take frequent breaks.
Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique? It basically splits work time into 25 minute chunks, with three-to-five minute breaks—ideally with the help of a timer, so that you don’t get distracted during your focus time. The idea is to break large tasks into small parts, so as to make the goal more accessible. Ideally, you repeat the 30 minute periods as many times as necessary (ideally about four times) to complete the overarching task, eventually pausing to take a longer break lasting from 15-30 minutes. It’s said to increase efficiency and productivity because there is more clarity as to exactly what needs to get done in tangible, bite-sized chunks.
Lastly, go easy on yourself: it’s Friday!
This last recommendation needs no explanation.
Feel free to leave a comment with any tips you recommend that you’d like to add to this list, or success stories with any of these ideas, and Happy Friday!