The Big Idea
Friday can be your most productive day of the week.
Questions I Answer
- How can I make Friday feel more productive?
- What are some strategies to set up my day for success?
- How can I streamline my projects and tasks?
- What are some steps to set better boundaries?
Actions to Take
- Listen to Episode 007: The Surprising Way ‘No’ Can Really Mean Yes to learn how to say ‘no’ in workplace situations.
- Listen to Episode 017: Removing Obstacles: The Lost Art of Quitting to learn how to quit certain things that no longer serve you and your goals.
Key Topics in the Show
Learn how to set up Friday for the ultimate day of success.
How to streamline tasks, projects and more to avoid the Friday burnout.
Discover top trends to look out for at the office that contribute to Friday burnout and how to combat them.
Begin to implement clear boundaries between work and life.
Resources and Links
- 5 Tips on How to Be More Productive on Fridays:
- Use Friday’s for learning – listen to a podcast, read articles you’ve saved throughout the week, etc.
- Make Friday’s for networking with coworkers or clients, have meetings.
- Do a weekly download and plan for the week ahead or set goals on Fridays.
- Make it your quit day – quit something that will free up your time or that is no longer pushing you toward your goals.
- Create a transition ritual so you feel like you can ease into your weekend.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host Tanya Dalton and this is episode 25. Today we are talking about taking back your Friday. We all love Fridays, right? Some people even call it Fri-yay, because hey who doesn’t love the day that marks the official start of the weekend? But Friday is still a workday for many of us, and by far it’s the most unproductive day of the week, but I don’t really think it has to be that way. Today I want to talk to you about how you can make Friday your best workday, and even how you can treat Fridays almost like a day off every single week. Think it’s not possible? I promise you it can happen. It just takes a little bit of planning.
Now as I mentioned, Friday is the least productive day of the entire week. So think about your typical Friday. You’re rushing to end the week on the right foot, yet nothing of major substance actually seems to happen. You’re exhausted and the day just seems to get away from you. Or there’s the opposite end of the spectrum. You’re just ready for the weekend, and you have a slight case of short timers, because you just want to get out of there. You end up spending a decent portion of your day gabbing with co-workers, maybe taking in a little too much Facebook, or forwarding the 10 funny cat videos your mom sent you. Oh, is that just my mom that does that? I don’t think so.
Workplaces typically accept Fridays as the least productive day of the week. A survey of HR professionals found that only 3% of them claimed Fridays were the most productive days in their offices. The app Flow, which is a program similar to a Sauna or Trello, found that consistently Friday is the least productive day for tasks. There are 35% fewer tasks created, 28% fewer tasks delegated from one team member to another, 25% fewer comments posted, and 35% fewer tasks actually completed than any other day of the week.
So some offices realize this, and to combat this, they try instilling things like mandatory late afternoon meetings on Fridays or project deadlines, but many times this backfires because people are just done with their week. I know for me, 3pm on Fridays is my very favorite time of the entire week. My kids are usually home. I have the entire weekend spread before me. I love it.
But Friday doesn’t have to be the least productive day of the week. In fact, it can be the day that you look forward to the most, not because the weekend’s around the corner, although that’s a nice bonus, but because you can set up your Friday for the ultimate success. It’s all about prep work. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Your Friday is the same.
You need to make sure you prep for your Friday. You want to set yourself up for success by making a conscious effort to go to bed earlier on Thursday night to combat that burnout. Now a lot of companies do Thursday night happy hours, which feels like a really good idea until the alarm goes off on Friday morning, and I definitely think you should take part in the fun social side of work, but just make sure you’re thinking ahead to your Friday. So that’s one of the first things you can do. That’s an easy thing. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before. But really pace yourself throughout the week so you can avoid this Friday burnout. You know you’re not in the right mindset on Fridays to start a large project, so when you set your plan for a task like a big project, make sure you have it start on
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a day that can be as productive as possible, and then set the pace throughout the week so you aren’t hit with a giant list of things that have to be done by Friday afternoon. Part of this pacing can include spending your Fridays focused on some of the more brainless type tasks for the project. The bonus of this is this can help lighten the load on all the other days if you batch this task for Fridays. So these are the tasks that you find to be simpler and require less brainwork. So as you’re working on your project and you come across these type of little tasks that need to be done, simply slot those for Friday as part of your administrative time.
So it’s the same thing with completing a big project. Don’t make Fridays your deadline because if you’re the type who tends to run to the eleventh hour on these due dates, this is going to create a stressful Friday afternoon for you, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid. So if you are consistently stressing about deadlines on Fridays, or if you don’t have control over setting your own due dates and deadlines, you might want to consider asking to team up with a colleague. There are lots of benefits with offering to team up with colleagues including taking leadership positions and many things like that. It doesn’t have to be looked at as a negative thing if you feel like that would help you make your Fridays a little bit more manageable and a little more productive.
I want you to think about preparing by thinking ahead. Don’t wait to be told what to do. If you have a boss that typically waits until Friday afternoon to tell you about things they need done for Monday, take notice and start to get ahead of this trend. So instead of waiting for this talk to come up, try to make it a point to ask on
Thursdays, “Hey, is there anything that can get wrapped up before the weekend? I finished X and Y and I’ve got some time left today to start working on anything pressing for Monday. Let me know if I can start working on this potential project.” You’ll actually look better to your boss because you’re taking the initiative asking for additional projects instead of waiting for them to come on Friday afternoon, and it may even help change their habit and start talking to you on Thursdays about things that are due for Mondays.
Now if your boss does continue to push tasks until Friday afternoons, don’t forget, you can say no by saying yes. “I’d love to take this project on, but what should I de-prioritize to be able to do this project to the best of my ability?” That’s a way of saying, “Yeah, I can’t really do that and do all the other things.” Feel confident in your ability to draw clear lines between work and personal life, especially when your boss’s expectations are detrimental to the quality of your work or your personal wellbeing. Now Friday is still a workday, but the weekend is not a workday, and to have consistent expectations for you to work over the weekend causes your Friday to be stressful and your weekends not to be focused on the things that are your priorities. That’s actually what we’re going to be talking about next week.
Now if you do have a boss or a manager that seems to have a disregard for those work life boundaries or expects work to be delivered in unrealistic timeframes like over the weekend, and they do that on a consistent basis, then you might need to quote unquote train them to have reasonable expectations.
Now you can respond on Friday afternoons or even on the weekend with emails with timelines. So it can be really hard to just stop responding to emails outside of work hours, especially if you’ve already set that expectation that you’ll usually respond. So try not responding with actual answers, unless of course you’ve been given a really urgent deadline. Instead, give a reasonable timeline for when the project or that assignment will be completed. Lay out a clear plan to avoid any confusion or further emailing. So you could say something like, “I reviewed the email
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and the assignment details. I will be able to have X completed and sent to you by one o’clock on Monday afternoon. I’ll let you know if I have any questions as I’m working.” That will help your boss start to recognize your boundaries. You’re available to read and answer emails outside of work hours, but you’re not working 24/7. But they also get that piece of mind that you received and read the email, and that you have an action plan. I know, for me, as I’m a boss in my business, sometimes I just want to email my employees to tell them something on the weekend, not because I expect them to respond, but because I’m thinking about it now, I want to get it out of my head, and then we can discuss it on Monday. So give your boss a little bit of grace, that may be exactly what they’re doing, but if you’re finding that they consistently are expecting you to get some serious work done over the weekend, that’s when you really need to start implementing some clear boundaries of your work and your personal life.
So that’s four different ideas for how you can set your Fridays up for success. Prep the night before with a good night’s sleep on Thursday. Pace yourself so Friday doesn’t hit you like a freight train. Think ahead by getting projects started before Fridays, and then train your boss to understand expectations of your work and your life. Honestly, prepping is the key to all productivity. Feeling like you prepared can really change the way you feel about this last day of your work week. But my favorite idea for taking back your Friday, take Fridays off. Okay, not really, because we can’t take Friday off every single week, but make it feel like it is a day off. Save Friday for the tasks that you really look forward to doing, so it feels like Friday is just the day that eases you into your weekend. So what are the things you love to do? Can you make it so these are the things that you’re tackling at the end of your week? So lets talk about a few strategies to make you feel like Fridays are your day off.
First one is to use Fridays for learning. Learning and growing and strategizing are all really important for your business. They should really be in your important priority level, right? That’s an important priority level task, but we tend to push them off as leisure tasks or, “I don’t know, I’ll squeeze that in somewhere.” Well, make time for these important tasks on Fridays, and you’ll always feel like you’re up on the latest news, trends and information that’s related to your work.
So an easy way to do this is to save any relevant articles or books or other resources that you find throughout the week. So I create a Friday reading section in my bookmarks on my browser, and then as I come across articles or I see a video, someone’s forwarded me something, those land in my inbox or they come across my desk, I mark them in that file. Same thing with physical copies of books or magazines. Create a space where those live so that on Fridays, you can give yourself a good chunk of time to go through this all. So that’s a time for you to really look into reading a book that maybe helps you, or reading all those different articles. Save up the videos like catching up on TED talks. Watching a video of a TED talk might feel like a distraction on Tuesday at two o’clock, but if you set aside a block of time for learning, this task now feels as important as it is. Treat this time just as you would any other important task. Make sure to turn off potential distractions like email or notifications.
During this learning time, you could also set it aside as time for honing in on a new skill, especially if your employer lets you take time to work on new skills or even has in house trainings. So this could be a new software program, a new piece of equipment, or perhaps a new technique. Learning new things like this can really feel frustrating when they’re shoved into a packed day, because we feel like, “I don’t have
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time to use this new software. I know how to use the old software.” Or, “I don’t want to try this new technique. I don’t have time to do that,” but if you have time set aside just for learning, it begins to feel a little more like playing and less like work, which actually will help you loosen up a little bit, and you’ll probably actually learn this new skill faster.
Not sure if your work will allow for something like this? Well, the easiest way is just to block off your time and put on some headphones, listen to an audiobook or a podcast while sitting in front of your computer. So using some time on Friday where
you are really focused in on honing in your skills, learning new things, is a great way to feel like Friday is a little more fun.
The second category of things you can do on Friday is use it for networking. Since Fridays tend to be slower, this is a great time to plan one-on-one meetings with your team or the people that you manage, and because Fridays are the least productive for almost everyone, this is a perfect time to spend some time getting to know key people, whether that’s direct reports to your team, or someone you want to collaborate with on a project that you haven’t even met. People tend to be in a more sociable mood on Fridays because, hey, we’re all excited for the weekend, right? You have good talking points on a personal level, and also it’s a little more relaxed. Conversation will feel a lot easier.
If you can’t meet up with the people in person, then take this time to appreciate the people in your network via social media. So take some time to not just reach out and make new connections, but cultivate the ones that you have. When you spend time on Fridays for networking, it feels a lot more social, so it feels more fun, but this is something that’s really important for all of us to be doing, cultivating and growing the relationships with other people. So Friday is a fabulous day to network. The third strategy for making Friday feel like it’s a day off is use it for your weekly download and your future planning. Use Fridays to plan the week ahead instead of your Mondays. You can take the time to look over your calendar, make sure you’re prepared for meetings, appointments and due dates for the week ahead, and if you don’t feel like you’re prepared, you can schedule some time in early in the following week. So that way you’re not worrying about it during the weekend, and you’ve already set the next week into motion with some good pacing, so that you’re not going to be ending your Fridays feeling like you have a lot to do. If planning is the last thing you do on Fridays, it’ll be fresh in your mind when you start work on Monday. You can even take some time to just straighten up your desk area, put your notes that you have for yourself of your planning out on your desk, so when you come in on Monday morning, it starts it off on the right note. There’s nothing better than coming in and seeing a nice clean desk waiting for you, and the week feels like it’s so much more achievable.
You can also spend some time reviewing your week, and that helps give you a little bit of closure so you can thoroughly enjoy your weekend ahead. I have a friend Reina who does a weekly download using Typeform. Now no one else sees her Typeform answers but her, but it’s a way for her to do a check in just to see how she’s feeling, and then I think the best part of it is, she keeps a copy of this, and when she finishes out her year, she does a little review to see how she felt each week of the year, and she can see how in her different seasons her productivity went up and down, the ebb and flow of how her work went, and it gives her a great snapshot of her year. So I love that idea.
The fourth way you can take your Fridays back is by making Fridays your quit day. If you listened to episode 17, you know that I think quitting is an important thing
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to include in a normal rotation. Basically, it’s taking an assessment of the internal and external expectations, and seeing if there’s something out there that needs to go. So I’m talking work and I’m talking personal life here. Fridays can be your day to really look and figure out if there’s some things you want to get rid of.
Bob Goff who’s the author of Love Does, he has what he calls Quit Thursdays, and this is what he says, he says, “It’s Thursday. Quit something. Eliminate some of the noise in your life and let the symphony have the stage again.” I love that, but I really like the idea to make Friday your day to say no. Friday is a great day because you’re heading into the weekend feeling like a weight has been lifted, and I love the idea of that. Really taking the time to assess how you’re feeling and get rid of some of that extra weight, that extra noise going on in your life.
And then my fifth idea for how you can take Friday off, is to take aside some time and spend it on transitioning. Create some transition rituals. A lot of people ease into work on Sundays, so why not ease out of work on Friday afternoons? As I mentioned, you can take some time to declutter and prep your office for the following week. Spend a few minuets making your office free of distractions so when you come into work on Monday morning, your week starts off on a high. Nothing is worse than coming in Monday morning to see a hot mess sitting on your desk waiting. It’s also a great time, during this transition, to socialize with the rest of the team, to wrap up the week a bit. Use this time to get to know others, even if it’s to do things like brainstorming sessions. That way, you’re still working, but you have the freedom to work and think big with goals and projects, because you have that space. So that’s five ideas for how you can take Fridays off. We have use Fridays for learning, use Fridays for networking, you can use Fridays for a weekly download and future planing, make it your quit day, and create a transition ritual so you feel like you can ease into your weekend.
The main takeaway I want you to have is that Friday doesn’t have to be our least productive day of the week. Make it super productive while also feeling like it’s a great start into your weekend. By saving up the fun tasks in your week, you’re going to be excited to get to work on Fridays, and you won’t feel that end of the week burnout. I want you to really finish out your workweek strong, so that as you get into the weekend, you’re really able to enjoy it.
That’s what we’ll be talking about next week. We’ll be talking about making the most of your weekends. So let’s start by making Friday a fabulous day in our week, so that we can really enjoy that weekend on the things that matter most to us. Okay, I hope you got some great tips today. I’ve got some good actionable items for you to start working on. You can of course get this whole list by going to inkwellpress.com/ podcast and then click on episode 25. I’ll have notes written there for you. So if you wanted to know what were those five different things we talked about for taking Friday off, you can find those there.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can connect with me via email or you can find me on social media using the username @inkwellpress on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. All right, until next time, happy planning.
**This transcript is created by AI, so please excuse any typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes.
As a female productivity keynote speaker, Tanya Dalton helps women live with intention. She offers keynotes on time management, goal setting, and finding meaning at work.