268: Making Your Least Productive Day, Your Best Day of the Week | Tanya Dalton
How to make Friday more productive podcast episode
July 19, 2022   |   Episode #:

268: Making Your Least Productive Day, Your Best Day of the Week

In This Episode:

For most people, Friday is the least productive day of the week. Most offices notice a 35% dip in productivity. With a few strategies you can eliminate end-of-the-week burnout and actually make Fridays your most successful and rewarding day of the week. In this episode I talk about setting boundaries, how to pace your week, why most people struggle with the 5 day workweek and I’ll share five ways you can use Friday so it feels like you got a bonus day off.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Friday can be the best day of the week, not just because it’s leading into the weekend, but because you feel productive and accomplished.

Questions I Answer

  • How can I take control over my calendar?
  • What tasks are best done on Fridays?
  • How do I get my boss to stop giving me so much to do?
  • How do I set boundaries with my boss?

Actions to Take

  • Decide how you want to spend your Fridays and begin batching
  • Block off time on your Friday for “administrative” tasks
  • Create a folder to save resources for your learning block on Fridays

Key Moments in the Show

[05:01] Why Friday is the least productive day

[08:18] How to prep for a successful end to the week

[09:39] Creating a rhythm to your week

[12:57] What if your boss puts too much on your plate?

[19:47] Making Friday feel like a day off

[24:26] Going into the weekend feeling lighter

Resources and Links

  • 5 Ways to Use Your Friday:
    • 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
    • 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
Show Transcript

Hello, hello everyone and welcome to the intentional advantage podcast. I’m your host Tanya Dalton. This is episode 268. We’re doing something really fun. This summer. We’re doing what I’m calling the summer series, which is a chance for me to dive back into the archives we’ve had 267 episodes before this one and go back in and pull out some of the popular fan favorite episodes and give them a refresh, revamp them and re-record them. 

 I’ve had a lot of fun really diving back and figuring out which episodes I want to pull from. Because what’s funny is even though this episode that I am going to be doing today is a refresh from oh my gosh, Episode 25 which was in season two, we just finished season 21 If that gives you any idea of how far back this goes. So even though it was recorded years and years ago, it’s still extraordinarily relevant. And it’s actually an episode that I have referred back to numerous times. Season two was all about streamlining. So it was my first real fully fleshed out season. My first season. of our searching episodes I mapped him out but I didn’t necessarily have a solid theme. Season two was when I really started deciding I wanted to have a theme. I want it to really have a certain flow. And so this episode today was episode 25 from season two in that season on streamlining we talked about time buffers about making better decisions about sunk cost bias. We talked about how to really make your schedule work for you. Great season, but I know for a lot of you, especially those of you who’ve been with me for forever since episode one that was years ago, maybe you forgot about this episode, even though it’s great. And for those of you who are newer to me, maybe you don’t want to go back and listen to all 267 episodes before today. I wouldn’t blame you.

It’s a lot of listening to me. But I do have a lot of people who actually go back and they listen to all of the episodes. We get emails all the time for people who are listening to episodes that were years and years ago. So it is a lot of fun, but there is a lot of gold in there. So I wanted to pull this forward because this episode is about taking back your Friday. You know the last episode that we did in the summer series was all about going on vacation, how to go on vacation and do it stress free so that you can come back and feel refreshed. feel excited about the work you’re doing. And like I was thinking about the summer series I thought you know we’re doing that episode on vacations which is perfect of course for the summertime. I want Friday to feel like a vacation day for you as well. I mean, we all love Friday, right? I mean, who doesn’t love the day that marks the official start of the weekend. But the truth is, Friday is still a workday for many people and it is by far the most productive day of the week. I don’t think it has to be that way. That’s what I love about this episode about taking back your Friday. So that’s what we’re going to do we’re going to refresh and re-record the episode 25 And we’re going to update it for today because I want to talk about how you can make Friday your best work to not your most unproductive your best day and even how you can treat Fridays almost like a day off every single week. I know you might be thinking that’s not possible, but I promise you it can happen just takes a little bit of planning. 

So let’s dive into this because I’m excited about this. I think summer is the perfect time to kind of take a good look at how you’re spending your time and do a little refresh, a little revamp kind of like we’re doing here with the summer series. So as I mentioned, Friday is the least productive day of the week. It’s not really surprising. I mean, think about your typical Friday. There’s either one or two things that are happening. Either you are rushing to the end of the week, and you’re trying to get everything done. Yet nothing of major substance actually happens. You’re exhausted because you’ve been dealing with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So the day just seems to get away from you. Or it’s the opposite end of the spectrum. You are just ready for the weekend. You have a slight pace of the short timers where you just want to get out of there, you end up spending a good sized portion of your day maybe gabbing with your coworkers maybe taking a little too much time on social media, or you know watching the 10 Funny Cat Videos your mom sent you that just my mom sends the funny cat videos I would think so. 

So the workplace typically finds and accepts that Friday is a less productive day of the week. In fact, a survey of HR professionals found that only 3% claimed that Fridays were the most productive days in their offices, three percent which tells you I mean while we all love Friday, it’s kind of a stinker when it comes to the Getting Things Done. Right. And a separate study found that consistently, Friday is the least productive day of the week with 35% fewer tasks completed. Right? I mean, what’s the point? Why are we going to work on Fridays? Just part of the reason why I started a four day workweek myself but here’s the thing, some offices have decided that they’re going to combat this if they’re gonna make sure that Friday is super productive. So they make mandatory late afternoon meetings, or they set project deadlines for Fridays but a lot of times what happens is this backfires because a lot of people on Friday, they are done with the week. They’re just over it. They’re ready for the weekend. For me personally Friday, three o’clock. Best single hour of the entire week, right the whole weekend is spread before you. I love it when three o’clock Kay is home from school. Everything is amazing, right? We’re just gearing up for the weekends. So here’s the thing: Friday doesn’t have to be our least productive day of the week. In fact, it can be the day that we know that we’re going to love, that it’s just the day that we’re excited about, not just because the weekend is around the corner, but because you set up your Friday for success. All right. 

And really what this boils down to is just about anything boils down to it’s all about the prep work. You know Abraham Lincoln supposedly once said, Give me six hours to chop down a tree. I’ll spend the first four sharpening the ax. I love that quote, right because really, it’s all about the preparation and your Friday is no different. We want to make sure that you’re prepped and ready for Friday so we can feel amazing. So there’s several ways you can set yourself up for success on Fridays. It simply takes you know intentionality, a little bit of conscious effort. 

We want to end Thursday on a solid note. We want to avoid burnout right? So if we end Thursday on a solid note, it gives us some good momentum to head into Friday right now. The thing is, a lot of companies do like a Thursday night happy hour. Sounds like a good idea. We love getting together socially until the alarm goes off on Friday morning. I definitely think you should take part in the fun social side of work, but just make sure that you are aware you gotta get up on Friday. So that’s one of the first things making sure that you’re really setting up Thursday. So that Friday feels easier, right? And what we want to do honestly is pace yourself throughout the week. We don’t want to go hard on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. So then when we get to Thursday afternoon we’re just like petering out and Friday is just done. We want to take our time to really map out where we want our week to go. And I think it comes back to that word again of intentionality. Because the thing is, if we map out our week, and we know gosh, you know what, Mondays are always crazy. There’s lots of meetings. Tuesday is my day where I get a solid amount of work done. Then let’s make Tuesday the project start date for your projects, because that’s the day where you feel most solid instead of pushing it to the end of the week, right or sprinting and doing 1000 things at the start of the week. So Friday is the only day you can start. Let’s really be intentional with how we’re spending our days. 

This goes back to that whole idea that we’ve talked about God knows how many times about your ultradian rhythm. Understanding what are the best days, the best times for you to work when you’re most creative when you’re feeling most productive. Start paying attention to that and then make your project start dates really work with you. Monday is crazy because it is full of meetings, so we don’t want to start things on Monday. We also don’t want to push them to the end of the week where they’re piling up like traffic jams right for Friday. So what we want to do is we want to set ourselves up for success, you know, odds are, you’re not going to be in the right mindset on Fridays to start a large project. So let’s start it on the day where you feel like you’re most productive. And then you can set your pace throughout the week so that you’re not hit with this giant list of things that has to be done by Friday afternoon, because that’s what happens. These things just keep pushing off of your to do list. This is why we use a priority list but we’re not going to get into that today. But they keep getting pushed right and then suddenly it’s Friday and you’re like oh my god I have so much to do. Right? And this is the thing…if we know that Friday isn’t our time or we’re wanting to use our brains because we’re tired. 

Let’s use Friday to focus on some of the more brainless type tasks, you know, for a project. And the bonus of this is that it actually can help lighten the load on other days if you batch this task for Friday’s. So these are the tasks that you find to be really simple and require less brain work. Returning emails is a perfect example of something that doesn’t require a lot of heavy duty thinking, not a heavy level heavy lifting, but it’s something that needs to be done, right? But there’s even higher level things that fall into your zone of genius, things that are easy for you that you can wait and do on Friday when your brain doesn’t need to work quite as hard. Right? There are certain things that you do that you’re like, oh my gosh, that’s a cakewalk for me that other people think are really difficult. You could save those tasks for Friday afternoons. Right and as you’re working on your projects, or whatever it is you’re doing and you come across this type of work, things that are really simple or brainless or, you know, easy to manage, simply slot it for Friday as part of you could call it administrative time. And it’s the same thinking too with completing the project. 

We don’t want to make Fridays your deadline because if you’re the type that tends to run to the 11th hour on due dates, man your Friday is going to be stressful, right and that’s not what we want. We want Friday to be fun. We want Friday to be the start of an amazing weekend. So if you find that you’re constantly stressing about deadlines on Fridays, or if you don’t have control over setting your own deadlines, you might want to consider changing the deadline to the day before so even if your boss says I want it done on Friday, you can in your brain go okay, I’m not saving that to be done on Friday. My due date is Thursday. Right because you know you don’t want your Friday to feel stressful. You can set your deadline for Thursday and Friday could be just going back over the project and kind of finishing up a few of the easier things right polishing it up making it even nicer. 

And the same holds true if your boss is the type that typically waits till Friday afternoon to tell you about things they need done for Monday. I want you to take notice and start to get ahead of that trend. If you’re noticing that this is something that happens again and again and again. Instead of waiting for this talk to come up. I want you to make an appointment on Thursday to ask your boss if there’s anything that you can get wrapped up before the weekends. So start being really proactive. This goes back to that whole idea we just talked about with mapping out your week and really being intentional with it. If you know your boss is the type to fill your inbox on Friday at two o’clock with projects and tasks. Go ahead and be proactive. You can go ahead and have a set meeting with them. Ask them if you can have a set meeting on Thursday afternoon so that you could check in to see if there’s anything that needs to be done before Monday. Or you can ping them and say you know I finished up X and Y, I’ve got some time left today to start working on anything that’s pressing for Monday. Let me know if I can begin working on whatever it is right. Here’s the bonus: you’re going to actually look better to your boss and to your co-workers because you’re taking an initiative, asking for the additional projects instead of waiting for them to land in your inbox on Friday afternoon. And this can help encourage them to change their habits. So like I said you could even create a standing meeting with your boss that’s 15 minutes on Thursday afternoon. And you can say I just want to check in every Thursday, just real quick to see if there’s anything that we need to get done before Monday. So that way Fridays are not as stressful and neither are Mondays. Right? And I want to remind you to have this because I think this is something we often forget if you have someone who continually pushes tasks until Friday afternoons, don’t forget you can say no, I am saying yes. And I think this is always whenever I’m doing a speaking engagement. This is always one of the top questions I get asked, well, how do you tell your boss that they’re not prioritizing? Or how do you tell my boss that they’re putting too much on my plate so all we need to do is say you know something like, I’d love to take on this project. What should I deprioritize to make sure that this project is my priority? Right? This is a great reminder for your boss. The truth is when you have a lot on your plate your boss has a lot on their plate as well. So they’re busy looking at their plate. They don’t realize they’ve piled a bunch of stuff on yours. So pushing back very gently. You’ll notice that this is a very gentle push back that you would love to take this on. What do I need you to deprioritize it’s really powerful and get them to realize well what else do you have going on? I know for myself as a boss that I tell my team to say this to me, because then I’ll follow up and say, Wait, what have I assigned you already? I forgot that I assigned them three different things over the course of the week, right because I got it off my plate. It’s now on their plates. So I want you to really be competent about drawing these boundaries. 

This is something that we’ve definitely had a lot of conversations about in our last season on reclaiming your power that we want to set our boundaries. Our boundaries are our rules of engagement of how we want to behave and how we want others to behave with us, right. So I want you to really feel confident setting up those boundaries. And let’s just go ahead and address the issue if you have a boss or a manager or someone that you’re working with who has a complete disregard for work life boundaries, or expects work to be delivered in unrealistic timeframes. You know, like over the weekend, if this is a consistent problem happens from time to time where someone’s like, oh my gosh, I need this done over the weekend. But if this is consistent, you have to train them to have reasonable expectations. You don’t have to tell them you’re training them. Just train them very gently. You know you can respond to Friday afternoon and weekend emails with timelines instead. I know for a lot of people, it’s not possible to just not reply to emails outside of work hours, especially if you have set that expectation that usually respond but instead of responding and doing the work and handing it over, read, don’t respond with actual answers. Respond with a reasonable timeline for when the project or the assignment is going to be complete. Lay out a clear plan to avoid any confusion or the need for any further emailing. You could say something like I got your email and the assignment details. I’ll be able to have x y z completed and sent to you by Monday afternoon around 1pm. I’ll let you know if I have any questions as I’m working. See what we did here. We didn’t do the work over the weekend we set an expectation of when the work will be done. Right. What you’re doing is you’re setting that boundary for yourself. I cannot tell you how important it is to set your boundaries. And what happens is your boss or your coworker, whoever it is starts to recognize your boundaries. Right? You’re available to read and answer the emails outside of work hours but you’re not working 24/7. You also have given them the peace of mind it’s been received and you have an action plan. All right. That’s what I want you to do –really set those boundaries. We want Friday to feel amazing and incredible. We want your weekend to feel incredible. So let’s start making it a week that works for us. Instead of feeling like we’re responding to every urgent fire that comes our way. All right. Well, here’s what I want to do, though– I want to talk about making Friday feel like you’re taking it off. Right? That’s my favorite way to take back your Friday to feel almost like it’s a day off. Not really a full day off, but it feels that way. Let’s talk about that in just a moment. After this quick mid episode break. 

I hope you’re enjoying this summer series where we are refreshing and re-recording these podcasts episodes. This honestly is one of my favorite episodes. And so I was really inspired to do this because I recently refreshed and revamped some of my most popular courses, my extraordinary life blueprint as well as my multiply your time course, both have been extraordinarily popular. People love those programs, and I’ve given them a little bit of a refresh. So I’d love for you to check them out because the refresh did include a price drop. So if you are interested in understanding how you’re spending your time feeling more in charge with your time…understanding how you can bend, stretch and multiply your time multiplying your time course might be just for you. Or if you’re interested in setting a big goal for yourself, setting that vision for yourself. The extraordinary life blueprint has also been revamped. You can check out both of those courses at Tanya adulting.com/courses. I would love for you to check them out. These two programs have truly helped 1000s of women shift and change how they work and how they live. So go to TanyaDalton.com/courses. 

All right, let’s talk about my favorite parts of this whole episode, which is about truly making your Fridays feel a little bit like they’re a day off. It feels like a day that’s decadent. What I want you to think about doing is saving Friday for the tasks that you really look forward to doing. So it feels like Friday is just the day that eases you into the weekend. So how would you think about what are the things that you love to do? Can you make it so that these are things you tackle at the end of your week? So essentially what we’re doing here is we’re taking tasks and we’re batching them, we are grouping them together. So you’re spending more time doing things that you love. So let me give you a couple of examples. 

You could use Fridays for learning. I mean, let’s be honest, learning, growing and strategizing are all important for your career. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s really important for your business. And it really should be one of those high level priority tasks, but we tend to push them off, right because we’re so busy doing other things. So here’s what I’d love for you to do. Use Fridays as a way for you to learn. An easy way to do this is to save any relevant articles or books or videos or resources that you found throughout the week. And you can create a Friday Reading section in your bookmarks on your browser. I use an app called Pocket and it saves all the articles I’ve noticed throughout the week and then on Friday afternoons, I spend time reading those articles right over saving those videos that land in your inbox, mark them in that file. Same thing if you get physical copies of journals or books or magazines create a space where these lives so that you can spend a good chunk of Friday diving into them. There’s nothing better than spending your Friday learning something new. It’s a great time to catch up on what’s the newest innovations in your industry. It’s a great time to catch up on videos like TED Talks. You know, watching a TED Talk video might feel like a distraction on Wednesday at three o’clock but if you choose to set aside a block of learning time, this task now feels important as it is right. I want you to treat this time just as you would any other important tasks, making sure to turn off any potential distractions like emails and notifications. But what’s going to happen is you’re really sharpening yourself up. Right setting aside time for learning a new skill is really going to help you in your career or your personal life. Right? It could be learning a new software program, exploring with a new piece of equipment or a new technique, because the truth is sometimes learning things like this can feel frustrating when they’re shoved into your already packed day. But when you set time aside just for learning, it begins to feel more like playing and less like work, which is going to help you loosen up a little bit and will actually help you learn that new skill even faster. 

All right, so another way you could use Fridays is for networking. Hey, if Fridays are already slower, this is a great time for you to plan one on one meetings with your team or with the people you manage. Right because it’s a great time since Friday is the least productive day for everybody. So it’s a perfect time to spend a little bit of effort getting to know key people, whether that’s direct reports to your team or someone you want to collaborate with on a project someone you haven’t met. Most people tend to be a little more sociable on Fridays because just like you’re excited for the weekend, they are too so they’re much more relaxed and conversation feels even easier. So you can do this by meeting up with people in person in your office in your space or meeting them for coffee or you can set up virtual coffee dates. I’m a big advocate for setting up you know, 15 or 30 minute zoom calls with people and calling them virtual coffee dates. So think about that. Being a great way to get to know other people. 

You could use Fridays for a weekly download. And for future planning. You could use your Fridays for planning the week ahead. Instead of using Mondays I generally like Mondays but some people like like Fridays so what you can do is look over your calendar make sure you’re prepared for any of the meetings, the appointments, the due dates that are coming in the week ahead. And that’s going to help you twofold. First of all, you’re going to feel prepared, you’re gonna feel ready to go. But also when you show up for those meetings, you’re gonna have everything you need. So taking time to review your week, and then planning ahead for your upcoming week. Provide some closure for the week behind you and allows you to thoroughly enjoy your weekend while getting ready for that week ahead. 

Another idea for Fridays… make Friday your day to quit. Okay, not your job. Maybe it depends on how your job feels. But quitting is something we have definitely talked about numerous times on this podcast. Quitting is an important part of what we should be doing on a regular basis because we tend to take on new tasks, new projects, all kinds of things we’re adding onto our plate. And if we’re not regularly creating space to check to see what we need to take off of that play. What we need to quit. What’s gonna end up happening is that play gets really really full, it gets over full. I want you to shift your thinking: quitting is not an end. It’s an opportunity to redefine and refocus your life. So Fridays are a great opportunity to do a quick little assessment and decide to say no, Friday is a great day. You know why? Because then you head into the weekend, feeling like a weight has been lifted. So creating a little block of time for you to do a little quitting to do a little assessing of what you have on your plate is really, really powerful and then you can use Fridays as a time for transitioning. 

Creating some beautiful transition rituals can be really powerful. A lot of people ease into work on Sundays, right Sunday nights into Monday morning. Why not think about easing out of work on Friday afternoon. Closing that work compartment behind us he can go home, be fully 100% present for those people that you love to do things during this time, like taking time to declutter your office or prep it for next week. Spend a few minutes making sure that your office is free of distractions so that when you come in on Monday morning you feel ready for work.

You know, there’s nothing worse than coming in on Monday morning and seeing a hot mess sitting on your desk just waiting for you. So make part of your transition, getting your space geared up and ready for Monday morning. You could also use this transition time to socialize a little bit with the people on your team to wrap up the week to do a little get to know each other to do some brainstorming sessions. That way you’re still working, but you’re also really creating connections between other people in the office. 

All right, so there’s just a couple of ideas. I love batching some of these tasks for Friday so use Fridays for learning, use Fridays for networking. Use it for a weekly download and Future Planning prep. Make Friday’s your day to quit or create some transition time. Here’s the main takeaway I have for you. I want Friday to not feel like the least productive. I want to make it super productive. While also feeling like it’s like this amazing start to your weekend. Your Friday can be the best day of the week, not just because it’s leading into the weekend, but because you feel so good about what you’ve accomplished. And that is an incredible feeling. That’s what I want for you. Oh, I love that we’re going back and revisiting some of these old episodes. Truly, there’s a lot of gold in all those archives. And it’s been really fun bringing it back to the summer series. I hope you’re enjoying this. We’re going to continue the next episode with some more of the summer sessions. But here’s what I want you to remember. And I want you to keep in mind this week when we save up the fun tasks in our week when we batch our tasks so that we can do them on Fridays. We take control of how our week feels and we are in charge that’s reclaiming our power. It’s avoiding burnout and feeling excited for each and every day for what we get to do, not what we have to do that we’re stuck doing, living our life to the fullest. And that my friends, that is the intentional advantage. 

.*Please note: Transcripts are created using AI and may contain misspelled words or grammatical errors.

Tanya Dalton is a productivity keynote speaker who specializes in speaking to women and female audiences to help them be more productive.

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