Tempted to take it easy on Fridays? Use them to set yourself up for success instead

Oct 27, 2022 /

For most people, Fridays aren’t exactly known for productivity. In fact, many of us start sliding into our weekends by Friday afternoon if not earlier. However, if you’re going to work on Fridays, there’s no reason to sit around watching the clock and waiting for the weekend to start. By doing these three things, you can end the week feeling much better about your life.

1. Plan your upcoming week

I am a Friday planning evangelist (that’s why “Plan on Fridays” is Rule #2 in my new book Tranquility by Tuesday). Even though it’s hard to start anything new on Friday afternoons, it’s a good time to think about what Future You should be doing. By using your Fridays to do this, you don’t have to give up a chunk of your weekend — or other time — to planning or worrying about what your plans should be.

So take a few minutes every Friday to think about the upcoming week. Make yourself a short, three-category priority list: career, relationships, self. Why three categories? Because it reminds you that there should be something in all three categories and nudge you toward a more balanced life.

Think about what you would most like to accomplish in these three categories by the end of the upcoming week. Where can these things go? Then look at what’s already in your calendar and work through the logistics of adding new things. Make sure you’ve got things to look forward to.

Now you’ve got your marching orders, and you can end your week feeling confident you’ve got things under control.

2. Absorb the overflow

In general, I suggest that you try not to schedule many meetings or events on Fridays and leave your calendar there as blank as possible.

True time management masters create what I call a resilient schedule. And the key thing that a resilient schedule needs is some open space so if something unexpected comes up Monday through Thursday, then you’ve always got a spot to put it on Friday.

Or if something urgent bumped a previously planned priority earlier in the week, you can reschedule that important matter to Friday. You don’t have to keep kicking it to the next week, because that will no doubt have crises of its own.

3. Work through your punch list

Small tasks like filling out forms, responding to non-urgent invitations, paying bills and other chores and tasks can feel like they consume all available space.

They don’t actually take much time, and sometimes it’s tempting to procrastinate on your bigger matters by crossing some of these off. So here’s how to enjoy that cross-it-off satisfaction without muddying your whole schedule: Save these tasks for Friday and do them in one fell swoop.

You’ll feel like a machine as you power through your punch list. Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning when you’re supposed to be doing deeper work, you can tell yourself there’s a time to fill out that form or pay that invoice but now is not that time. You can do it on Friday instead.

This post was adapted from the monthly “Just A Minute” newsletter from Laura Vanderkam. Sign up for it here (and receive a free time makeover guide!), and for additional time-management advice, check out her new book Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 ways to calm the chaos and make time for what matters.

Watch her TEDWomen Talk here: