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Do These 10 Things on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

Do These 10 Things on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

How many awesome Mondays have you had in your life? If you are like me, not many I reckon. Mondays can be grim. You are feeling very fragile, nervous, perhaps a little depressed at the mountain of work facing you, and you are having fits of nostalgia about the great weekend. But what if you could organize Fridays a bit better to make the entry into the Monday atmosphere less traumatic? Read on, because you could soon be making your Mondays awesome.

1. Get one major task finished

This is the task that you have said that you will do by Friday. TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday) is now here and you just have to get it done. Here are some tips to make sure this happens this Friday and not Monday or Tuesday … or even next Friday!

  • Alert colleagues that you will be unavailable for a few hours.
  • Make sure that you use Google’s Inbox Pause so that no emails are coming in and there are no alerts popping up in that lower corner on your monitor.
  • Set yourself a time limit – use one of the new task management apps if that helps you. Use the ‘Pomodoro’ time alarm if it suits you. This allows you to work in 25-minute blocks with a 5-minute break after the first slot. Breaks become longer as you progress through the day. It’s up to you.

2. Find a quiet place to work

There may be areas where you can shut yourself away to finish the above task. This is essential as you can avoid the ‘drive-bys’ and all the other interruptions that inevitably mess up your concentration. Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of California has researched the effect of interruptions on productivity. Not only is valuable time lost but stress levels are increased.

3. Now plan the week ahead

Make a to do list now, rather than on Monday morning when you may be overwhelmed with the mayhem. When planning the week ahead, keep in mind that Mondays and Tuesdays are the most productive days at work, so plan the most difficult tasks for then.

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With the to do list made, you can easily cut it by 50% so that you are left with the top priorities for the coming week. Employees frequently misjudge timing and also tend to put minor jobs on the list.

4. Ask for help on Friday, not Monday

If you are going to need extra help during the coming week, Friday is the best day to ask for it. This gives managers time to allocate staff, and there is also a better chance that your request will be granted. It shows that you are planning ahead. Your line manager may well be more open to such requests on a Friday than on a hectic Monday morning!

5. Plan meetings for later in the week

If you decide on meetings, it is better to leave Mondays free, unless the meetings are high priority ones. The reason is that everybody else is also under pressure and you can all have a more productive day.

If you are running section meetings, make sure that there is a strict time limit on them and that there is a no-device policy in place.

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If you are ever asked by your supervisor what suggestions you have to improve meetings, mention the two points above as they can really make a difference.

6. Make Friday an email-free day

If you are in a managerial role, consider what many companies have done by banning all internal emails on Fridays. Everybody gets more work done. You can benefit enormously from this. Think about the following reasons many companies are now advocating for this:

  • It makes more use of the office phone system
  • It reduces digital clutter
  • It encourages more face-to-face interaction with coworkers.

7. Friday is the day to change your routine

Colleagues are more relaxed and more open to informal chats, lunch appointments and discussions on Fridays. You can try changing your routine by:

  • Gravitating to people who inspire you
  • Avoiding the whiners and the rumor mongers
  • Changing your office route so that you meet new colleagues you do not normally see
  • Asking colleagues if you can shadow them for a few hours. You may feel that you want more input on the financial and marketing areas, for example.

Changing your routine and meeting new coworkers will be stimulating and help you to get out of the rut. Friday is a great day to do it as people are in a better mood with the weekend coming up.

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8. Offer to help your boss or a colleague

Because you have been so productive on Monday, you now have some spare time on Friday. Instead of surfing the Internet and catching up on Facebook, why not earn some brownie points by offering to help your manager with an outstanding task that he or she is trying to finish, or asking a team member what help they need.

9. Finish off mindless tasks

Friday is a great day to do routine tasks. They are fairly easy and it is the end of the week, when energy is inevitably low. This could be anything from tidying up digital files, to working on reports, minutes, performance assessments, and accounting.

By doing this, you are freeing up Monday and the rest of the week when these could be irritating obstacles to one of your top priorities. A missed deadline could creep up on you.

10. Show appreciation

Last, but not least, finish the week with a flourish. Send an email (or a thank-you note if you still know how to use a pen!) to a colleague who has performed well, or who has gone the extra mile to help the team out. By just saying thank you will increase motivation and good will, which will contribute to making your workplace a happier and more productive place.

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Now that you have finished your week by planning wisely and getting rid of a lot of clutter, you are in pole position to have an awesome Monday. Enjoy it for a change!

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Featured photo credit: Monday / Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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