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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

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Robert Locke

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

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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