Tips from productivity experts to getting your work done ASAP at the end of the week
These experts know how to make your Fridays anything but freaky.
Summer Fridays, or the Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day when employees can often work half-days, have become a seasonal perk across many industries. But many people find that getting enough work out of the way in time to escape early is easier said than done.
Suzanne Cimolino, a 25-year old NBC Universal employee, told Moneyish that she has to work overtime the week before in order to take her Summer Fridays. And if she didn’t, she’d be the only person in her office after 1 p.m. each Friday. “They advise you to put in a couple extra hours Monday through Thursday to make up for leaving work early on Friday,” Cimolino said.
But the secret to slipping out early on Fridays could be more about efficiency during regular work hours versus putting in extra time. Turns out, we’re wasting a lot of precious minutes and hours on our devices and being sucked into meetings each day. A Harris Poll and CareerBuilder survey of thousands of managers and workers found that the top reason 50% of people procrastinate at work is because they’re goofing around on their cell phones. And another 42% of people cite gossiping as a cause for their wasted time, and 39% blame the internet for their inefficiency. Social media is responsible for 38% of people being less productive, and more than a quarter (27%) of workers blame snacking or smoke breaks as the reason why they aren’t getting their work done.
So Moneyish spoke to some productivity experts to make a game plan for getting everything done so that you can make a break for it ASAP each Friday.
Complete your toughest tasks first. Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs.com, told Moneyish, “Front load your week with your most difficult tasks. This gives you enough time and energy to tackle them before Friday.” Prioritize your to-do list with the most complicated, long lead time items that may require input from others, as relying on co-workers or clients to perform at the end of the week can delay you.
Don’t schedule any meetings on Friday. The Harris Poll notes that 23% of employees say meetings, emails and co-workers dropping by waste the most time. So if you can, keep Friday completely clear of meetings and most to-do list items. Save that time for anything that comes up last-minute; and when you’re aiming for a long weekend, something always seems to come up at the last minute. So having an open schedule helps accommodate those surprises.
Do some work from home. In their survey of over 5,000 people, FlexJobs.com found that 66% say they’re more productive working from home because of fewer interruptions from colleagues, less distraction and a more comfortable environment. So get ahead for the weekend by tackling some tasks out of the office. “Ask if you can work from home a bit at night during the week. Even 30-60 minutes at night can help,” said Reynolds.
Listen to music that’s proven to make you focus. Tune out distractions. Brain.fm app’s CEO Daniel Clark stands behind the sound platform that uses patented artificial intelligence to play music continuously for hours, without the annoying disruption of track changes. Experiments testing the service against other focus-music suggest reaction-speed improvements of 10% to 15%. So if you can get 15% more done Monday through Thursday, you should, in theory, only need to work 40% of the day on Friday.
Check your email less often. According to a survey of more than 1,000 white collar workers conducted by the Washington Post, the average person spends roughly 4.1 hours checking work email every day. To minimize this and maximize productivity, consider designating certain times to check email each day instead of doing it intermittently between tasks. And unsubscribe from the messages you really don’t need to read every day. Moneyish has tips to managing an out-of-control inbox here.
Eat lunch at your desk on Friday. Skip the half hour or more involved in ordering food, taking a walk and sitting down to eat, to just work through lunch, instead. Or compromise by packing a lunch and eating at your desk while you finish up what you need to get done. Missing a lunch break is worth it if you plan to leave around lunchtime on Friday, anyway.
Show up to work early on Friday. “Ask if you can flex your hours and come in a bit early on Friday morning to get ahead,” Reynolds said. And getting there before anyone else lets you work without the distraction of coworkers striking up a conversation about the upcoming weekend, or making noise at their desks by chatting on speakerphone. “One or two quiet hours in the office can make all the difference if you’re trying to leave early,” Reynolds added.
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