It’s hard not to like Fridays. Aside from being the last day of the workweek, they’re our gateway to the weekend. But, sometimes, getting a Friday right can be as hard as pulling off a tenth-frame turkey in bowling. That’s because many of us put off our critical responsibilities until the last minute or choose to slack off on Fridays after a long, grueling week.
In my experience, there are really only three kinds of Fridays you can have in the office: a Bad Friday, when the s*** hits the fan, leaving you with stress that bleeds into the weekend; a Lost Friday, the kind of unproductive day that leaves you numb to any progress you made in the past week; and, finally, a "Good Friday."
A Good Friday really ties the week together, with perfectly accomplished objectives, and usually results in high-fives and happy hours. It allows you and your team to float into the weekend and recharge for Monday.
Set yourself up for a good Friday.
Achieving a perfect Friday isn’t necessarily difficult to achieve; it just requires some planning in the beginning of the week and a bit of discipline throughout. Here are some tips for creating a Good Friday:
1. Define what a good Friday looks like.
Jump-start a productive week and set yourself up for a Good Friday by creating a solid plan the previous Monday for what you want your team to accomplish by week's end. Think of your week as being Monday through Thursday, with Friday a bumper zone to finish up any lingering to-dos.
Envision what a successful week will look like, to give you a goal for Friday. For instance, my product team at Filament wanted to launch our billing system by the end of the week, so we imagined sitting in the office on Friday, enjoying a celebratory beer as we watched the sales roll in. To get to that point, we had a lot of work to do before Friday, but having decided our goal, we could lay out a plan and pace ourselves to make it happen.
On the flip side, you also need to imagine a Bad Friday. What if, for instance, my team turned on the billing system and it broke our app, disconnecting service for our users? That would not only lead to a Bad Friday, but ruin our weekend and set us back for the upcoming week. This scenario helps us prioritize our quality assurance process as a vital part of the plan to set ourselves up for a Good Friday.
Of course, challenges may arise through the week, so it’s important to make a realistic list and set clear goals for the week, allowing for flexibility in the event that things don’t go as planned.
2. Stick to the plan.
Now that you have a plan, stick with it. Start each morning with a team huddle. Discuss your goals for the day and what each individual will be focusing on, in a quick 10-minute meeting. Toward the end of the day, hold an evening check-in to review the day's progress. This will give you the insight you need to know if you’re on track, or else need to pivot the plan for tomorrow.
3. Create a productive environment.
Research has shown that music has a great effect on productivity in the workplace. With benefits such as making repetitive tasks more tolerable and helping to create an escape in a busy environment, playing music on Friday is an excellent way to improve the day. One study found that people who listened to music while working were able to complete tasks more quickly and come up with better ideas, because the music improved their overall mood. When you’re in a good mood, you are able to think better than in a negative mindset.
If you’re wondering what the best music to listen to while working is, a considerable amount of research has been conducted on this question, too. Generally speaking, instrumental, upbeat music without lyrics, played at a medium volume, helps you focus the best. If music isn’t your thing, ambient sounds, especially those found in nature, have also been found to boost productivity.
4. Encourage your team to rest.
If you think that taking time for a solid night of sleep is counterproductive to getting things done, think again! Sleep is extremely important for productivity. Even moderate sleep deprivation can have impairment effects similar to alcohol intoxication. Deprivation slows your ability to process information and solve problems creatively, and can lead to elevated stress levels. Many of today’s most successful leaders, like Arianna Huffington and Jeff Bezos, are advocates for getting a full night of sleep.
Keep this in mind when you’re setting your goals for the week. If your team is starting to look beat by the end of the week due to working long hours into the night, you may be setting unattainable goals. A tired team will only create more liabilities for you in the future.
5. Have an incredible week and a Good Friday.
Simply setting the intention on Monday and honoring that intention by accomplishing your goals by the end of the week will generate a Good Friday. So, stick to your plan, and check in with your team daily to stay on track. If you want the most from your team, create an environment conducive to productivity, which means making sure the team stays focused and healthy.
Friday should be a day for polishing and completing everything on your list, closing up the week instead of starting conversations. Consider declaring Friday a “no meetings” day. Several companies have put similar policies in place to boost workplace productivity, including Asana, which has a strict “No Meeting Wednesday” policy.
Asana explains, “The high level goal of No Meeting Wednesday is to ensure that everyone gets a large block of time each week to do focused, heads-down work.” Delegate your own Fridays to tying up loose ends and cleaning your plate in preparation for Monday. And, hey, if you've accomplished everything on your list, take a little time to celebrate with your team! A good week deserves some recognition.
Bad Fridays happen.
Alas, not all Fridays are within our complete control. There will be some weeks where things go wrong, stakeholders get upset, team members get sick, etc. Enter Good Weekends! When your Good Fridays aren’t so good, surround yourself with friends, beautiful scenery and libations. Relax and let the week roll off your back so you can prep for Monday and make it a better week than the last.