It’s 3 PM on Friday, and you’re out of juice. The clock is ticking slowly (tick…tick…….tick), and you can feel your mind drifting, and your productivity flagging. Suddenly a quick pop over to check the news has turned into forty-five minutes of internetting, and you just can’t pull yourself back.
It’s official: you’ve got Friday Brain.
“Friday Brain” isn’t a real medical diagnosis (Obviously. Come on.), but it’s a condition we all know too well. Whether it’s due to fatigue, stress, or clicking into weekend mode a day too early, getting – and staying – productive at the end of the week is a challenge many of us have a hard time overcoming. And it makes sense; it’s been a long week, and almost to a person we’re looking forward more to the start of the weekend than the completion of the task.
The key, then, to keeping your head above water and your hands off your distract-o-matic smartphone is to figure out ways to stay on task.. And while worrying about task management to get you through the last 20% of your workweek isn’t probably the most efficient use of your time, it’s worth it in the end. Powering through your Friday lets you enjoy your weekend in peace without work looming over your head – and, more importantly, you can hack your schedule to take advantage of your Friday Brain.
Let’s find out.
Plan Your Week In Advance
Ok. So. This one takes a lot of discipline and advance thought, but you can get around Friday Brain by getting ahead of it to the best of your ability. One of the hallmarks of Friday Brain is an inability to organize and properly prioritize; it’s like, I know I need to be working on that big report but Twitter is right there.
So the key is to remind your stupid Friday Brain that it can’t be trusted to make decisions by making decisions for it. Monday Brain is much smarter. Monday Brain is more prudent. So make Monday Brain Friday Brain’s stern taskmaster by preparing a set schedule to get you through. Set it in stone on your computer’s Calendar app, blocking out time for specific tasks to make sure they get done. Because if I know Friday Brain – and I do – I know that it won’t ever get on task without some outside impetus.
By committing to the work in advance, you’re making yourself accountable and creating a visual reminder of how much you stand to not get done, making the lost productivity a lot less abstract.
Knock Out the Small Stuff
You only have so much Friday Brain, so don’t throw it in to overdrive trying to pull off some major undertaking. If you can, try and cram all the weird, dumpy little things you have to do in the week – the mindless, brainless, minutiae of working in an office, the kind of stuff you can do with Guns ‘n’ Roses blasting from your phone – into a space at the end of the week. This stuff, which so often distracts from real work but still needs to get done, is the chaff and filler you can load up your Friday with for a calm, easy day that’s still productive – and which lets you focus on the stuff that really excites you the rest of the week.
Obviously not every little task can be shunted off to Friday, and odds are something will come up that demands actual cognitive attention, but if you can minimize that as much as you can, you’ll be in good shape.
Get Started on Something Exciting
The flip side of sticking to the small stuff is finding something that will energize you and making it the focal point of the day. One of the other writers here at Hudson Fusion and I will frequently schedule brainstorming and other heavily-collaborative creative work for Friday afternoons to get us through the post-lunch slog; it’s exciting, entertaining, and often incredibly fun. In other words, it’s an activity that fuels us up and passes the time, getting you to the end of the day while re-energizing you for the next week. It’s always great to end the week with something you’re proud of that you enjoyed doing! It increases job satisfaction into the weekend – and right into Monday.
Start Your Workday Earlier
Counterintuitive? Yes. Effective? Definitely! Fun??? Absolutely not.
Sigh. The hardest thing in the morning – any morning – is getting out of bed on time and tromping off to work. So why I am asking you to do it even earlier? Because you’re gonna crap out eventually, so it would behoove you to try and get more done before that happens.
I recommend hitting the sack a little sooner on Thursday night – eleven at night instead of one in the morning – and get up earlier after getting more sleep. You’ll get an extra working hour and be more well-rested, increasing your capacity alongside your cognitive bandwidth.
Good luck, soldier. Friday Brain can be hard to overcome, but taking the time to get ahead of it or put it to good use by taking advantage of its natural distractibility can turn Friday from a slog into, well, less of one.