It’s Friday. You probably don’t feel like working. You just want to go home and start your weekend, but you’re stuck at your desk. So what can you do to make the most of those last few hours in the office?
One thing to avoid if possible is the Friday meeting. Studies have shown that people don’t pay attention on Fridays, so meetings are probably a waste of time anyway. If you’ve got work they’re trying to finish up by the end of the week, meetings just get in the way. The only real exception is an end of week wrap-up where you can quickly review the targets for the week.
Instead, use your time on Fridays productively by switching your focus to other tasks.
Deal with the little jobs
Throughout the week, make a note of all those little tasks you need to get around to “some time”. You know, all the fifteen-minute jobs that aren’t important enough to need doing right now, but rapidly pile up until they become an irritating mountain of backlogged chores. Then do them all on Friday – send a bunch of quick emails, make a few phone calls, or write those notes for your boss. You can easily tear through ten or fifteen items on your to-do list in half a day. That way, you’ll never be more than a week behind, and you’ll soon get a reputation for being someone who gets things done.
Take time for routine maintenance
Maintenance can take many different forms. Perhaps there’s a wobbly table in the break room that needs the legs tightening. Perhaps the coffee machine needs cleaning out, or the old magazines in the conference room need to be thrown away. On the IT front, Friday’s a perfect time to clean your keyboard, get rid of unused desktop icons, empty the trash and run your regular maintenance programs. And don’t forget the benefits of a tidy desk – ditch all the old brochures and used Post-Its, file all the paperwork that’s been dealt with, and straighten up anything that’s left.
Plan next week
Often the best thing you can do on Friday is to make sure that you’re in great shape for Monday morning. Instead of coming in and having to start from scratch, you can get right to work as soon as you arrive. Make a list of your goals for the week, and assign yourself a schedule for completing them. Make a note down anything you’re going to need from anyone else, and drop them a short email right away to let them know what you need and when. That shows that you’re looking ahead and aware of how you fit in with the team.
Work on a personal project
Fridays can often be a good time for doing some background task that’s important to you. Putting in an hour or two every week is only slow progress, but it can often be enough. At one company I worked at, we had a closet full of old computer parts, cables, and other electrical items, but they were such a mess, nobody ever even looked at them. Over the course of about three months, two of us went through and tested every single thing, threw out everything that didn’t work or was obsolete, sold what we didn’t need, and labeled the rest. The result was more storage space and we saved money by being able to use what we had instead of buying new items.
Learn something new
If you really don’t have anything else going on, spend the time learning new skills. Brush up your IT skills, read a management textbook, or practice your graphic design. Half an hour learning the keyboard shortcuts for Word, or understanding how to conditionally format cells in Excel, or create slide transitions in PowerPoint – all these will help you become a better and more productive employee. There are plenty of training videos on sites like Lynda.com, or you can find textbooks at the library or free online. Find out about new technology that could help your business – mobile apps, cloud services, or new gadgets. Look at the latest products and services. If in doubt, read industry news, and find out what’s happening.
If you approach Fridays with the right mindset, you can make them a valuable and important part of your week. Use the time productively to prevent backlogs and problems before they happen, set yourself up for the coming week, and improve your skills.
Isn’t that more useful than goofing off and reading Facebook all afternoon?