…and how to avoid it.
I’m sure most of us, at one time or another, have had a very stressful Friday afternoon (or whichever day constitutes the beginning of your “weekend”) rushing around trying to get things done to clear things up for a relaxing few days off. I call this “Friday Afternoon Syndrome” or FAS.
And personally, I avoid this situation like the plague–whenever possible.
Unfortunately when you’ve got coworkers there are times when this isn’t possible. I’ve had many jobs where, usually due to poor planning, I’d be asked to accomplish some task just before I’m getting ready to walk out the door (if I’m lucky) on a Friday eve. In most cases, I’m pretty sure these last minute tasks would be better left until Monday. I know I don’t do my best work rushed, stressed, distracted (thinking about my weekend) and frustrated at the person (even if it’s me) who put me in that situation. Let’s face it, for many of us, for many reasons, Fridays are naturally a bit problematic when it comes to getting things done.
So, I did some thinking and reflecting on some things that have worked for me in the past and I’ve got a few suggestions for a more productive and less stressed Friday. Oh, and a better weekend too!
h3. Plan Better
I think the best way to avoid FAS is to plan better. Simply try and plan well enough so that you, and your coworkers. have enough time to get their weekly tasks done. I know, it’s easier said than done, but it’s something to think about and strive for. If you notice you, or your coworkers, are always rushing on Fridays, or working late, you might take that as a red flag.
h3. Avoid Friday Deadlines
It seems natural to want to put deadlines toward the end of the week. It gives you the illusion that you’ve got more time. In my experience Friday deadlines equals a stressed weekend. I try to put most of my personal deadlines toward the middle of the week. This is when I’m at my most productive and when I don’t mind having to put a little extra effort into getting something done.
As well, if my deadline is Wednesday and I miss it, I’ve got a few days to sort it out before it cuts into my weekend.
h3. Avoid Friday Afternoon Meetings
A technique that I’ve heard (from a little birdy) helps is to plan the next week’s work on Friday afternoon. This not only helps ensure you’ve planned the upcoming week well, you give everyone a chance to decompress and not have to worry about getting out the door as you’re busy planning for next week.
I’ve personally never done it, but my guess if done right, it could be more efficient and more effective than the typical Monday morning meetings I’ve been (yawn) a part of at almost every job I’ve ever had. So, that’s not saying much, and in general I find Friday afternoon work meetings problematic.
I think meetings on Friday can be good if they’re early enough in the day. I find that as Friday wears on it gets harder and harder to focus and we all know that it can be hard to get up for any meeting, let alone a meeting when you are thinking about hitting the road or grabbing a beer or taking care of some personal tasks. An alternative to regular Friday afternoon meetings would be voluntary team building type stuff, like a beer after work or an ice cream social.
h3. Leave Early
At my current job, where FAS is rarely a problem, they’ve got us leaving at 4 instead of 5. I think this helps quite a bit. You know, all week long, that you’ve got one less hour to work with on Friday. This helps (me anyway) to make sure you’ve got things buttoned up on Thursday. It’s also a nice moral booster to know you’ve got one extra hour added to your weekend.
It helps with that ever important work/life balance. I mean, a busy 40 hour work week doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more productive.