How you end your workweek will not only have a huge impact on how productive you are the following week, but also may determine how relaxed you are over the weekend.
"Successful people tend to adhere to routines in general, so it's no surprise that the most successful people I know maintain a Friday afternoon routine," says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "You Can't Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work."
Here are 10 things successful people typically do on a Friday afternoon:
1. They reflect on their accomplishments from the week. It's far too easy to wallow over what you didn't accomplish, Kerr says. "Successful people tend to flip that around and remind themselves of just how much progress they did make, even if it's only 'small wins.'" Acknowledging and appreciating your accomplishments not only boosts your happiness levels, but it fuels momentum. "A great ritual for team leaders to create is to turn this into a Friday afternoon team huddle tradition, wherein everyone shares their top three accomplishments for the week," Kerr suggests.
2. They figure out their priorities for the following week. Successful people take time on Friday afternoon to reflect on their professional and personal lives and determine three to five major priorities they want to accomplish for each, says Laura Vanderkam, author of "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast."
3. They establish a schedule and to-do list for the following week. They don't just prioritize; they plan, Vanderkam says. "If you assign each priority a deadline, things are likely to get done. You want to hit Monday morning knowing what you need to do, so you're not wasting that time figuring this out." Having a plan for Monday also results in a more relaxed weekend, she adds. "Your to-do list won't be nagging at your brain for two days."
4. They carve out downtime for the following week. Kerr says driven, successful people can easily fall into the workaholic trap and lose sight of "the long game," but they always prioritize and plan for downtime. "They think about how they can maintain their work-life balance the following week. They understand that for them to be at their best, to be most productive, and to accomplish everything they need to during the following week, they need to have some free time."
5. They get organized. "Many successful people I know take 15 to 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to clean out and organize their email files and to clean and organize their office, so that they know they are returning to a fresh, organized start the following week," Kerr says. "Some find it therapeutic, as it can help clear the psychological clutter as well, and it has become a ritualistic way of capping the end of the week."
6. They let people know how accessible they'll be that weekend. Successful people set technology ground rules before leaving, both with themselves and key people around them, Kerr says. They let their staff and coworkers know whether they plan to respond to emails or voice mails over the weekend, and if so, when.
7. They think about their weekend plans. Vanderkam says if you don't already have weekend plans by Friday afternoon, you should take some time to think about what you'd like to do. Perhaps you've been dying to try that new restaurant; you really want to spend time with your kids at the park; or you have errands you've been putting off. Take a few minutes, before it's too late, to make reservations, check the weather, find a babysitter, etc.
"You don't have to plan every minute, but having a few things you know you'll enjoy means you're ready for a weekend of real rejuvenation," she says.
8. They plan a fun Friday activity. Some successful people have a fun ritual that helps them create a definitive divide between their workweek and weekend. "It may be an afternoon cocktail with a group of friends, an hour of volunteer work, or a regularly scheduled gym workout or game of tennis," Kerr explains. "What's key is that it be something they look forward to, so they view it as a reward for reaching the end of the week, and that it's something that gives them a complete mental shift."
9. They acknowledge others' accomplishments and hard work. "One leader I know uses Friday afternoons to either phone or drop by employees' offices in person to thank them for the work they did during the week," Kerr says. "She says doing it on Friday afternoon not only helps her employees go home feeling appreciated, happier, and more relaxed, but it also helps her feel better and happier, as well."
10. They say goodbye to people around the office. A simple, "have a nice weekend" can go a long way. "This is especially important for leaders to do, and especially important on a Friday afternoon to give both yourself and the people you work with a sense of closure to the week and a chance to connect, if even briefly, before everyone departs," Kerr says.
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