Maximize your productivity

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By Teri Grant

This article will take ~6 minutes to read.


How do you feel on Friday afternoon? Energized and relaxed – or like you need a two-day vacation just to make it through next Monday? Here are a few simple, effective ways to finish your week feeling strong, not feeling exhausted.


Carve out time to plan ahead

Have you ever heard the advice that if you write it down, then you can stop worrying about it? It’s a great way to get to sleep at night without all those nagging little to-dos weighing on your mind – but did you know that it is also a phenomenal way to end the week?

This process is different than simply writing a to-do list. A to-do list is a collection of tasks; this exercise is a holistic overview of all that you know that lies ahead for the week, some of which just doesn’t fit in the narrower parameters of a to-do list. You are not operationalizing the ‘how’ at this stage of reflection, as a to-do list would. Instead, your goal here is to think of all the ‘whats’, big and small, that might come up next week.

Schedule yourself about 30 minutes on Friday, preferably at the end of the day, to intentionally take stock of your current state. Here are a few valuable questions to ask yourself:


Looking Back – evaluate your productivity:

  • What have I accomplished this week?
  • Did I do what I set out to do?
  • Is there anything that I could have done better that I could learn from?


Looking Forward – set your goals and intentions:

  • What are my goals for next week? (think both big and small)
  • How do I want to start my day on Monday? (be clever – design something that you will be excited about on Sunday night)


Now write it all down, especially ‘Looking Forward’. By taking those few minutes to write down everything you can think of about what’s ahead for next week, you will automatically free up those parts of your brain that would otherwise be focusing on it.


If you are able to identify any tasks that should also be added to your to-do list, transfer them over to the to-do list once you’ve finished intentionally reflecting. Use the Quadrant To-Do List to effectively curate your tasks.

Over time, you should be noticing trends of increasing productivity – but this takes time! Be patient with yourself if you have some weeks where you feel like you haven’t accomplished much. Life happens; it’s about how we respond and plan for the week to come that will make a positive change that compounds over time


Choose your work carefully

What you work on at the very end of the week will be your last memory of your time at the office until you begin work again on Monday. By carefully choosing what that thing will be, you can create a feeling of productivity and accomplishment that carries over to the weekend, even if your week was filled with stressful moments or disappointments.

One thing you can do is to clear your email inbox. If you have outstanding emails to reply to, add them to your to-do list and file those emails in the appropriate folders. Do NOT leave your emails lingering as a second to-do list.


Leave one thing unfinished

Ernest Hemingway would leave his day’s writing unfinished, with one last thought yet to be fully expressed in prose. He did this so that when he sat down again to write the next morning, he would have a clear starting place that was bolstered by the momentum of the previous day.

Is there one thing that you could take almost to the finish line so that you have an easy and immediate win first thing on Monday morning?


Last look at your desk

When you’ve got your coat or your fancy sun hat on and you’re ready to head out for the day, what kind of desk to you want to glance back at when you waltz out the door? Remember, the goal here is to create amazing feelings right at the end of the day.

Amazing could mean a completely clear desk, freshly wiped down. It could mean a fresh to-do list written out sitting next to your computer. It could be a clean, empty mug to remind yourself to drink water when you come in on Monday morning. Whatever your amazing desk looks like, take a few minutes and make it happen. Your future self will be pretty darn stoked that you did.


A quick summary of how to finish the week feeling amazing:

1. Carve out time to plan ahead

  • Look back at the week, and look forward to the next. Think big and small, and be intentional.

2. Leave one thing unfinished

  • Set yourself up for an easy win right away on Monday morning.

3. Last look at your desk

  • Whatever your amazing desk looks like, give a gift to your future self and make it happen before you leave.


Make it happen:

How does your Friday feel right now? Is there one thing you could try this week that will make a difference for the weekend, and for how you feel on Monday morning? Don’t wait – try it out! Then keep building on it for the weeks to come.