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How to take Fridays “off” (and still be insanely productive)

Let’s be honest. For most people, Fridays are a wasted day.

Think of your typical workday on a Friday. It likely involves (quite a bit of) goofing off mixed in with some busy work. You’re mentally checked out and exhausted from the week, and emails start to pile up. Getting quality work done becomes harder and harder.

Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. My typical Friday was an ode to procrastination. I’d start reading about sports and then land on Reddit (and we all know what a time-suck Reddit can be). Then I’d head on over to Facebook and spend a few hours chatting with friends. Before long, it was 2pm, and I hadn’t accomplished anything meaningful.

I knew I had to make a change. As an entrepreneur with multiple businesses, I can’t afford to lose an entire work day to inefficiency or burn out, and I’m sure you can’t either.

The solution I’ve built: Taking Fridays off.

Well, I don’t actually take Fridays off, but Fridays have become such a fun, restorative, and productive day that it feels like I do. And I’d like to show you how it works so that you can make Fridays one of your most productive days too.

It comes down to flipping the way you think about Fridays on its head. Rather than using Fridays for busy work, carve out time for three things you probably don’t do enough of during the week: Learning, connecting, and planning.

Here’s what a typical Friday now looks like for me:


Productivity tips to make the most of your Fridays
Seems simple enough, right? It actually took me a few years to perfect this system. Now I’d like to show you how it works. Let’s dive in to exactly how to restructure your Fridays for success.

Bonus: Start solving problems and getting paid! Discover 30 proven online businesses that you could start this weekend. Click here to claim your copy of the free report

1. Use Fridays for focused learning

Derek Sivers argues that it’s important to set aside blocks of time that are free of busy work (email, project tasks, meetings, and so on) so that you can invest energy in learning, growing, and strategizing for your business.

Yet entrepreneurs are often too overloaded with sales, clients, and pushing projects through to spend enough time on these essential tasks.

Nowadays, the bulk of my Fridays are spent reading. Over the course of the week, as I come across interesting articles, I throw them into Evernote. You can also use apps like Pocket or Feedly to save articles to come back to later.

On Friday I load the articles I’ve saved throughout the week in a browser, go to a cafe, disable my wifi, and start reading. I take notes on what I learn, and I often think about who I know that would also appreciate the article (a great way to add value to your network).

Turning off your internet is key here — the idea is to immerse yourself completely in reading and learning. This allows for what Cal Newport calls deep work, where, rather than hopping between a big project, answering email, and checking your work chat, you devote all your attention to one task at a time.

Focused, uninterrupted work time allows you to absorb complex information and complete tasks more quickly.

2. Use Fridays to nurture valuable connections

Understanding how to network effectively is an invaluable skill. Knowing the right people can open up opportunities you may not have access to otherwise.

But it’s not enough to exchange a few emails with a VIP or say “hi” at an event — you need to build meaningful relationships.

Fridays are a great time to nurture your network. I like to get creative about it. I head over to my local cookie shop, text a few people, and invite them to come hang out. I say something like, “I’ll treat you to the best chocolate chip cookies in Toronto.”

Depending on who shows up, we then spend a few hours chatting about successes, failures, and just getting to know each other.


Make Fridays more productive by networking - Productivity Tips
James Wallace stopped by to chat and eat cookies with me one Friday
There’s a couple reasons this works well on Fridays. First, people are excited for the weekend and tend to be in a more sociable mood. They’re ready to leave the week behind and enjoy themselves. They are also in a relaxed mindset, which opens up opportunities for deeper, more meaningful conversation.

And it’s these face-to-face, casual interactions that truly grow the value of your network.

Because this often becomes a group hangout, I’m able to connect with a lot more people than I would if I just had one-on-one meetings or set up a few individual calls. Consequently, I’ve become known in my local circles as a great resource for meeting interesting and successful people — I’m seen as a hub for networking.

If you aren’t able to organize a group hangout on Fridays, take some time to thank and appreciate people in your network. I tend to tweet the most on Fridays (sharing what I’m reading), and I always compliment the writer, which provides an opportunity for us to connect.

Bonus: Start solving problems and getting paid! Discover 30 proven online businesses that you could start this weekend. Click here to claim your copy of the free report

3. Use Fridays to plan your upcoming week

Tim Ferriss said it best: “What you do is more important than how you do it, and doing something well does not make it important.”

The reality is that most people inflate their ability to plan well. A lot of us simply aren’t that good at it, but planning ahead is essential to success.

I now dedicate at least one hour to planning every Friday afternoon. First, I go through my planning tool (I’m a huge fan of the Productivity Planner) to assess what I accomplished this week and where I fell short. I then use that as a guide to figure out what goals to set for myself for next week. By the time Monday arrives, I already have a map of what the week will look like, and I can hit the ground running.

There are three main reasons planning on Friday afternoons is so effective:

  1. If planning is the last thing you do on Friday, it will be fresh in your mind when you start work on Monday, making you ready to hit the ground running.
  2. The unconscious thought theory asserts that, over the weekend, your brain will continue to work through the problems you mapped out Friday afternoon, even while you are doing other things and not actively thinking about those problems. This means that, come Monday morning, you might find yourself with a few fresh ideas.
  3. The act of reviewing your past week and then planning your upcoming week provides closure so that you can thoroughly enjoy the weekend. The physical act of closing my planning application is a trigger that says “your week is done, now go enjoy your weekend.”

Take back your Fridays

I now always look forward to Fridays — not just because it means the weekend is finally here — but also because it’s the perfect time to learn new things, build deeper relationships, and prepare for the upcoming week.

Before I developed this system, I dreaded Fridays. It was a stopgap to the weekend, and I rarely got anything meaningful done. Since rethinking how I approach Fridays, I’ve used those few hours dedicated to networking to meet in person with over 200 entrepreneurs.

And because of better planning, the weekdays feel less hectic, which allows me to focus on growing my business. Then, when I get back to work on Monday, I come fresh, inspired, and ready to hit the ground running.

Over to you: How do you spend your Fridays? And what’s one lesson you can take away from this article to make your Fridays more productive?

Sol Orwell is the co-founder of the seven-figure business Examine.com. He has started 6 companies over the past fifteen years, and he currently teaches other entrepreneurs how to do the same at www.sjo.com.

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I really like this concept Sol, thanks for sharing. Going to test this out as I’m finding Fridays are less productive for me as well.

PS ” I head over to my local cookie shop” … I think we all know which place that is :p

You sir, have built a delightful Friday.

I already block off networking for that Friday for the same ‘people are chilling anyway’ reason (and have a read/learning/review schedule I’m happy with). But you might have just convinced me to do my planning on Friday instead of Sunday.

Thank you for writing this up.

That’s definetly a different approach and the thing is, like you mentioned, most people do it anyways!

It’s great for one to recognize that Friday’s just can’t be as productive as other days of the week (if you want to maintain quality). I would love to try this out but having to go to school definitely limits me. 😛

Allen

I really like this, I’ll have to work towards implementing it in some capacity. I personally like ending the week strong by spending a few hours checking off as many small tasks as possible–those little things that never seem to get done, but other than that, I like the overall idea of this . I especially appreciate blocking out some time specifically for learning, which is one of those things that always seems to get kicked down the road, somewhere into the future which never really arrives. It seems like a great way to start a Friday by sitting down and learning some new things.

Although I’m not yet an entrepreneur, I can see a LOT of value in modifying my Fridays to review, reflect, and plan for the next week. I’m a full time professor at a local university, and unlike many of my colleagues, I teach a rotation of 10+ courses F2F, online, and blended, so more effectient use of my “free time”, is going to benefit me greatly.
I’ve been implementing some of Ramit’s suggestions (and others) for the past 2 years and am seeing increased returns on my time investments! So thank you for sharing this info, I will definitely be incorporating it into my schedule!

Be well!

Danielle Mayber

Love this! This is a great example of the value of being purposeful. I usually plan my weeks on Sunday evenings, which hasn’t been optimal. I like the idea of blocking out time for planning on Fridays because you really can focus on integrating lessons learned from that week into what you’ll do the next week.

Sounds lovely! I often start my Friday mornings like all weekday mornings by knocking out my biggest priority items before lunch so if all else fails, I know that I’ll have made progress on the things that matter. Then I typically relegate early afternoons to catch up on my reading also. Thanks for sharing and I’d love to try the best cookies in Toronto with you next time I find myself up there.

This is phenomenal! I personally don’t have my own business, but I can apply these philosophies to my sales career to be more purposeful with my Fridays and build the connections that I’ve been neglecting.

Great article, Sol. I love the idea of setting aside some time to hangout, and then just hanging out with whoever else is free during that time. Seems like a great way to introduce people to one another, too.

I also love the idea about Tweeting the authors of books that you love. It helps everyone with zero downside.

Roman Walther

Hi Sol,
thanks so much for this article. I definitely can see myself in a similar situation of wasting time on Friday – so I really like the idea you sketched out. I will definitely try it and see if it has a similar and positive effect like you experienced.

I also like the idea of dedicating the days in the week certain topics e.g. Mo for strategy, Tu for networking, We for product development, … so Fr would be for learning!

Alixandrea

I really like the concept that your brain continues working on the problems over the weekend to give you better solutions come Monday. Most people who recommend planning say to do it on a Sunday, but I think you’re right that doing it on a Friday is a much better idea.

I don’t entirely get why I love this article so freaking much and find it so exciting, but I do! I like the way you’ve created time for things I want to do but often feel guilty for doing when there are other high-priority tasks needing to get done. And you put these practices on a day that is perfect for doing them. It creates closure and that weekend feeling that we all look forward to.

I also love that you laid it out for us weak planners in a way that is easy and makes sense. I struggle a lot with getting my weekly planning done in a timely fashion, but it suddenly feels 100% doable. So that’s my first action step takeaway–set aside my Friday afternoon for weekly planning. Done. Thanks!

Your Fridays sound like my Mondays.

(I have a theory that there are people who can ramp up more quickly than they can ramp down, and others who can ramp down more quickly than they can ramp up.

I’m the latter. I have to ease myself gently into the week. On Monday, I have to gently coac and bribe myself with pleasant, reflective tasks to be able to work at all. By Friday, I’m a steely-eyed badass, able to churn out the detail-oriented work and check boxes like a steely-eyed badass, knowing that the weekend is ahead. I am gentle with myself on Mondays, knowing my Friday-self can save the week.)

Wow quite insightful, never thought about this. I’m gonna approach Friday’s like this now!

Thanks Paul Milano for linking me to this article!

Matt Veeneechei

Great article, definitely going to try this out for my upcoming semester and see how it goes.

These are great suggestions. I like the idea of meaningful connections on Friday rather than flipping through different social media platforms.

Will try these out.

Thanks Cal

Really enjoyed the article. In the colourful day-plan image, what app is that?

Virginia Reeves

Sol: I like the blocking off time for reading items of interest because you will truly focus on them. Then, you can create value for others by forwarding or sharing doing your networking time. So smart.

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