Now that the Summer Solstice is upon us, the season is officially in full spring. With cold weather well in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take advantage of the warm, sunny afternoons. Whether you’ve been saving up your vacation hours to cut a few Friday afternoons short or you have bosses cool enough to let the whole team sneak out a little early (thanks Sabina & Monica!), Summer Fridays are a great time to get an early start on the weekend. They’re a perfect opportunity to hit the road for a weekend road trip or to take advantage of the warm weather with an al fresco happy hour. But just because you get to shave a few hours off at the end of the week doesn’t mean your to-do list is going to get any shorter. If you want to take advantage of everything a Summer Friday has to offer, you have to plan in advance to make sure you can enjoy it stress-free.
- Plan Ahead. While already starting to think about the weekend on a Monday may be a dangerous proposition, it’s important to plan in advance if you want to keep your Friday afternoons stress-free. Anticipate the tasks and action items that will be due by the end of the week and build in time to wrap them up on Wednesday and Thursday so you don’t backload your week. If you schedule time for the big stuff in advance, you can make the end of the week a breeze.
- Make It a Team Effort. For those that work in a collaborative team environment, it’s not enough to just plan your own tasks in advance. Work with your managers and direct reports to prioritize the group activities you share and make sure no one has to pick up the Friday slack. This is a good way to think about your week throughout the year, but especially important when you have the beach on your mind.
- Start Friday on a Productive Note. To make sure you’re not sweating it out at the end of the day, try to do your heavy lifting first thing Monday morning. Take a look at the plan you created on Monday, see what’s left to do and knock out the most challenging remaining items first. If you get your to-do list down to a few minor tasks by the time the afternoon rolls around, you can wrap up quickly or even push a few low-priority tasks to Monday.
- Skip Lunch. Keep your momentum going and save your relaxation time for the weekend. Bring some light snacks to munch on while you’re working instead of taking a full break for a bigger meal. The more time you spend on productive tasks in the morning and early afternoon, the easier it’ll be to step away early.