6 Tips for More Productive Fridays

Friday office attendance is way down, but ambitious workers see it as a “slow day” they can use to get ahead.

Most people, it seems, don’t want to work much on Fridays. Many of us look for any excuse to log off as quickly as possible without angering the boss. When we work on Fridays, we are often sloppy. A recent study from Texas A&M University found that workers are far less productive on Friday afternoons, and make many more typos, than on any other workday.

On the other hand, experts say, the right mindset can turn Friday into the most important day of the week for advancing your career. As the workday that typically features the fewest meetings, Friday can offer you undistracted time to brainstorm, plow through assignments, and other productive work. Here are six steps our experts suggest for maximizing your Friday productivity:

On Monday, set clear ideas about what will make for a productive week.

Figuring out how to make Friday productive actually starts four days earlier. Start the week by writing down what tasks you need to accomplish by the end of the week. Be specific. Consider sharing the list with colleagues or your supervisor to hold yourself accountable. This adviser can also advise you on whether your list is too ambitious, or not ambitious enough.

At the end of each day, check off what you’ve completed. Dedicate yourself to wrapping up—by Friday—everything on the list that’s unchecked. You find that you’ve either freed yourself to use Friday for other projects, or that you have the whole day to knock off the last open tasks.

Let tech help.

“Technology was supposed to create a world where people work less and enjoy more leisure, yet for most people, it has just created more work,” says Korn Ferry Advance career and leadership coach Val Olson. But technology can in fact help you take control of your Friday productivity. Indeed, a simple calendar tool is one of the most effective ways to manage your time. Using a calendar program or project-management tool, mark off time on Friday to devote to completing tasks—as well as buffers, just in case some tasks run long.

This style of working, called “batching,” can make it easier to avoid daydreaming or being distracted by other projects, both of which can be Friday productivity killers.

Make Friday the “low-stress” work day.

Filing expense reports. Adding up billable hours. Reviewing or updating weekly reports. Most jobs involve unglamorous work that doesn’t require creative thinking, but still has to be done.

Devoting a block of Friday to so-called “work admin” time allows you to knock out essential tasks so they don’t hang over you the following week.

Turn Friday into “Training Day.”

Want to learn a new programming language? Need to complete a certification course for work? Carve out time on Fridays for career growth. Many people take off early on Fridays, particularly in the summer, which potentially means fewer distractions in the office. “Assuming you have no weekend plans, Fridays are sometimes the best times to get in professional development and training,” says Sharon Egilinsky, a partner in Korn Ferry’s Organizational Strategy practice.

Arrange informal small meetings.

Under names such as “Flow Friday,” some companies are banning non-essential Friday meetings. Many bosses have figured out that no one (themselves included) likes to sit through a major meeting at the end of the workweek.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use Friday for one-on-one get-togethers with colleagues you might not speak with frequently. Discussing important work topics with a variety of people can improve your organizational awareness—a key trait of emotional intelligence. You might discover ways you can help to make your colleague’s work life easier, or vice versa. These informal chats are also a great time to network and ask for career advice.  

Start a little earlier.

Beginning work earlier on Friday morning is an acknowledgement that your energy might be waning by Friday afternoon. You can maximize it by starting work an hour or two earlier on Friday.

You might even be able to stipulate this arrangement officially with your boss, says Mark Royal, senior client partner at Korn Ferry Advisory. Deliver superior performance during the week, including Friday mornings, and you’ll get to take off Friday afternoon for errands or nonwork appointments, or to start the weekend. 


For more career advice, connect with a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.