Thursday, May 6, 2010

Handling the Friday Freak Outs

Christina over at SFACG recently blogged about her hectic Fridays. I read her post while sitting in an airport, and I had to share some advice with her. This totally used to be me.

Last Friday afternoon, as I tidied up my desk, moved all the outstanding items to my Monday "to do" list and closed my Outlook, I realized I have done a pretty good job conquering the Friday freak out. Further encouraged by a coworker's compliment, maybe I have some advice to share here. Maybe there are more readers out there that find themselves overwhelmed with a week's worth of work on Friday afternoon.

Here are some of my weekday work habits to help avoid the Friday Freak Out!

1) Eat the Frog. This is the 2nd best advice my manager has ever given me. The best doesn't relate here. Eat the frog. It's quite simple, do the item you least want to do, first. By getting it out of the way, you'll  be motivated to get the rest of your list done, and it won't be lingering in the back of your mind, distracting you- "I really need to do..." Simple Truths explains it much better than I can.

I can't find the original source for this gross picture, but it proves the point. “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” 
— Mark Twain

2) Prioritize. Look at your 'to do' list each morning. Physically circle or mentally note the top 2 items that you must get done. Then, do them and don't let yourself get distracted until they're complete. This leads to 3.

3) Schedule work time. If you must, block time on your own calendar, so colleagues can not schedule meetings and use that time to get your 'must do' work done. Forward your phone to voicemail and turn off your email notifications to remove the temptation to look at new messages coming in. This is your time to work.

4) Conquer your inbox. Better yet, take an email or work management course. I highly recommend David Allen's "Getting Things Done". Do you manage your email, or does it manage you? We have a joke around our company that we're email managers. In other words, we have so much information coming into our inboxes, it's hard to accomplish anything else. Maybe you're in a similar situation; you could spend an entire day in the office, doing nothing but email. But, what are you actually getting done? Everyone has different strategies and preferences, so take some courses or check out a book and see what works for you, then do it! It will be the best investment you make in personal time management.

5) Declutter. This is kind of related to the above. Despite what my coworkers would tell you and what my office looks like, I try very hard to 'declutter'. I try to get rid of the piles. Putting them away, even in a "To File" folder or tossing them in the recycling if they're outdated rids me of both physical and mental clutter. I enter handwritten phone messages into my Tasks @CALLS category. And before leaving each day, I try to capture all the lingering items floating around in my head into the appropriate categories. You can see how important Outlook Tasks are in my strategy, but if you're a notebook-person, that works too.

Again, these are just the thing I do to try to stay focused and stay on track during the week. What works best for you may be quite different, but the important thing is to find a strategy that works. Put it to the test and follow it. Just like exercise, if you stick with it and make it a habit, you'll feel much better. I guarantee your personal life will also benefit due to less work-related stress.

1 comment:

  1. These are great how-tos. You might also find these Email Best Practices useful for making your time management even more effective.

    Hope it helps and good luck staying organized!
    Microsoft Office Outreach