This Friday Checklist Will Boost Your Monday AM Productivity (Yes, Really!)

Do future you a favor.

By Isabelle Eyman

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Fridays. Of course, there’s the knowing comfort that we’re just a few short hours away from the weekend, but with that comes the pressure to get it all done. In the hopes of leaving Saturday and Sunday open for connection, rest, and rejuvenation, we might cram all our tasks and to-dos into a single day. Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-true work productivity tips that I’ve found help set my Monday self up for success—without making Friday the most stressful day of my week.

Because let’s be real: When Friday rolls around, we’re all ready for a much-needed break, and we might mentally sign off before thinking ahead. Below, I’m diving into the steps I take to proactively prepare for Monday so the start of my week isn’t a hectic mess. Here’s how to wrap up your Friday with your future Monday self in mind..

Featured image by Riley Reed

7 Work Productivity Tips That’ll Make Monday Less of a Mess

1. Clean up Your Inbox

Most of us have come to associate Monday mornings with the inevitable onslaught of endless emails. For me, opening my computer to an abundance of unread messages is a quick recipe for overwhelm—and it might feel like you’re already behind before the week has even begun. And while “getting ahead” might feel like a losing battle, taking some time at the end of Friday’s workday to address and tie up any loose inbox ends can make Monday’s rush feel like a lot less of a whirlwind.

If you experience email anxiety like me (and many others), try scheduling 30-45 minutes on Friday afternoon dedicated solely to tackling your inbox. I started doing this a few months ago, and let me tell you, the ability to slowly sip my coffee at my desk on Monday morning—minus a barrage of emails—is well worth the minimal effort. (Psst… if you want to learn how Camille cut her email time in half, read this.)

2. Know Your Calendar

To be clear, this doesn’t mean memorizing the exact days and times of the following week’s meetings. Instead, this tip is intended to help keep your meetings from catching you off guard. Set aside a few minutes (I’ve found that this only takes 10-20, depending on my schedule) and open up your Google calendar or planner to remind yourself of what next week looks like.

Do you have an 8 a.m. meeting Monday morning? (Evil). Is Thursday packed back-to-back with team huddles and touch bases? Do you need to prepare for a meeting on Wednesday with your supervisor? It’s not only satisfying but can be a boost for your confidence in knowing what to expect come Monday morning. What’s more, this has been key to keeping my Sunday Scaries at bay. Remember: Knowledge (and prep!) is power.

modern office space with plants_
Image by Hannah Haston

3. Tidy Up Your Desk

Every variation on the quote clean your space, clear your mind is absolutely true. If you’ve ever tried being productive amidst the chaos of a cluttered desk, then you know very well just how impossible it is. And, if you work from home like me, then the threat of a pile of dirty laundry, scattered papers, or a sink full of dirty dishes can set you off task in an instant.

The easiest way to combat these energy-sucking distractions? Schedule a weekly workspace clean-up! Could your computer screen use a good wipe-down? Are there crumbs on your rug from succumbing to a sad desk lunch? Is there a pile of clothes that could use folding and put back in their proper home?

Once your space is clear and sparkling, take it as an opportunity to fill it with things that bring you joy. Maybe that’s writing out an inspiring quote and taping it to your desk. Or, finding a new desktop background. Even placing a sweet-smelling, seasonal candle next to your keyboard and draping your chair with a cozy blanket can make work all the more enjoyable. There’s nothing better than returning to your desk with everything in its place—and it can make jumping into Monday’s tasks feel like a breeze.

4. Schedule Something to Look Forward To

I’ve found that my days are a million times more enjoyable if I have something to look forward to. While I absolutely advocate for embracing the present moment, knowing that I have a fun trip planned or tickets to a movie I’ve been dying to see or a reservation booked for my favorite restaurant can do a world of good in terms of keeping my spirits high.

When you’re looking at the next week’s calendar, be sure to weave in one or two fun and inspiring plans. Maybe that’s setting up a lunch with a coworker you’d like to get to know better or signing up for a webinar on a topic or skill you’d like to master. And of course, because filling your schedule to the brim can be a source of stress itself, how about booking a couple of nights with no after-work plans at all? A good book, a movie, and a healthy, comforting dinner can be enough to look forward to themselves.

Catt Sadler working at desk
Image by Michelle Nash

5. Do a Weekly Recap

I’m a person who loves to reflect—it’s just my nature. Nostalgia helps me romanticize my life and diving into the past helps me experience gratitude for all the good there is in my life. I’ve found too, that by scheduling a consistent time to look back on my goals and accomplishments over the past week, I can feel proud of all the past few days have brought—and the steps I’ve taken to where I am today.

I do this one of two ways. Sometimes, I like sitting at my desk with my notebook, journaling for a few minutes about my wins and the week’s learning opportunities. Or, if I’m craving a little time outside, I like to take a walk to reset my headspace and mentally reflect on my Monday through Friday. Having these few short minutes helps you build a clearer picture of where you are in your tasks and how you’re progressing toward your goals. And with that strong foundation set, the path forward becomes all the easier to pursue.

6. Set New Goals for Next Week

Once you’ve done your weekly recap, this is a perfect time to set a few goals starting the following Monday. While you might be tempted to make a long list of all you need to accomplish next week, I encourage you to keep it short and sweet. To give myself direction, I structure this list based on three things:

  1. My long-term personal career goals.
  2. My organization’s big-picture goals.
  3. Completing something that I either haven’t been able to get to or have been putting off.

From there, I write out 3-5 goals. With these guardrails set, I can feel confident that I’m pouring into my career and committing to my value of being a life-long learner. I also know that I’m framing my day-to-day tasks within the bigger picture of my organization’s own goals, and I know that I’m contributing to my coworkers and supervisor’s vision of what we’re creating together. Lastly, by addressing a task that I’ve been putting off, I can trust that it’ll get wrapped up shortly.

laptop on home office desk_work productivity tips
Image by Michelle Nash

7. Remember Your “Why”

You’ve likely heard this tip before. It often comes up in everything from committing to a workout to building a company or carrying out any dream you may have. Personally, I’ve found that it’s one of the best ways to help me maintain direction at work. It’s similar to building your goals for the week, but it’s a shorter exercise that’ll let you reconnect to the reasons you show up each day, week after week (paycheck aside).

Like an affirmation, maybe you write out a single sentence that you return to every week. I like to lean on something that grounds me in my purpose and reminds me why I spend eight hours a day doing what I do. Examples can be:

  • To build a brighter future for the planet.
  • To share my love of learning with children.
  • To inspire people with thoughtful content.
  • To provide customers with a meaningful shopping experience.
  • To keep public spaces clean for everyone’s use.

Of course, your “why” is personal and completely up to you! Try to distill it down to a simple, but far-reaching reason. If I’m getting bogged down by the small daily details of my job, this practice is paramount for redirecting my focus and shifting my intentions back to the larger picture of what really matters.