By Nathalie Marquez Courtney
If you’re sick of ending the week with a guilty feeling and walking away from a to-do list that has more tasks than ticks, then Focus Fridays could be for you.
Trialled at tech companies like Slack and Google, Focus Fridays can be a great way to turbo-charge your ability to do deep, meaningful work.
There’s little doubt that Friday is considered a bit of a dud, productivity-wise, with the numbers backing this up.
But what if all these factors actually make Fridays a low-hanging fruit when it comes to optimising productivity? With a few clever tweaks, Friday could go from being your least productive day to your most impactful.
What is a focus day?
Simply put, on a focus day you prioritise your core tasks. That means meetings, IM chats and inbox firefighting get bounced for the day (or three to five hours if that’s all you can spare) and you prioritise making headway towards your big objectives.
A quick sync here, a brief chat there, a rushed reply before you run out the door: all of these small intrusions add up and have a big impact on your ability to concentrate and get things done.
Managing interruptions is important because they are on the rise. In one recent study, 66 per cent of one-on-one meetings in 2022 were unscheduled, compared to just 17 per cent in 2020.
Creating processes that allow uninterrupted work to happen is going to be key if we are to succeed in a digital-first environment.
According to a survey of over 10,000 workers, burnout rose to 40 per cent this quarter globally. The middle three days of the work-week tend to be the most popular for meetings, decision-making and brainstorming. But this can often mean you’re playing catch up on Fridays, pin-balling between unscheduled meetings, trying to make progress on your tasks, and inevitably feeling behind.
A good Focus Friday strategy could help you not just tick off the tasks, but truly embrace the weekend break that follows, making your time away from work genuinely restful and restorative.
How to find your flow on Focus Friday
Set yourself up for success with these Focus Friday tips:
1) Start the night before
The evening before (or at the end of your previous workday) take five minutes to jot down three key things you want to accomplish on your Focus Friday.
Having these goals on your desk means you can get started on them stuck into them right away; no need to check emails or instant messages and allow other people’s priorities to derail your own.
2) Communicate – then close everything down
If Focus Friday isn’t a company-wide policy, make sure your colleagues are aware of your plans. Block off the time on your calendar and update your status.
Set an out-of-office message if you have to. Then, make sure to block notifications, and, if possible, put your phone in another room (phones have been shown to be a distraction even when you’re not using them).
3) Factor in breaks
To make sure your focus day lasts beyond the first morning burst of productivity, it’s important to build in breaks.
Whether that’s a Pomodoro-style approach (25-minute stretches of focused work broken by five-minute breaks) or even an hourly snack, tea or coffee break, you will create a much more sustainable focus habit this way than if you try to simply power through.
Ready to spend your Fridays on work worth focusing on? The Euronews Job Board is packed with exciting opportunities, like the three below.
Senior Consultant, ICF, Brussels
Consultancy firm ICF is seeking a Senior Consultant to join its European Climate Action team. Your work here will help companies achieve net zero emissions targets and better plan and execute their low carbon transition across Europe, Asia and North America. A background in climate change action, diplomacy and international cooperation is key. If this sounds like a good fit, find all the details here.
Operations and IT Coordinator, EBA Clearing, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt
EBA Clearing, provider of pan-European payment infrastructure solutions, is looking for Operations And IT Coordinators in Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt. You will need a Master’s in an IT-related field, knowledge of scripting or programming languages such as PowerShell, Python and Visual Basic, as well as experience managing physical and virtual IT infrastructure, such as MS Windows and Azure. Discover more about the role here.
AI Developer, ABN AMRO, Amsterdam
As an AI Developer at Dutch bank ABN AMRO, you will join a passionate team working at the forefront of the financial services industry and developing innovative AI designs and solutions. Strong machine learning, system design and coding skills are a must, as well as a curious and entrepreneurial spirit. Get all the details here.