How to make Fridays less crunched

One of my favorite time management rules is to Plan on Fridays (it is Rule #2 in Tranquility by Tuesday). Anyone with a busy life needs a dedicated weekly planning time. For many people, Friday is a great time to do this. If you are just sliding into the weekend at that point, why not repurpose some of this low-opportunity-cost time for something more productive?

Anyway, one objection I hear is that “Friday isn’t lighter for me! I’m always racing to get things done before the weekend.” The week is scheduled quite tightly, something goes wrong or something new comes up, and Friday becomes a mad dash to get through everything that had to happen within that week.

If Fridays are structurally busy (you work for a weekly publication that ships on Friday afternoons; you see patients every 12 minutes all day on Friday) then that is one thing. But in many cases, committing to doing even a little Friday planning can make Fridays less crunched over time. This happens in a few different ways.

First, Friday planning helps you identify what needs to happen in the next week and what does not. Ideally, once you figure this out, you make time for what does need to happen, and try to minimize time devoted to things that aren’t a big priority. Often people wind up moving that stuff anyway when things get crunched, but if you are going to cancel or reschedule something, it is far more respectful to do so several days ahead of time (i.e. on Friday when you figure it out) than last minute.

Second, Friday planning helps you make more strategic choices — getting ahead on big projects so you are not artificially crunched the day before they are due (and thus punting the regular stuff from those days to Friday afternoon). For instance, you might choose to spend an hour before a 10 a.m. meeting on Wednesday working on something, because you know it would be good to have that hour, rather than losing that hour to random email checks because you don’t know how the hour could be better allocated.

Third, Friday planning gives you a chance to see where you might be able to free up space — which can then absorb any overflow (so the overflow time is not Friday at 5 p.m.).

Finally, Friday planning reminds you about what is coming up, so you don’t forget it and then have to scramble late in the week.

I’m not promising miracles, but if you can find ten minutes to plan on a Friday, you might be able to carve out a little more time the next Friday. After a few weeks of looking forward, choosing, and scheduling, Fridays might be starting to feel more spacious as you better match your work load to the work hours available (or at least you can match the load you have any discretion over to the hours available). Fridays start to feel a bit less crunched over time.

In other news: I started reading through Emma. My requirement is only 5 pages a day since I’m ahead of the game on this year-long Jane Austen project, but I have pretty easily managed to read 10 pages a day since starting.

I also finished the next draft of my novel! This winter, I created a new chapter outline from the old manuscript, and then every week since then I have edited 0-3 chapters, based on what time will be available. I finished the last chapters this week so now the draft exists. I set the schedule to finish by Memorial Day, and now I have. I’ll go through the draft a few more times to clean things up, then hopefully achieve something workable at the writing retreat I plan to take in mid-summer. It’s always gratifying when a long-term project actually goes according to schedule. I mean, it should if it’s a rational schedule, but still!

I read (and mostly enjoyed) How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis. Let me know if you read it (and what you thought).

Yesterday, I went to a Special Persons Tea at my son’s preschool. I like the inclusivity of this idea! As I was sitting there in the classroom in those tiny chairs, I remembered being there almost exactly four years ago with my now-8-year-old. I was starting to strongly suspect that kid #5 was on his way. Ah, memories. This year the tables had fruit bouquets (the Edible Arrangement variety) and the kids were so excited because it looked like each bouquet had a donut. So I cut up the donut into five pieces for the five kids at my table and it turned out to be a chocolate covered apple. There was some surprise…


5 thoughts on “How to make Fridays less crunched

  1. I read the K.C. Davis book and really enjoyed it. While some of the challenges she described don’t apply to me, I love that this book exists as a gentle and affirming resource. I also appreciated how quickly I could read through it (and that she even provided a “shortcut” route).

    Some stand-out quotes:
    – When she recommends labeling home responsibilities as care tasks instead of chores because “chores are obligations, care tasks are kindness to self.”
    – “It is no more pretentious to pay someone to clean your home than it is to pay someone to change the oil in your car.” [This sounds like a VERY Laura Vanderkam thing to say!]
    – “Healthy is a holistic state of being that requires more than just knowing the amount and type of nutrients in the food you are eating. Being kind to yourself while eating ice cream is healthier than hating yourself while eating a salad.” [Amen.]

    1. @Elisabeth – I generally enjoyed the book too. And yes, I think I’ve made the point that all of us outsource some things. We tend not to churn our own butter. There’s really nothing different in paying a housekeeper, or outsourcing food prep, or anything along those lines. It is all a matter of degree.

  2. Hi! I’m glad to read that you gave KC’s book a read as when I listened to your interview with her, I found some of your responses quite minimizing of the very real challenges that managing mental health issues/neurodiversity/physical limitations pose to completing seemingly straightforward daily care tasks. I appreciate that you read her book even if not fully on board with her messaging.

    1. @Ana – thanks for the comment! I’ve never interviewed KC Davis before so I’m not sure which interview you might have heard? We’ve had a few different podcast guests talking about organizing and home systems. I agree that it can be a challenge if there are neurological differences or any condition that makes executive functioning more challenging. Simple systems (and a lot of grace) are often the way to go…

      1. Hi Laura, oh geez! My memory failed me. I think I’m thinking of your interview with Dana K. White.

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