The prospect of two days of rest (or more on Bank Holiday weekends) leads lots of people to abandon their most important tasks on a Friday. It’s true that after a long week of hard work, who wouldn’t be tempted to clear their heads and only deal with peripheral projects? Except that this makes returning to work on Monday morning more of a chore.

What with the new tasks that await you and the ones you haven’t finished yet, you risk being overworked and becoming stressed. So you need to use your Friday to prepare for the week ahead. Then, as well as leaving the office with peace of mind and spending a relaxing few days at home, you’ll be giving yourself a less painful week when you return. Read our advice on the tasks to complete before the weekend.

Wrap up the important jobs

We know you want to wind down after a hectic week, but instead of visiting various websites to distract yourself on a Friday afternoon, wouldn’t it be better to finish those urgent tasks? That way, your Monday morning will be much more relaxed.
After all, there’s nothing more stressful than starting a new week with a big obstacle to clear. First, you’ll be dragging your feet while you get back in the swing of things. Then, the ensuing pressure may ruin your good mood and decrease your motivation for the rest of the week. So to avoid this situation, you need to stop procrastinating.

Make a to-do list

This is the mantra of many professionals. If you’re not one of those people who jot down the things you have to do in black and white, it’s time for you to start, so you can better organise your week ahead. Use simple post-its in different colours to show the importance and priority of the tasks that await you in the following week. For the tech-savvy, there are several websites and apps for this, so that electronic to-do list will be available on your smartphone, with the option of setting reminders to notify you in good time, creating recurring events, etc. That way, you easily save precious minutes, or even hours, on Monday morning.

Make a provisional schedule

To reduce stress levels on Monday morning, make a schedule of your tasks for each day of the week – and don’t schedule any heavy tasks for Monday morning. If you have meetings or conference calls, schedule them for the middle of the week (Wednesday or Thursday). That way, you’ll have time to prepare for them, down to the last detail. Also, if you have a meeting or seminar planned during the week, you won’t be running between your desk and the meeting room to finish off work.

In an ideal world, everything will go as planned, but that doesn’t take into account any unexpected developments that you may have to deal with, such as the absence of a colleague, your train being late, a situation that requires an urgent response…in reality, things rarely turn out as you imagine, so it’s essential to factor in some flexibility.

Tidy your desk

Think of that mountain of papers piling up on your desk, food wrappers in the drawers, and those receipts and tickets from your last work trip to London or Manchester, that have taken refuge in the bottom of your bag. You don’t want to spend the first half hour of your week tidying, so:
• File away all your documents
• Tidy away those relating to completed projects
• Sort your paperwork (like the post-its around your computer screen), post (that you’ve never opened), invoices, etc.
• Throw any useless documents into the recycling bin.

Clear your computer

Ah, yes – our offices are becoming more paperless. Less printing and more digital presentations, e-mailed quotes, and so on. That’s good for the rainforests – but now, the files are accumulating on our computer desktops. So before leaving for the weekend, get into the habit of running a program that “cleans up” your computer and deletes useless data (temporary files, recycling bin, cache and cookies, etc.).
Not only do you avoid accumulating files and folders that you risk losing sight of, but you’re looking after your computer too. This means that it will start up more quickly, work more smoothly every day, have fewer crashes – and on Monday, you can boot up your fresh, clean PC! This is important, as it has a real impact on your productivity.

Which tasks are important and which are urgent?

There is a considerable difference between what is important and what is urgent. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” So, if you can’t wriggle out of an urgent situation, you have to deal with it immediately; it’s a critical situation.

When we talk about important tasks, it actually refers to tasks that you consider to be important. It’s you who evaluates the priority of one task in relation to another. To do this, you’re going to have to judge them on their respective added value.
If you apply this method, the important tasks to do before the weekend will become clear. The trick in making the right choice is to be aware of the impact of each project. Intrigued by this approach? Then find out more about the famous Eisenhower Matrix.

Your aim: to start the weekend care-free and return to work revitalised

Don’t see these tips as a list of additional chores, as nothing could be further from the truth! The idea is rather to instil good habits that don’t take up too much time, but which will help free you from certain burdens that you shouldn’t be carrying on your days off. After all, that would be counter-productive! These techniques can also be used in any sector or industry; you just have to adapt them sensibly. When you accomplish important tasks on Friday, you can leave work with a clear head, and return to the office on Monday feeling cool, calm and collected. That way, there’ll be no nasty surprises!