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How to take Fridays off (and still be insanely productive)

Let's be honest. For most people, Fridays are a wasted day.

Think of your typical workday on a Friday. It likely involves (quite a bit of) goofing off mixed in with some busy work. You're mentally checked out and exhausted from the week, and e-mails start to pile up. Getting quality work done becomes harder and harder.

Trust me, I'm speaking from experience. My typical Friday was an ode to procrastination. I'd start reading about sports and then land on Reddit (and we all know what a time-suck Reddit can be). Then I'd head on over to Facebook and spend a few hours chatting with friends. Before long, it was 2 p.m., and I hadn't accomplished anything meaningful.

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I knew I had to make a change. As an entrepreneur with multiple businesses, I can't afford to lose an entire work day to inefficiency or burnout, and I'm sure you can't either.

The solution I've built: Taking Fridays off.

Well, I don't actually take Fridays off, but Fridays have become such a fun, restorative, and productive day that it feels like I do. And I'd like to show you how it works so that you can make Fridays one of your most productive days, too.

It comes down to flipping the way you think about Fridays on its head. Rather than using Fridays for busy work, carve out time for three things you probably don't do enough of during the week: Learning, connecting, and planning.

Here's what a typical Friday now looks like for me:

Use Fridays for focused learning Derek Sivers argues that it's important to set aside blocks of time that are free of busy work (e-mail, project tasks, meetings and so on) so that you can invest energy in learning, growing, and strategizing for your business.

Yet entrepreneurs are often too overloaded with sales, clients, and pushing projects through to spend enough time on these essential tasks.

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Nowadays, the bulk of my Fridays are spent reading. Over the course of the week, as I come across interesting articles, I throw them into Evernote. You can also use apps like Pocket or Feedly to save articles to come back to later.

On Friday, I load the articles I've saved throughout the week in a browser, go to a cafe, disable my WiFi, and start reading. I take notes on what I learn, and I often think about who I know that would also appreciate the article (a great way to add value to your network).

Turning off your Internet is key here – the idea is to immerse yourself completely in reading and learning. This allows for what Cal Newport calls deep work, where, rather than hopping between a big project, answering e-mail, and checking your work chat, you devote all your attention to one task at a time.

Focused, uninterrupted work time allows you to absorb complex information and complete tasks more quickly.

Use Fridays to nurture valuable connections Understanding how to network effectively is an invaluable skill. Knowing the right people can open up opportunities you may not have access to otherwise.

But it's not enough to exchange a few e-mails with a VIP or say "Hi" at an event – you need to build meaningful relationships.

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Fridays are a great time to nurture your network. I like to get creative about it. I head over to my local cookie shop, text a few people, and invite them to come hang out. I say something like, "I'll treat you to the best chocolate chip cookies in Toronto."

Depending on who shows up, we then spend a few hours chatting about successes and failures, and just getting to know each other.

There's a couple reasons this works well on Fridays. First, people are excited for the weekend and tend to be in a more sociable mood. They're ready to leave the week behind and enjoy themselves. They are also in a relaxed mindset, which opens up opportunities for deeper, more meaningful conversation.

Use Fridays to plan your upcoming week I now dedicate at least one hour to planning every Friday afternoon. First, I go through my planning tool (I'm a huge fan of the Productivity Planner) to assess what I accomplished this week and where I fell short. I then use that as a guide to figure out what goals to set for myself for next week. By the time Monday arrives, I already have a map of what the week will look like.

There are three main reasons why planning on Friday afternoons is so effective:

If planning is the last thing you do on Friday, it will be fresh in your mind when you start work on Monday, making you ready to hit the ground running.

The act of reviewing your past week and then planning your upcoming week provides closure so that you can thoroughly enjoy the weekend. The physical act of closing my planning application is a trigger that says, "Your week is done, now go enjoy your weekend."

Sol Orwell is the co-founder of the seven-figure business Examine.com. He has started six companies over the past 15 years and he currently teaches other entrepreneurs how to do the same at www.sjo.com.

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