NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Mondays at the office are never fun, but they don’t have to be stressful if you plan ahead. Experts weigh in on five things to do on Fridays to set yourself up for a successful, worry-free start to the week.
1. Catch up on email
If Mondays are a nightmare simply because of the volume of unread email in your inbox, get a jump-start on your responses, recommends Cathy Renda, senior employee engagement manager at WynterWyman.
“If you can clean out a little of that backlog on Friday, on Monday you’ll be able to respond to what’s new rather than playing catchup all day,” Renda says. “When you have old emails to answer on top of the ones coming in, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.”
If you don’t want to be stuck at your office late on Friday responding to emails, Rends recommends setting aside an hour or half-hour over the weekend to catch up.
“I’m not suggesting people work outside of their regular workday, but this may be the best solution for some people,” she says, adding that in U.S. culture, the concept of a 40-hour workweek doesn’t exist for many constantly connected professionals.
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“If I come into the office on Monday and I have new email beyond what I can see on one screen, it starts to give me anxiety and it can be hard to know where to start,” she says. “But with a little planning, I’m prepared.”
2. Review your calendar for the upcoming week
“When people are in control of their calendar, they feel in control of their jobs,” Renda says. “If you look ahead, you can avoid booking things back-to-back so you can give yourself breathing room in your schedule, even time to take lunch.”
Even if your schedule isn’t crazy, looking ahead to next week on a Friday can help you prepare mentally for what’s coming -- and choose the right attire.
“Maybe you have a client meeting and you need to make sure you’re dressed appropriately,” she says. “You don’t want to show up in more casual summer attire if there’s something important going on.”
It’s key to understand who you’ll be meeting with so you can do the appropriate research, says Maren Donovan, CEO of Zirtual
, a virtual assistant provider.
“If you can review your upcoming meetings on a Friday, that gives you or your assistant time to prepare a mini dossier on each person you’re meeting,” Donovan says. “You can Google them, look at their LinkedIn profile, and when you sit down face-to-face, you’ll be familiar with them and their background. It puts you ahead of the game.”
3. Organize and prioritize your to-do list
Allot an hour every Friday afternoon to prepare for Monday, recommends Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist.
“I can speak from experience here: Every Friday, tie up as many loose ends as possible. You have to change your attitude from ‘I'll save it for Monday’ to ‘I'll do it today,’” Greenberg says. It's all about attitude.”
At the end of the week, you’ll likely have lots of stray notes -- both electronic and paper -- detailing things you need to do, Renda says. Round all these up and make a list of all the projects you’re working on that will need your attention come Monday.
“It’s just a matter of prioritizing all those things onto your to-do list instead of letting them float around on a stray piece of paper,” she says. “That way, when you come in Monday, you can look at your list and know what you need to address right away.”
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Without a single, organized list, it’s easy to start every Monday with a feeling of dread -- that there are things hanging over your head but you just can’t quite put your finger on them, she says. Even though the list may be long and full of problems you need to tackle, having your to-dos in a centralized place helps you gain control over your week before it starts.
4. Tidy up your desk
Coming back to work on Monday to a clean, welcoming office space will help give a sense of renewal to your week.
“A tidy and organized desk will make you feel fresher and less disorganized,” Greenberg says.
For most people, it’s a mental thing, Renda says.
“If I come into my office during the week and it’s disorganized, I think, ‘OK, it’s not perfect, but I have things in progress,’” she says. “But if I come in on Monday to a messy desk, it’s not professional. A clean desk makes me feel like I have more control over my work, at least at the beginning of the week.”
If you don’t care how your desk looks, Renda advises considering others who may stop by -- especially on a Monday.
“What does it say to people coming into your office or cube at the beginning of a new week and there is stuff everywhere?” she says. “You need to start off with things in good order.”
5. Update your goals and see where you stand
Having a to-do list is great, but it’s more like a shopping list, Donovan says. Seeing where you stand with regard to your broader career goals is most important.
“Everyone should be setting overarching monthly and weekly goals. When you hit Friday, check and see where you stand and make a note of anything you missed,” she says.
These goals should be a combination of personal and professional, Donovan says. For example, you could include your desire to close on a big contract, make a hire and land that vice president job you’ve been wanting.
“A lot of people accomplish lots of smaller things during their day, but they reach those larger goals,” she says. “You have to have that big-picture vision -- it sets your Monday up to be so much more effective.”
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