Summer Fridays, for those that don’t know, are Friday afternoons where companies (usually those that want to keep their Millennial employees happy) stop work mid afternoon so that the sun can be enjoyed. Some companies fill those Friday afternoons with office games (logged under “team building”). Others order a keg of craft beer to the office so employees can throw back a few cold ones while they hang out together. And some companies just let everyone go home, go outside, and start their weekends early.
But if you’re the entrepreneurial type, then you know that Summer Fridays are just another opportunity to make some extra headway on your side hustle or startup project. While everyone else leaves the office to go hang by the pool, you’re headed to a coffee shop to grab an iced coffee and get to work.
Every entrepreneur will tell you that the only difference between weekdays and weekends is the fact that you have more hours to get things done on the weekends. Those that “live for Friday” don’t ever make strides toward the achievement of their own goals because they’re too busy celebrating away the pain of the work week. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, find relief in having those extra weekend hours to work toward something that means the world to them–the building of a company or a personal brand, for example.
So, while the weather is nice, how do you enjoy the sun while still having an extremely productive Sunday?
1. Prepare for Sunday on Saturday night.
Nothing gets your Sunday started off on the wrong foot faster than an extra late Saturday night.
If you want to have a full, productive Sunday, you have to get in the right mindset the night before. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to bed early on a Saturday just so I could wake up and crush it on Sunday.
Before you go to bed on Saturday, make a list of what you want to work on (and get done) the following day. Figure out when you want to wake up, and set your alarm accordingly. Decide how you want your day to look, when you want to go to the gym, when you want to meet up with friends in the afternoon, etc., and then ask yourself where in your day you are going to get done what needs to get done.
And hey, if you look at your Sunday schedule and you realize you are prioritizing social activities instead of working on that startup idea of yours, then cut some of those things out–but do it the night before. Tell your friends you’ll meet up with them, but it will have to be later. Cancel that morning pool session (besides, you went last week).
Having a productive day is all about blocking off time for what matters most, and then guarding that time no matter what. And that process starts the night before.
2. Wake up, and then turn off your phone.
Over the years, I have learned that the single greatest distraction in life is my cell phone.
Whenever I wake up early, eager to get things done, the moment the rest of the world is awake and I am reachable, I am not longer focused. If my phone is near me and someone texts me, I’m now “out of flow.” If someone calls me, my entire morning is disrupted. If I check my email every twenty minutes, then I am more prone to reacting to what’s coming at me instead of making progress in the direction of my choosing.
When you set that schedule for yourself the night before, remember that in order to actually deliver on that plan, you have to be focused. And one of the best ways to preserve that focus is to remove the option all together.
Wake up. Turn off your phone. Get to work.
3. Turn your phone back on and enjoy the day once you’ve gotten through your list.
This takes discipline, but I promise you it will transform the way you work on the weekends.
Use your phone (and your ability to communicate with the rest of the world) as a motivator for you to do what means the most to you. This might mean telling people the day before that you will be unreachable for the first half of the day. This might mean resetting some relationship dynamics. But it will pay off in the long run. Trust me.
When you wake up and keep your phone off, you will be amazed how much you can get done in such little time. We often think of our goals and lofty ambitions as things that require days weeks, even months or years of effort. But the truth is, they only take that long because, for one, we let them, but two, we automatically factor in the variable of being distracted.
Things always take longer when you’re constantly being taken out of flow.
Instead, keep your phone off until you’ve made serious progress on whatever project has your interest. Three, four, five hours of uninterrupted focus will entirely change the way you think about what is achievable in a single day. And, just to be clear, I don’t even mean that you have to work for five hours straight, no breaks. But when you do break, don’t go back to your phone. Don’t go back to your Instagram feed, or the barrage of text messages waiting for you. Instead, go make a snack. Go sit outside for a few minutes. We forget that these tiny breaks when we allow our minds to wander are when our ideas have the freedom to percolate and expand. In fact, you’ll find that a five or ten minute break away from whatever you were working on will actually lead to a new idea–and the next thing you know, you’ll be running back to your desk to pen it down.
It’s just, we rarely allow ourselves this time to think, so we forget that it happens.
We’re always turning back to our phones.
If you can discipline yourself for the first few hours of the day, you can freely spend the afternoon doing what everyone else does: hanging by the pool, getting lunch with friends, going for a bike ride, relaxing by the beach, etc.
Enjoying your summer is important. But if you can practice discipline, then you can do both: enjoy the nice weather, and make serious progress on your journey as an aspiring entrepreneur.