A pitch for planning on Fridays

The best time management actually begins at the end
A pitch for planning on Fridays

We all have 24 hours in a day, and we all live through the same 168 hours each week. Yet during certain seasons of life, we experience those hours in more intense ways than we do in others.

Perhaps you’re living through a whirlwind time, at work or otherwise. Mornings are a rush of getting people out the door. Workdays feature their drumbeat of meetings and deadlines. Evenings descend more quickly than seems possible. You wake up on Monday and realize, when you stop to breathe, that it’s suddenly Thursday. As someone whose work focuses on time management and productivity, I’ve found this to be true: Hours must give all that you ask of them, even in a whirlwind.

To calm the chaos, we need to think about a stretch of time before we’re hurtling through it. We need to pause in the calm shallows to consider what we need to do, and what we want to do. That’s why I advocate for setting a designated weekly pause for planning—and why I think most of us are missing the best time to do it. Here’s why you should be planning on Fridays.


Creating a designated weekly planning time is essential for calming chaos in your time and your calendar. When that session occurs depends on your personal preference, but I have a case for the end of the week.

If you observe a typical Monday–Friday work or school schedule, then Friday, and particularly Friday afternoon, has four main upsides over some other leading planning-time contenders, like Sunday nights or Monday mornings. Here’s why.


Minimize the opportunity cost. It’s hard to start anything new on Friday afternoons. Many of us are sliding toward the weekend at that point. If this time would otherwise be wasted counting the hours until it’s acceptable to sign off, why not repurpose it for planning?


Make Monday productive. If you plan on Fridays, you can make full use of your Monday mornings. Many of us have more energy at the start of things than we do later on. Planning on Fridays allows you to use that Monday-morning energy for making progress on big projects, rather than using that energy to think about what Future You (who may have less vim and vigor than Monday Morning You) should be doing.

Plus if you discover in your Friday planning that you need to make an appointment or set up a meeting, you can still do this during Friday’s business hours, with all of Monday available to you if you need it. If you wait until Monday morning to plan, and realize then that you need to reach out to someone, you won’t get the meeting on the schedule until late Monday at the earliest. Most likely it will be Tuesday or later.


Upgrade your weekends. I aim to think about weekends one week ahead. But if you don’t do that—and many people don’t relish planning their leisure time eight to nine days in advance—planning on Friday gives you a chance to look at the immediately upcoming weekend.

You can make arrangements for any family or social activities, for one. You’ll be more likely to make space for big adventures if you think about Saturday on Friday, rather than if you attempt to make a plan on Saturday morning when no one feels like doing much of anything.


Calm the Sunday scaries. A great many people plan on Sunday nights, and this does still allow for directing Monday-morning energy. But the big problem with planning on Sunday is that you go into the weekend without a plan for the upcoming workweek. You know there are complicated problems waiting for you, but you don’t know exactly what. The uncertainty can keep your brain churning through these questions.

This is the big reason that even people who like their jobs can suffer from Sunday anxiety. They spend what could be leisure or family time mulling over the undefined tasks they’ll face during the week ahead.


If you know exactly how you plan to accomplish what you need to accomplish before you quit on Friday afternoon, then you can relax. You can give your brain a true break. Do your weekly planning on Friday afternoon, Friday after Friday, and life will feel a lot more tranquil—on every day of the week.


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Send questions, comments, and planning notes to aoakes@qz.com. This edition of The Memo was written by Laura Vanderkam and edited by Gabriela Riccardi. Adapted from Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters, copyright © Laura Vanderkam, published by Penguin Random House.