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Your productive Monday starts on Friday by spending time to reflect, clean up your work, plan your week, and share an update with stakeholders.

Here are the 4 Friday habits that create a company-wide predictable and productive Monday.

  • πŸ€” Personal Retrospective: Review your week and make space for your growth mindset.
  • βœ… Groom your backlog: Complete a few tasks and reduce the complexity of work in progress.
  • πŸ“… Plan your week: Structure your week with clear intent and purpose.
  • πŸ“§ Share an update: Update your teams with a weekly check-in.

These 4 habits, when scaled across a single team or an organization, empower individual contributors and leaders to align work to achieve business outcomes.

With transparency, the individual contributor and team leaders alike know how to deliver value to the business goals. Additionally, they understand how their project or their commitments drive business outcomes that move the company forward.

Productive Mondays Begin on Friday

To have a productive Monday, predictability and visibility are essential. Waiting until Monday to share a project check-in or plan your week is too late. People are already focused on their work.

Signs of an Unproductive Productive Monday

Here are some signs that your work week may be starting off on the wrong foot:

  • You are searching through emails for marching orders.
  • Meetings focus on updates from last week.

How to Have a Productive Monday

We should always strive to start off on the right foot:

  • Review check-ins from other teams.
  • Unblock individual contributors.
  • Have staff meetings that are working sessions, solving problems, or discussing risks to objectives.
  • Managers should not ask, “Can I get an update before this staff meeting?”
  • Momentum from last week carries over to Monday.

So why do most of us not have a plan in place before Monday starts?

Do The Most Important Thing First

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, suggests in his blog article The Only Productivity Tip You’ll Ever Need that productivity requires that you “give yourself a time and space to work on what is important to you each day.”

The Free Think Friday mindset helps create sacred time to create clarity on what is the most important for your next week

If you do nothing else, stop here and schedule sacred time each day to ensure you get the most important thing done each day.

Step 1: A Personal Retrospective

What went well? What can I improve?

Here is your opportunity to reflect on the week while it’s still fresh.

Reflect on Your Week

An Agile retrospective allows the team to discuss their recent progress. It’s critical for continuous improvement and enables them to become more self-aware and intentional in their practices moving forward.

Similarly, a growth mindset promotes adapting to change by being more self-aware and intentional in our continuous learning. The first step for your productive Monday is to pause. Now, take time to reflect on how you are doing.

Create a Confluence document, Google Doc, or Notion page; it’s up to you. Plan on making what you discover public, at least to your team. Here is a Notion Template to get started

βœ… Some Questions to Ask Yourself in a Personal Retrospective

  • Check your board. Did you finish what you promised? If not, where are you stuck and why?
  • What new things did you have to do this week?
  • What are some things you did well this week?
  • Did your team meet their goals this week?
  • What feedback did you get that we need to use to improve our plan?
  • What can you do to help others do well next week?

A retrospective is a place to reflect on the good and the bad and an opportunity to identify opportunities to improve.

Write it down.

This is the foundation for turning your Monday around and setting you and your organization up for success.

Step 2: Groom Your Backlog

Reviewing your task list your backlog) is your opportunity to add clarity, set priority, and reduce FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) in your work.

It’s also time to practice saying No.

James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) provides a set of tools for us to learn how to increase productivity by identifying the work that does not align with our personal or company goals in his article The Art of Saying No. This is a really important productivity hack that every leader and aspiring leader needs to learn.

Complete Some WIP (Work In Progress)

The phone rings, kids need to be picked up from school, a meeting is starting, or your boss just messaged you… Timebox (limit the amount of time) this step to 30 minutes.

βœ… Tips for Getting Quick Wins

  • Review your board for small tasks.
  • Add a ‘quick-win’ label or tag to your tasks during the week so they are easy to find.
  • Clean up your tabs and notes.
  • Tidy your desk.

Completing WIP reduces stress.

Simultaneously, the act of looking through your work for quick wins builds awareness of your workweek. This perspective will guide step 3 when we build our plan for a productive Monday.

Reduce Complexity and Identify Scope Creep

How often do you start a task that quickly grows in scope, risking other deadlines?

It happens to all of us and it’s true that “the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.” We need to break down complex work into manageable pieces to manage this risk to our objectives goal of a productive Monday.

This activity is cathartic, 🧘 reducing stress and helping us identify areas where additional resources may be needed.

βœ… 5 tips for Managing Complexity and Scope Creep

  • Review goals: Step back and look at the big picture, your quarterly targets, or OKRs.
  • Add context: Update the titles and descriptions of your work to add context.
  • Split work: If you have more than 4-6 hours left, consider splitting it into multiple tasks.
  • Add notes: Consolidate your notes and close tabs to ensure your WIP is in one place.
  • Say no: Does the work align with your goals? You may want to discuss it with your team or manager.

Set Expectations and Be Responsive

Building healthy culture starts with trust, and trust is fostered through empathy. For this reason, when team members respond to one another promptly, it demonstrates respect and acknowledgment, which helps to strengthen trust.

On the other hand, when someone is not timely in their response, it can unintentionally make the other person feel ignored or undervalued, potentially eroding trust within the team.

Remaining responsive and escalating an issue if needed also helps reduce interruptions next week and keeps others unblocked come Monday morning.

βœ… Leave No Rock Unturned

  • Look for tasks with labels you are interested inβ€”for example, grooming, blocked, quick-win, etc.
  • Timebox any new work you discover (5 minutes)
  • Move emails that need work into your board and update the thread.
  • Review Slack reminders and mentions and clear out those reminders from the week.
  • Always leave a comment and set or reset expectations.

Now is the time to reset an expectation. We all miss things. Own it.

Let the stakeholder know and set or reset the expectation. Using dates and a calendar view to help prevent over-committing.

Step 3: Plan Your Week

Let’s put all this work together and plan for next week so we can take back Monday. A productive Monday starts with a plan.

Do Not Over Commit

Be honest with yourself. By this point, you have your arms around the current week: the wins and the losses. Is there a pattern? Do you feel like every week gets the best of you?

Delivering business outcomes that have an impact starts right here.

βœ… Learn how to say NO

  • Do not over-committing and under-deliver.
  • Focus on moving business objectives forward.
  • No is the most important word you don’t know how to use.

Read more from James Clear on this Ultimate Productivity Hack.

Trust your gut.

Embrace Continuous Learning

Work will take everything you give it. So, when you choose to give it all of your time, it will happily consume you.

Choose at least 1 hour a week to learn a new skill, read a book, or take an online course. Improving and expanding your skills never goes out of style.

Your career, and future you, will thank you. πŸ™

βœ… Some ideas to support your personal and professional growth

  • Read a book as a team. Discuss a few chapters each week or the entire book in a month.
  • Help others. How can you help someone succeed next week, next month, and in their career?
  • Begin with the end in mind. What skill do you wish you had a year from now?
  • Read Living Forward: A great book to help you determine what matters most.

Step 4: Share an Update

The final step.

Send an honest and transparent update. It’s not easy. However, sharing a weekly update builds trust and aligns cross-functional teams.

Create Your Weekly Check In

Start by asking your team or manager how they would like to get an update from you each week.

With practice, much of this will already be completed.

An OKR check-in template is great. Anything will do. Start with sharing what’s on-track, off-track, blocked, and up-next.

Add some context and click send.

πŸ’‘ Some Advice for Your Weekly Update

  • KISS. Start small with a bullet list to a team slack channel or email.
  • Commit. Start with a few updates and then discuss in a team retrospective or 1:1.
  • Honest. Share your mind, not what you think others want or need to hear.
  • Be positive. Identify opportunities to improve and adjust to meet business objectives.

Delivering the update is just the first step. The conversations it will create and the risks it will identify will require your executive leadership and presence to navigate.

Be careful.

The words we choose and the tone of our update, especially when shared across an organization, impact how the message is received.

Here are 2 books that have shaped my learning and stand above the rest for me.

Let the Week Go: Welcome to the Weekend

πŸŽ‰ πŸŽ‰ πŸŽ‰


Welcome to your productive Monday.

You created a blueprint for next week. Now, go enjoy a stressless weekend knowing that you have set yourself, your team, and everyone around you up for success next week.

Not all Habits Are Bad!

Habits are formed when you make small improvements and allow them to compound.

James Clear’s book Atomic Habits is a must-read. Life-changing habits start with small, microscopic changes that compound.

Make Monday Productive Again

Sharing mindful, well-groomed weekly updates will help you and others succeed.

Begin with the end in mind

Dr. Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Imagine for a minute, your new productive Monday:

  • Managers share public updates before the Monday staff meeting.
  • The Monday staff meeting is converted to a working session to focus on resolving conflict and risk.
  • Individual contributors feel the synergy of alignment on goals.
  • Predictable business outcomes drive brand consistency from marketing and sales to support.
  • Brand reputation builds sustained value.
  • And so much more…

Thank you for reading.

Please comment and share habits or frameworks you use to organize yourself and your teams in the complex, multi-tasking world of startups and technology.

Enjoy your weekend.

It’s Friday!


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