(MoneyWatch) In theory, half days off on Fridays are like early dismissal at school -- simply an early start to a care-free weekend. In reality, trying to cram a whole day's worth of work into half the time can make Friday morning (as well as Monday morning) twice as stressful. It can also leave your workload weighing on your mind all weekend long. There are some easy ways to avoid this scenario, though. "The idea is that by taking a few minutes to prep on Thursday afternoon, you can go into Friday relaxed and confident that not only will you be able to leave early on Friday, your Monday won't be miserable as a result," says Julie Morgenstern, author of "Time Management From The Inside Out." If you're taking a Summer Friday tomorrow, here's how to prepare today:
Give everyone a heads up
You don't want any surprises on Friday, so remind people of that today. "Send a reminder email to key colleagues, your boss, and key clients of your early exit on Friday -- so that they can get any requests, questions, or other needs to you early enough for you to respond," says Morgenstern.
Clean your desk before you leave
It's always more relaxing to come back to an organized desk. If you can take five minutes to organize your workspace before you start your weekend, even a busy Monday morning can be seem less stressful, says Kathleen Nadeau, Phd, an AD/HD specialist and time management expert. "That way you won't need to waste the first hour of your week trying to figure out where to begin."
Upgrade your To-Do list
Nadeau's tip for a To-Do list that works well during busy times (like Friday mornings in the summer) is to assign time estimates to each must-do item. Make tomorrow's detailed To-Do list tonight, and you won't be surprised when lunchtime rolls around and you're scrambling to finish.
Set an alarm for 10 a.m.
Have your smartphone ping you two hours, and then one hour, before you need to leave. "This will help you prevent yourself from getting so absorbed in what you are doing that you overshoot your exit," says Morgenstern. If you're leaving at noon, a 10 a.m. alarm will help you wrap up loose ends with plenty of time for any last minute surprises that weren't averted by your email reminder (see "Give everyone a heads up").
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