How do you feel on a Monday morning—are you refreshed after the weekend and raring to go? Or perhaps you feel daunted by the week ahead.
Either way, frontloading your work week will make the most of your replenished energy stores while tackling your workload head-on. You’ll commit to more hours at the beginning of the week before tapering off towards the end when you’re tired and less productive.
What Does a Frontloaded Work Schedule Look Like?
Frontloading your week is a welcome alternative to working an arbitrary 8 hours a day. Instead of following the traditional 9 am to 5 pm schedule that has been forced on many employees since the early 20th century, a frontloaded timetable has more flexibility.
You’ll still complete 40-hours of work (if that’s a requirement set by yourself or your employer), but your hours are weighted, so you’re busier at the beginning of the week than at the end.
A typical example would be:
- Monday: 12 hours
- Tuesday: 10 hours
- Wednesday: 8 hours
- Thursday: 6 hours
- Friday: 4 hours
Total = 40 hours
Feel free to experiment with variations if the above plan doesn’t quite match your rhythm.
Who Isn’t Frontloading Suitable For?
Frontloading isn’t for everyone. Typically, it works best in freelancing or paid remote roles where you have some control over your schedule. If your employer requires you to work set hours, experimenting with alternative schedules may not be possible.
It might also be problematic if you have a tendency to overwork. If you manage to squeeze 12 hours of work into Monday and Tuesday, you may be tempted to cram the same workload up until Friday, totaling 60 hours for the week. Remember: this isn’t the aim of frontloading your schedule and is a fast-track to exhibiting signs of burnout.
What Are the Benefits of Frontloading Your Work Schedule?
But if you are able to make the switch—what are the benefits?
- You’ll tackle your most challenging tasks at the start of the week when you have peak energy following a restful weekend.
- If productivity takes a dip later on, you’ll ease into fewer hours and less intense tasks.
- When life happens and you need to schedule appointments and activities outside of work, you’ll have plenty of time to set aside on Thursdays and Fridays.
- Or, make the most of the extra free time set aside on Friday and do something you love. Head off early for a weekend away, enjoy downtime with friends or family, pick your kids up early from daycare—do whatever is right for your work-life balance.
Frontload Each Day in Your Work Week Too
If you’re giving your work schedule a productive overhaul, there’s no need to stop with your weekly timetable. How about analyzing how you spend your individual days too?
Many people warm up to their workday with a dose of procrastination. Rather than getting stuck into the most important task of the day, it’s easy to be sidetracked by answering emails, attending an early meeting, or networking on social media. Consider frontloading your days if you get to lunch and feel you’ve barely accomplished anything.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
This quote is famous in productivity circles and highlights the importance of completing your most substantial task first thing in the day (and in your week).
Using the Ivy Lee method, you’ll write down a list of the six most important tasks you want to complete the following day. Put them in priority order. At the start of the following day, you’ll work through your most important task (by eating the frog, so to speak). You won’t start the second task until you’ve finished the first. Add any leftover tasks to tomorrow’s list.
Use These Apps to Organize Your Frontloaded Work Schedule
Frontloading requires a lot of discipline and time management skills. Without keeping track of your hours, it’s easy to overwork yourself. If you find yourself doing an eight-hour day on a Friday, then frontloading isn’t working as planned—either you didn’t load your hours enough at the beginning of the week, or you’ve overshot and worked more than you’d planned.
The following apps will help you stay in control of your schedule.
Whether it’s chatting to clients or colleagues, meetings can eat into your week and reduce your productivity juices. Gain back control of when your real-time appointments occur by using Calendly. You’ll set the hours you’re free to meet, and your fellow attendees won’t gain access to your blocked-out time.
If you plan to work until midday on Friday, your Calendly schedule won’t allow people to book a meeting with you later than this. And if you prefer to have meeting-free days, that’s fine too!
Time-batching is an excellent complement to a frontloaded schedule. You’ll set out chunks of time to dedicate to a task and use Toggl to track your hours.
The great thing about Toggl is you don’t need to set up your client and project information before timing your work (although you can). Instead, just hit the timer button to start the clock ticking. You’ll then add a description of the work once you’ve finished.
Asana is a wonder-tool for task management, and it ties in well with the Ivy Lee method. Add the tasks and projects you want to accomplish and set a due date to hold yourself accountable for completing the work.
Add plenty of tasks and projects at the start of your frontloaded week and view them in a List, Board, Timeline, or Calendar format. This is a handy way to check you’ve not left too much work for the end of the week.
Do you struggle to knuckle down and complete your work, even when you’ve set the hours aside? Use Pomodor and commit to the Pomodoro technique, a popular productivity hack.
You’ll set a timer and work in 25-minute sprints before taking a 5-minute break. Repeat the cycle three times, then take a longer 15 to 30-minute break. You’ll be amazed at how much you accomplish when the clock is ticking!
Try Frontloading Out for Size
Do you need to breathe fresh life into your work schedule? Frontloading is excellent if you have waning energy levels by the end of the week. Say farewell to any Friday night panic you’ve previously experienced when you struggle to meet deadlines before the weekend.
Instead, your weighted schedule means you’ll have completed your most pressing tasks days ago. We all deserve to work at our own pace, so try experimenting with alternative work schedules to find a rhythm that suits you.