Not on Friday!

I think the good-idea fairy makes the rounds in people’s homes on Thursday nights. You’ve had all week with an idea brewing about some project, you’ve moved some thoughts around for a while, and in the shower Friday morning… BAM! You’ve got it.

You have an idea, and it’s a good one. You can’t wait to come to work and share this epiphany with your peers. Charge!

Hold on there, superstar.

Don’t do it.

It’s Friday.

Let me say it again: It’s Friday. Keep your bright idea to yourself.

For most of us in the workaday world, Friday is to tie things up and take a weekend off. It’s to mentally prepare for two whole days off, if you’re lucky, and start conserving energy for the weekend. Like it or not, that’s what it’s about. Don’t go messing with all that with your enthusiasm for more work.

I used to be this guy. I’m still tempted to be, but I’ve learned my lesson. I even thought I’d start with some sneaky version of a magic phrase we’ll talk about later: “We don’t have to make any decisions right now, but think about this over the weekend…”

You know what people usually didn’t do? Think about my idea on their days off. New ideas are small opportunities, and they often involve some sort of change. You know what people see it as any time on Friday? More work.

In writing and public speaking, a tried-and-true rule is to know your audience. The same goes for this new idea that needs support unless you want to muscle it forward alone. Great ideas take months to build and research, they need time and buy-in to develop and be resourced. Sadly, they can be snuffed out in moments when one influencer, perhaps the logistics person, turns her nose up at it on Friday afternoon.

You have a great idea, but if you think you’re going to get honest commitment to it, or if you seriously expect people to put brainpower to it while they’re spending time with family, you’re wrong. It will be your fault when the idea gets squashed.

It’s not your audience’s fault that you approached them on the one day of the week that absolutely no new work should start unless it’s an emergency. Hold Fridays as special days to get work done, tie up loose ends, and make plans to spend time with your own family and friends. You deserve that too.

When good ideas hit us, they’re powerful and often blinding. We see solutions and opportunity, and we sometimes feel like we have to treat them like waking dreams and share them lest they fade away. Relax. The truly good ideas won’t fade. They’ll still be there after the weekend if good enough. If not, you’ll be glad you didn’t run around trying for everyone’s attention.

Don’t be blinded by your new idea to the point that you forget your audience is human and won’t share your enthusiasm immediately. You need to get their attention when the time is right so they can listen past the initial gut reaction of you creating more work. Find the right time for them to hear the real opportunity you’re trying to share. Say it with me: No new ideas or projects on Friday.

And just to make things confusing, remember: Not everyone’s Friday is on Friday. For some on shift work or 12-hour days, their Friday might be Wednesday. Whoever you want to approach, know what his or her Friday is before you start.

Oh, and one more thing: Monday is a lot like Friday. It’s to get into the week, handle whatever happened over the weekend, and get as much forward motion as possible after a reasonable amount of coffee. Don’t try shopping around your idea on Monday either. Let people get the week started. Bring new ideas from Tuesday through Thursday if you can.

– What new ideas are you waiting to shop around?

– Other then those who have worked with me, have you gotten that Friday idea from a coworker? What was it?

Have a great week out there.

– JT

James Tinker

About James Tinker

James was born and raised in Bangor, and left home at 18 for the Navy. Twenty-five years later, he retired as a Command Master Chief, the highest enlisted rank on a warship in San Diego. His popular blog series, The Day Job, shares personal and professional lessons learned through his career.