OPINION: I subscribe to the theory that Tuesdays are the most productive day of the working week.
It’s the best day to make a dent on a big project, or to collaborate with colleagues, or meet with clients or other contacts. I’ve heard it’s a good day to schedule an interview or ask your boss for a pay rise.
There’s some evidence to support this view. First we can rule out Monday and Friday.
Peter Wilson, the chairman of the Australian Human Resources Institute, says 90 per cent of sick days in Australia are taken on a Monday or Friday, or next to a long weekend.
If it were random, you’d expect sick days to be distributed evenly, meaning each weekday should have 20 per cent of the sick days.
So it’s logical to infer that are good proportion of the Monday and Friday sick days are actually people chucking a sickie.
You could interpolate further and suggest many people who do show up to work on a Monday or a Friday don’t actually want to be there.
What about if you enjoy your job? You don’t need to spend all Monday mourning the weekend, for Monday to be less productive than other days. Perhaps it takes a few hours to regain momentum and plan your week, or perhaps you’re waiting for other people to make their contribution to a project.
By Tuesday you should be up and running, and able to knock over a decent chunk of work.
For many people, Wednesday is Hump Day. I don’t believe in it myself, but that’s because I like my job.
So even if Hump Day is not real to you, it may be real to your colleagues, your boss, your clients and suppliers – the people you deal with to get your job done.
Mind you, I suggest Wednesdays can be a good day for collaboration, especially if you’re in a workforce with a high proportion of part-time workers.
The HR Institute does not collect figures on this, but in my experience part-time workers usually work three or four days in a row, so Wednesday is the common denominator.
By Thursday, people are already trying to clear the decks for the weekend.
I’m not the only one who thinks Tuesday is the most productive day.
Back in 2013 Accountemps, a North American temping agency, surveyed HR managers of companies with more than 20 staff and asked them which day was the most productive in their business. Tuesday won by a country mile.
Two out of five survey respondents nominated Tuesday, followed by one out of four in favour of Monday. Wednesday was an also-ran at one out of seven and only a handful nominated Thursday and Friday.
The problem with the survey is that it only had a sample size of 300 HR managers, though I guess you could argue they represent at least 6000 workers.
But in its defence, Accountemps has repeated the same survey in 2008, 2002, 1998 and 1987 and Tuesday always comes up trumps. The only inconsistency is the degree – in the 2008 survey, three out of five respondents nominated Tuesday, and only one out of eight chose Monday.
Just for fun, I put it out to my Twitter following and 45 people replied to a poll – more than half selected Tuesday, with Monday a distant second.
Time management software company Flow has found similar results by interrogating the data from 37,000 users for when tasks are created, delegated, discussed or ticked off.
Mondays and Tuesdays are the most productive days, Flow’s figures suggest, and 35 per cent less work gets done on Fridays compared with Mondays.
Tuesdays are also important for the stockmarket. Financial market software company IRESS has analysed share trading patterns on the Australian Securities Exchange to suggest investors buy on a Monday and sell on a Tuesday.
Meanwhile, social media management tool Hootsuite says it’s best to avoid posting to Facebook on Tuesdays – literally any other weekday is better for audience engagement.
That’s probably because on Tuesdays everyone is too busy being productive at work to bother looking at Facebook.
Caitlin Fitzsimmons writes a regular column on our lives at work. Find her on Facebook or Twitter.