When a friend casually mentioned that Tuesday is statistically the most productive day of the week, I was skeptical. I never had any strong feelings or opinions about Tuesday. Between the busyness of Monday morning and the anticipation of Friday afternoon, Tuesdays usually feel like just another day of hard work and video meetings.
But maybe that’s exactly why Tuesday is considered by so many to be the most productive day of the week. According to a 2019 survey by staffing agency Accountemps, more than half of the workers responded that their energy and drive is highest at the beginning of the week, specifically on Tuesday (35%), followed by Monday (25%).
I admit I was a little surprised; I guessed Hump Day would be everyone’s favorite. However, the responses from more than 400 professionals are clear: if you have an important project to tackle, Tuesday is the best day to get it done.
The study went on to show that, unsurprisingly, productivity takes a nosedive after Wednesday. Just 12% of the professionals polled said they work best on Thursday, and only 10% selected Friday. Interestingly, 75% of all the workers surveyed said that they accomplish the most during the early and late morning, as opposed to late afternoon. The study confirmed that not many of us get much done during the lunch hour; only 2% said they were most productive at lunchtime.
It also seems that Tuesday has been a good day for generations of professionals. According to Accountemps, workers have repeatedly rated Tuesday as the single best day of the week to get work done since 1987. In 2007, almost 60% named it the most productive!
So, what is it that has made Tuesday such a successful workday for more than 30 years? I did some online research and came to some interesting conclusions about why Tuesday is so conducive to focus.
You’re Still Energized From the Weekend
While it’s sad to leave the weekend behind, many people come back to work feeling refreshed and energized. Tuesday is also early enough in the week to begin a project and still have plenty of time to collaborate with colleagues or get guidance from your boss, if necessary.
You’re Not Bogged Down by Your To-Do List
Ever notice how much easier it is to procrastinate a to-do list that’s as long as a grocery store receipt? Earlier in the week, you’re less likely to be burnt out by the workweek’s tasks. Many of us have the bad habit of creating overly ambitious and lengthy to-do lists. When we finally realize how much we’ve overestimated what a single person could accomplish in a week, it’s easier to become discouraged and unmotivated.
You’re More Likely To Be Working on Tuesday
Tuesday, particularly at 2:30 p.m., is apparently a great day for productive meetings or conference calls. A study conducted by scheduling firm YouCanBookMe analyzed more than 2 million responses to meeting invitations. They found that 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday is the single most popular meeting time. Probably not shockingly, Monday and Friday were the worst days for meetings because employees are less likely to be at their desk. A web analysis by Fast Company showed that these are statistically the most popular days to call in sick.
You’re Caught Up and Are Ready to Move Forward
Just because Mondays may feel busy for many of us, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re focused on important projects or tasks. Monday morning meetings are frequent at many workplaces, and employees use the remaining hours of the day getting caught up with emails and calls. Monday is busy, but it’s primarily used for catching up and planning ahead. By Tuesday, people are able to start pivoting their attention to individual tasks and deliverables.
So, there you have it: Tuesday is one of the best days of the week to have meetings and work toward specific goals. Here are some of my favorite simple tricks to make any day feel as productive as Tuesday!
Don’t Overburden Yourself
After productivity peaks on Tuesday, motivation can often plummet the rest of the week. It turns out that our brains may just be burnt out from repeated multitasking. While it seems like an efficient way to get more done in less time, multitasking can actually be a distraction that leads to errors and burnout. Instead of focusing on a long list of weekly goals, try making a short-term list of tasks just for the day ahead. Then, identify the most pressing item on the list and set a 30 or 60-minute timer to concentrate on it fully. Most importantly, don’t forget to give yourself a short break after reaching a milestone or stopping point!
Tune Out Distractions
With so many more of us working remotely, it’s crucial to be able to blur out household sounds, street noise and other distractions. Many people find white noise machines and noise-cancelling headphones helpful for improving focus.
According to the 2019 Accountemps survey, chatty coworkers are the top source of distraction and frustration. If you have a colleague who always instant messages you in the late morning to chat, you could try putting up an away message to let everyone know that you’re unavailable unless it’s urgent.
Another common distraction could actually be your cell phone, particularly if you use it for work purposes. If that’s the case, consider turning off social media notifications and logging out from distracting apps while you’re trying to focus.
Reward Yourself With Productivity Breaks
Especially for those of us working remotely, it’s important to acknowledge that there will be temptations to take care of things around the house. Instead of forbidding these things, which itself can be distracting, let yourself take short productivity breaks for every hour of focus. Whether you need to feed your pet or treat yourself to a fresh cup of coffee, go for it! After all, even people who work in offices allow themselves short breaks at the water cooler or a visit to a coworker’s cubicle.
Use Your Energy Levels Wisely
Are you a night owl or an early bird? Or something in between? Pay attention to this and try to work on complex tasks during the time of day you feel most alert and focused. For example, if you’re more of a night person who struggles to get going in the morning, try prepping emails, agendas or other projects the evening before. If you tend to feel foggy and unmotivated around 3:00 p.m. every day, use that time to knock out monotonous tasks that don’t require as much brainpower.
It turns out that Tuesday really is the best day of the week for moving forward on important projects, and it’s been that way for three decades! But regardless of whether you prefer Wednesday or even Friday to tackle your most pressing tasks, it’s fundamental to choose habits that work with your schedule and energy levels, not against them.
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