Confession time: I really like Mondays. Partly that’s because I love what I do. But I also find Monday to be a very productive day. I often schedule my most important tasks for first thing Monday morning, and I try to get through a big chunk of my week’s goals by Monday quitting time. Indeed — a downside of this Monday devotion — if I lose a chunk of Monday for some reason, I feel like the whole week is adrift.
So imagine my surprise to learn — thanks to a recent Accountemps survey — that most HR people surveyed find Tuesday to be their employees’ most productive day. Tuesday wins by quite a bit over Monday. I really had no idea why this was until I started digging into people’s Monday schedules.
There turn out to be a few problems with Monday (please see one of my recent articles on this), but it largely boils down to this: Most people plan the week while they’re in it. This happens on both an institutional and individual level. Offices schedule Monday morning staff meetings to figure out what they’ll do that week. Or they do project kick-offs on Monday mornings. People come to work Monday and then figure out what’s going to happen that week, which means that the real work starts getting done Tuesday.
But what a missed opportunity! By Thursday everyone starts running out of steam (Thursday and Friday scored quite low on the productivity survey). If the real work starts happening on Tuesday, you only get about 2 days of focused work per week.
There’s a simple solution to the problem, which is this: plan the week before you’re in it. A Monday through Friday set of work days can be planned on the Thursday or Friday before. Offices could move planning and kick off meetings out of Mondays and into the less productive days at the end of the week. That means there’s less of an opportunity cost. And instead of totally drifting off by Friday afternoon, individuals can use that slot to figure out what needs to happen the next week. Figure out on Friday what you’ll be doing Monday, and then you can hit Monday morning ready to go.
When do you plan your weeks?