Don’t write off your Mondays

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?

5 thoughts on “Don’t write off your Mondays

  1. I start Mondays the same every week- cleaning our bathrooms at 6:30 a.m. It starts my week off with one of my most dreaded tasks finished until next week. With that out of the way, Mondays tend to be really productive. Laundry, homeschooling, getting meals prepped for the week- I am usually nailing it all on Monday. By Thursday and Friday I am totally out of steam and enjoy going to work (on Thursdays) and utilizing childcare at the gym (on Fridays).

    But, to answer your question, I plan my week on Sunday night. And hit the ground running on Monday. Works for me.

    1. @Katherine – Sunday night is a good time for planning. I’ve been aiming to do it Friday just because that allows me to email people I need to speak with, potentially on Monday, and give them time to get back to me during a work day. Though to be honest, these days, people are on email on Sunday too, so that would work.

  2. I have recently incorporated a planning hour for the last day of my work day on Fridays. I’m usually ready to zone off by 3:30 so taking the time to go through my to-do list and plan for Monday has really increased my productivity. Otherwise it’s too tempting to come in on Monday tell everyone about my fabulous weekend and get coffee for 45 minutes, then try to do decide what my top priority is while checking email and before I know it – it’s 11:30 and almost time for lunch. Great article! Also, did you know 168 hours is mentioned in chapter 2 of Crystal Paine’s (The Money Saving Mom) new book “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode”?

  3. I plan my week by the end of my Saturday workday. I try to be very specific about my to do list because otherwise I do find, as you saw reflected in the time logs, I spend far too much time figuring out what I will do.

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