The Bangles may have sung of "Manic Mondays," but Tuesday is really the day when stuff gets done.
According to a recent survey by the staffing company Accountemps on employee productivity, 39% of HR managers said that Tuesday was generally the best day for their employees. That beat Monday (24%), Wednesday (14%) and Thursdays and Fridays (a paltry 3% apiece).
Why is that? Friday’s problems are self-explanatory, but there’s no reason Monday can’t be just as productive as Tuesday—and the reasons it isn’t represent, for many people, a missed opportunity.
According to Kimberly Stiener-Murphy, branch manager for Accountemps in Sacramento, the first thing holding back Monday's productivity is that many people tend to have a lot of meetings the first day of the week. Kicking off a project? People schedule a meeting on Monday morning. Trying to keep everyone on the same page? The Monday morning staff meeting is a fixture of life in many offices.
It makes sense, but the problem is that our energy levels peak at the start of a workday, and our "game time" levels of focus are best at the start of any activity—the workweek included.
Solution: Monday morning is prime time. Unless a meeting will truly use every bit of creativity and focus a person has, Monday is the wrong time to schedule it. Thursday or Friday would be much better.
"Monday ends up being a catch-up day," says Stiener-Murphy. Because people do slack off on Thursdays and Fridays, anything urgent from the prior week gets tackled on Mondays.
Solution: "If you want to make Monday a little more productive, you have to figure out how to set goals and expectations for your Thursdays and Fridays," she says.
The biggest reason Mondays aren’t productive is that people wait until Monday to figure out what they should be doing on Monday—and the rest of the week. Stiener-Murphy does a lot of placements for temp help, and she notes that "A client will always call me on Monday saying ‘I need extra help.’ Rarely do they call me on Friday."
Most big projects can be seen coming down the pike. Most future work loads can be estimated. "We’re never as pro-active as we like," she says. The key to a productive Monday is to show up at work knowing what you intend to tackle that day and that week.
The key to that is reclaiming a bit of Friday for a simple ritual.
Some time before that 6 p.m. Friday beer, look at your calendar for the next week. Think about your professional goals and the projects you have going on now and in the near future. Write down the specific tasks you intend to accomplish in the next 168 hours.
Then divvy those up over the workweek, with more slated for Monday than Thursday or Friday—since stuff will inevitably come up . Block in time to accomplish your tasks on your calendar.
That way, when you sit down at your desk at 8:30 a.m. Monday, you won’t dither about what to do with the time. You’ll know, and you’ll know it will be something worthwhile.
What’s your most productive day of the week?