I’m self-employed and work from home. Though I work across all seven days of the week I find certain days better suited to specific tasks, whether that’s catching up on admin, scheduling client work or finding time to write.
I wanted to find out if other writers experienced a weekly pattern of productivity so asked them if they had a ‘best’ day of the week to write. Around half said there wasn’t a best day with another group saying they didn’t know. This reflects my previous post which explored whether writers had a seasonal preference for writing – for the majority the time of year had no impact. For those who did have a preference, there was a change throughout the week, as the chart below illustrates:
What’s so special about Tuesday?
I was surprised to find that Sunday came last – this is often my best writing day. According to my survey the best day to write is Tuesday. This is reflected in other surveys of productivity. An article published by the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance found that among the five (Monday-Friday) working days of the week “Tuesday accounts for the largest share of working time (18.8 per cent) and Friday the lowest (16.8 per cent).” There is a downward curve in productivity from the middle of the week towards to end, which I found further decreases into the weekend for writers.
“There is a decline in productivity towards the end of the week.”
The article looked at other results and a survey of finance professionals repeated this finding. “Just under half (45 per cent) said they were equally productive every day of the week. Of the remaining 55 per cent, the start of the week (Monday and Tuesday) was viewed as the most productive while the end (Thursday and Friday) was viewed as the least productive.” Taking the insurance industry, the dip towards the end of the week was even more pronounced. A study of 6,000 insurance clerks found that from the beginning of the week “there was a very pronounced drop in output on Fridays (-5%) and Saturdays (-24%).”
“Acknowledging there is a dip allows us all to schedule writing for days when we are at our most productive.”
The article confirms there is a decline in productivity towards the end of the week, but doesn’t specify the causes. I think that acknowledging there is a dip allows us all to schedule writing for days when we are at our most productive. Which leads me to the section of the LSE article which explores absence rates.
I can’t come to work today as I have to finish writing a chapter
Most absence is due to genuine sickness – however some people do take sickness as a form of leisure. This has led to the creation of an index that measures absence as a form of “conscious withdrawal” with researchers looking at the difference between absence rates on the best and worst days for attendance. They found that once you account for weekend sickness causing a peak on Monday, that absence is higher than expected for Tuesdays.
With the evidence supporting Tuesday as the most productive day – whether you are in finance, insurance or writing – I imagine writers up and down the country calling in sick on Tuesdays to make the most of their peak in productivity to stay at home and write. I’m sure our invented sicknesses are more imaginative than the accountants’ excuses.
Bryson & Forth “Are There Day of the Week Productivity Effects?” 2007, LSE, Centre for Economic Performance http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/mhrldp0004.pdf