Which Day of the Week Is Least Productive?

By Cyrus on July 21, 2014

Studies like this show that Tuesday is the most productive day for workers…

But what day of the week is least productive?

On what day are you showing up because you have to clock in - not because you’re pumped to strike 10 items off your To Do list?

To answer that question, we looked at the usage data of over 37,000 Flow users. Flow is an indicator of productivity because activity in Flow directly represents things getting done. So when someone creates, delegates, discusses, or checks off a task, we’re witnessing productivity in action. By taking all of these little interactions and aggregating them across our user base, we’re able to analyze productivity trends on a higher level…

Check out what we found:

Fridays are the least productive day of the week

As you can see, Monday and Tuesday are the most productive days. And the least productive day of the week is - drumroll - Friday.

Surprised? Probably not.

After all, which day kicks off your weekend? Friday. Which day puts your workweek to bed? Friday. Little shock that Friday is our least productive workday…

What is shocking is by how much Friday slumps.

We calculated daily averages for all of the meaningful things people do in Flow - creating, delegating, completing, and discussing tasks - and found that, consistently, Friday is the least productive day of the week.

When compared against the mania of Mondays, the Friday Slump sees:

  • 35% fewer tasks created
  • 28% fewer tasks delegated from one team member to another
  • 25% fewer comments posted
  • 35% fewer tasks completed

Let me repeat that last point…: 35% less work gets done on Friday than on Monday.

So Are We Just Plain Lazier on Fridays?

Whether you’re excited for the upcoming weekend, exhausted from the week that’s almost over, or simply numbed by the seemingly endless cycle of the work week, that data suggests that most of us are going into the office on Friday and, in the back of our minds, thinking something like:

“Because today is Friday, I don’t have to work as hard.”

But is that what’s really going on?

The data is saying that less work gets planned, re-distributed and completed on Friday. But are we truly clocked out and going through the motions at the end of the week?

Perhaps not.

Think about this: not only is Tuesday a highly productive day; it’s also a day commonly filled with meetings. It’s far less common to book meetings on Fridays - especially on Friday afternoons. Which means that, when you look at your calendar Friday morning and you see a big ol’ meeting-free gap, you have 1 of 2 options:

  1. Fill your time watching cute cat videos
  2. Fill your time chipping away at a bigger, longer-term project

See, on meeting-filled days like Tuesdays, you may only have 30 minutes to an hour between meetings. So you knock a few small tasks out on those days. That leaves the big projects for your evenings, weekends… and Fridays.

Are you actually less productive on Fridays… or are your hands just not as busy?

Perhaps Friday is a focus day - or a day for larger tasks - rather than a multi-tasking day. As we learned early on in the development of Peak - our solution that sheds light on your team’s output, including reports and insights based on your team’s activity - quantity does not mean quality.

Should Your Team Try to Complete More Tasks on Fridays?

Consider this: according to the Economic Policy Institute, worker productivity grew 80% between 1973 to 2011. Which means that, when our parents were our age, they were producing about half as much at work as we do today. (Oh, and that same study shows that our pay doesn’t reflect our robotic levels of productivity.)

Also consider this:

  • This research review found that “downtime is in fact essential to mental processes” (from Scientific American)
  • Studies show that taking a day off every week - rather than longer vacations - can result in greater overall productivity as well as improved satisfaction with a company
  • Studies show that most people can engage in ‘deliberate practice’ for only an hour without rest

Innovation requires rest. Creativity requires downtime. Satisfaction comes not just when we produce great work but also when we have time to sit, relax and reward ourselves for the great work we’ve completed…

That said, you can keep your week-done slouch at bay by planning work in Flow. When your brain is zonked and your energy is low, it’s Flow that’ll remind you about that one mindless task you keep putting off then forgetting about…