Tech entrepreneurs and software developers are no strangers to deadlines. As soon as a release date looms closer on the calendar, pizza boxes pile up in the office, and late nights become the norm.
At Flow, we build software that helps teams work together. On our quest to improve online collaboration, we’ve learned a lot by observing the productivity habits of tens of thousands of people. The resulting data has shown us that some weekdays are better than others for completing certain tasks.
Implementing the findings from our research into the way we work has enabled us to increase our output without suffering a loss in the quality of our product. We’ve also radically diminished the power that deadlines once held over us.
From our software company to yours, we’re sharing the findings from our research below. We’ve also included suggestions on how to plan tasks throughout the week for maximum efficiency.
Here’s how you can help your team increase productivity and escape the need for office overtime.
Start Your Week With This Question
The first thing we ask everyone on Monday morning is:
“What do you want to accomplish this week?”
Sharing our responses internally helps to keep everyone updated. But another reason we ask ourselves this question is to take advantage of a productivity pattern we observed, one that our software team most likely shares with yours:
On Monday, we’re at our most inspired, most proactive, and busiest.
I’ll say it in a different way: on Monday, we plan more and we do more. We set the tone for the week and hit a high note in terms of quantity of work.
This hunch may seem like a given, but it’s one we can finally back up with the hard data we received from observing the behaviour of tens of thousands of users.
When someone creates, delegates, discusses, or checks off a task in Flow, we’re witnessing productivity in action. By aggregating every little action from across our user base and analyzing the patterns, we’ve learned a lot about the way teams work.
Understand The Monday Bump vs. The Friday Slump
This is a graph showing the relative activity of Flow users as they get things done throughout the week. Compared with any other weekday:
- More work gets created on Monday.
- More work gets delegated on Monday.
- More work gets scheduled on Monday.
- More work gets completed on Monday.
Monday is when we’re at our most proactive. We come back from the weekend with new ideas and perspectives on what we want to accomplish. The time away inspires us.
The opposite can be said for Friday. Surprised? Probably not.
Which day kicks off your weekend? Friday. Which day puts your workweek to bed? Friday. Little shock, then, that Friday is our least productive workday.
What is shocking is by how much teams tend to slump on Friday.
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.
How to Plan a Productive Week
This trend reveals a drop in quantity as the work week progresses: fewer plans, fewer completions, fewer comments, and fewer assignments. But are we really 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.”
Maybe in some cases. But for most of us it’s more likely that Friday is a focus day–or a day for larger tasks–rather than a multi-tasking day. Quantity does not necessarily mean quality.
The data suggests that multi-tasking happens on Mondays:
- We are so busy that we only have little spots of time here and there, so we pick up the smallest, quickest tasks and get them out of the way early
- We review finished work and confirm it’s complete, checking off tasks that were done previously
- We knock off more tasks in general thanks to a rejuvenating weekend
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is a time to work out the details and then get stuff done.
And on Fridays, when task completion rates drop, it’s best to hunker down and focus on one or two bigger pieces of work.
This supports a well accepted work cycle: first we plan, then we decide how to start, then we get on with it–with this cycle flowing in sync with our work week.
It would make sense, because we also see task comments in the Flow app spike on Tuesday and Wednesday, reinforcing the idea that after we plan, we discuss.
Does This Mean You Should Plan to Be Lazier on Fridays?
Just because you may complete fewer tasks on Fridays, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lazier. Down time is a natural part of the creative process.
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”
- 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. And 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.
Use Flow to plan projects, prioritize to-dos, delegate tasks, and collaborate beautifully with your team. Use automation tools to put time your company’s consuming admin tasks on autopilot. And structure your week according to the findings above.
At the very least, you’ll see an increase in your team’s productivity. And as you refine the process even further, the stress that was once associated with delivery dates and project deadlines may even become a thing of the past.