Productivity is a hot topic of conversation as people almost always wish there were more hours in the day. Both employers and employees seek to increase productivity to get more done, which increases profitability and the amount of stress you may have trying to complete a task.
The thing about productivity that is often misunderstood is that it is something that fluctuates greatly. One minute you could be cranking out tasks at an astounding rate, and the next you are struggling to just get one item done. This aspect of productivity creates a sense of discouragement in some, but it should be noted that you are not alone!
In fact, studies have shown that there are hours, days, and even times of the year in which people are more likely to be productive. Below is a look at those studies along with ways in which you can try to increase your overall productivity.
Redbooth is a company that specializes in task management and communication within a work environment. Through their tools they have the ability to track data related to productivity, which have led to some interesting observable patterns in productivity. With Redbooth users creating 1.8 million projects and 28 million tasks, the report definitely has the data to back it up.
Based upon the report it was found that Monday and Tuesday were days of the week reported to have the most tasks completed. Monday had a little bit of a lead but both days were extremely close. A reasonable explanation for why the beginning of the work week is more productive than the end of the work week is that people are coming out of the weekend where they were able to recharge and relax.
There is an increasingly popular opinion that rest can increase productivity.
The findings that productivity throughout the workweek gradually declines is not a new concept and is one of the main arguments behind a four day work week. In fact, Microsoft Japan claims that the implementation of the four day work week improved productivity by 40%.
Additional findings in the report showed that the most productive time of day for individuals was 11 am, and that the most productive season is fall.
The report can provide an insight into patterns, but your personal productivity may very well differ from these findings.
The second survey was conducted by Acountemps and surveyed 400 workers over the age of 18 in Canadian office environments. While a smaller sample, the survey could shine light on trends seen in the everyday worker as opposed to users that all utilize the same software. The survey actually reinforces many of the findings in the report. Below is a look at some of the similarities and differences found with the survey.
Both the survey and report agree that the beginning of the week is more productive than later in the week. However, unlike the findings in the Redbooth report, the Accountemps survey found Tuesday to be the most productive day of the week by a significant margin. Additionally, both survey and report are in agreement that 10 am - 12 pm is the most productive time of day.
The Accountemps survey also assessed the effects of vacation on productivity and found that the majority of employees were more productive after a vacation.
This finding again reinforces the idea that breaks are an important component to staying productive.
Ways To Improve Your Productivity
While the findings above may convince you that 11 am on Monday and Tuesday is the only time in which you can be productive, the reality is that you can be productive whenever you want.
While it is not as easy as saying “I’m going to be productive now,” there are actionable steps that you can take to help improve your productivity. Below is a look at four different ways in which you can facilitate a more productive work day.
A common theme in the two analyses is that the most productive times of the day are those that are preceded by a period of rest and relaxation.
All too often those that are looking to improve their productivity chug caffeine to keep themselves awake to get more done. As illustrated above, you are most likely your most productive a couple hours after waking up and staying up later will not improve your productivity, but it will most likely impact your ability to be productive the following day.
Making self care a priority is not an easy task as it is easily dropped and considered a non essential luxury to have. A great way to make self care a habit is to start giving yourself mental reminders to take the time out of your day for yourself.
Actions like placing your skin care products on the bathroom counter so you know to take some self care time before bed, placing sticky notes around your house to remind you to take a walk or take a break from work, and even setting reminders to just pause and breathe for a few minutes can give you the gentle nudges that remind yourself that you need to take care of yourself.
Timed work cycles
Timed work cycles are somewhat of a hack to productivity because it allows you to accomplish mass amounts of work while also giving you plenty of time to rest your mind. This may seem impossible but timed work cycles are able to accomplish it and can allow you to be more productive over a larger span of time.
At its most basic, timed work cycles consist of predetermined amounts of time set aside for work and breaks. If you think of your work day as a sprint, it becomes clear as to why many people experience diminished productivity after hour four of working. Work cycles treat your work just like a long sprint and give you short breaks followed by short sprints of getting work done.
A popular timed work cycle is the Pomodoro method. The method consists of 25 minute sprints followed by 5 minute breaks. To be effective, the method requires you to focus on one task at a time and to not fall victim to distraction. While resisting distractions can be extremely difficult, over time you will develop mental calluses and will be able to block out distractions during your 25 minute sprint.
Each complete cycle of the Pomodoro method correlates to 30 minutes, and after two hours you can take an extended 15 minute break. This method works because it fragments your tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks by setting clear boundaries. Additionally, the relatively short 25 minutes can help motivate you as you can look at the timer and convince yourself to keep pushing till your break.
Productivity is a measure of how much you are able to do with the time allotted to you. Without distraction it is relatively easy to stay on track and work productively with your time.
When distractions enter the equation it becomes increasingly difficult to be productive as your attention is constantly diverted from the task at hand.
While it is nearly impossible to remove all distractions, there are steps you can take to eliminate common distractors.
The first of which is to find a place for your phone that is out of sight and out of mind. Phones have constant notifications that attempt to pull you from your work and by placing it away, you can effectively mitigate its distracting abilities.
Another thing that you can do is eliminate the distraction of sounds around you. It isn’t uncommon for people to utilize earplugs or noise canceling headphones while working. These both act by putting a physical barrier between you and the sounds of the environment around you.
One study even found that loud environments can have a negative impact on your ability to perform. By blocking these noises and perhaps even pairing noise eliminating devices with work cycles, you can effectively stay in the zone distraction free.
The last method for improving your productivity is to live a healthier lifestyle. Your diet and exercise routines are important to your overall well being. Both diet and exercise can have drastic impacts on your mood, health, ability to focus, and energy level.
All of these factors play into your ability to be productive. By striving to have a healthy lifestyle through taking supplements that support your mind, making time to get in some exercise, and grocery shopping your way toward a healthy diet, you can facilitate a greater ability to be productive.
Wrapping up, according to two studies, the most productive day of the week is Tuesday, and the most productive time of day is around 11 am. While these findings can be insightful, they are not determinants of your ability to be productive.
By utilizing the rejuvenating powers of self-care, the power of work cycles, removing distractions, and living a healthy lifestyle, you can work to make every day of the week a productive day.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.