Need to know: These are the times, days and months that science says you are most productive

30 January 2018 -

Productivity CalendarYou’re most productive at 11am on Mondays in October, according to recent research

Elizabeth Oliver

It’s just a few weeks into 2018, and your inboxes are growing, and those New Year’s resolutions are proving a challenge. As the upcoming months start to fill up with meetings and deadlines, how can you plan your diary to maximise productivity?

A recent survey by Californian-based management platform Redbooth analysed data from hundreds of thousands of users to track productivity spikes and slumps in the workplace. The research gathered information on the times, days, weeks and months that users were most efficient.  Here, we reveal its key findings.

The time of day

The survey found that 11am is the most productive time of the day, with 9.7% of tasks completed at this hour. This supports previous scientific research into energy and efficiency levels, which found that around 75% of people were the most mentally alert between 9am and 11am.

According to scientists, this mid-morning period syncs with our bodies’ circadian rhythms – our 24-hour internal clocks that tell us when to wake up, eat and sleep. The more that work coincides with these rhythms, the greater your productivity.

If you’re hoping to cross that complex task off your to-do list, avoid working on it between 2pm and 3pm, as this marks a low energy point.

The day of the week

It’s time to forget the Monday blues, as the start of the working week is when our minds are sharpest. The research revealed that 20.4% of tasks were completed on this day, as people return to work physically and mentally refreshed. Tuesday was another high-performing day, with 20.2% of tasks completed.

However, the survey found that as the working week progresses, our productivity levels drop. Thursday and Friday were the lowest-performing days, with just 18.6% and 16.7% of tasks completed respectively.

The month

Perhaps surprisingly, the findings revealed a significant difference in monthly productivity levels.  Scooping the accolade for the most efficient month was October, with 9.5% of tasks completed over this period. Across the board, the autumnal months saw an increase in productivity levels, with 9% of tasks completed in November, and 8.8% of tasks finished in September. The post-summer holiday energy was thought to be a contributing factor behind this.

At the other end of the scale, January was found to be the worst performing month, with just 7.2% of tasks completed during this period. But, the findings showed that the productivity slump continued long into the winter, with only 22.8% of tasks completed across the season.  The long winter nights were thought to account for this decline in productivity.

How to boost your productivity at work

Workload soaring?  Don't worry - follow our tips to maximise your output in the office.

  • Tackle complex projects early in the day. Make the most of your peak brain power and plough through those daunting tasks on your to-do list.  Avoid checking your emails in the morning - this will drain your productivity.
  • To combat the post-lunch slump, devote this time to smaller tasks, such as cleaning out your inbox, or organising your files.
  • Schedule longer meetings for the afternoon. Again, capitalise on your morning energy surge to flex your creativity.
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