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Struggle To Stay Focused On Friday Afternoon? You Wouldn't Be Alone, Study Finds

Sarah Regan
August 25, 2023
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
woman sitting at desk looking at ipad
Image by miniseries / Istock
August 25, 2023

Modern life demands our focus and productivity, and on a good day, we're able to tackle our responsibilities and deadlines with ease. There are other days, however, where we're not as on-the-ball, and according to new research published in the journal PLOS ONE, we now know when those days (and times) tend to be. Here's what they found.

Studying productivity throughout the week

For the study, researchers wanted to study worker productivity throughout the week, using computer usage as a metric for assessing that productivity. They studied just under 800 office workers at a large company for two years, keeping track of things like typing speed, typos, mouse clicks, scrolling, etc.

Then, they compared those usage patterns based on time of day, and day of the week, looking for any notable patterns.

And sure enough, if you've ever felt like your productivity drops off on Friday, this study found that to be true. Namely, computer usage tended to increase during the week, then showed a significant drop-off on Friday. There also tended to be more mistakes made on Fridays, and in the afternoon on any given day.

As study co-author Taehyun Roh Ph.D. explains in a news release, "Employees were less active in the afternoons and made more typos in the afternoons—especially on Fridays," adding, "This aligns with similar findings that the number of tasks workers complete increases steadily from Monday through Wednesday, then decreases on Thursday and Friday."

What to do about it

This research provides useful findings both employees and employers alike, with the study authors noting they hope flexible work arrangements can not only improve productivity, but also improve worker's wellbeing—and even the wellbeing of the planet through reduced electricity and carbon dioxide emissions.

"Flexible work arrangements, such as hybrid work or a four-day workweek, may help mitigate the negative effects of long workweeks and promote better employee well-being and productivity," the study authors add.

But even if you aren't going to get a four-day workweek any time soon, you can apply these findings to your own workflow. For instance, if you, like the study participants, experience less productivity and more typos during afternoons and on Friday, perhaps you stack your work day to have less going on in the afternoons and toward the end of the week, leaving the bulk of your work for mornings and earlier in the week.

The takeaway

As more and more companies get on the four-day workweek train, these findings suggest that it may be a smart move for employers, employees, and the planet alike. But even beyond the four-day workweek, it's well worth understanding our daily/weekly dips versus peaks in productivity, so we can align our schedules accordingly.

Sarah Regan author page.
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.