Thinking of taking a day off? Experts say taking a Wednesday off can be more refreshing than taking a three-day weekend.
Taking a Wednesday off can break up the pace of a busy work week, allowing people a day to live on their own pace, explains Dawna Ballard, a communications professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a scholar of chronemics, the study of time and communication.
In an interview with Quartz, Ballard explained that the human experience of time is ordered by internal and external “pacers.” Internal pacers are unique to the individual (such as being a morning person or a night owl) while external pacers are put in place by the world.
The work week itself is an example of an external pacer, she said.
“Everyone has a different chronotype. Some people are slower moving, some people are faster moving,” Ballard said. “Our work, though, just goes and throws that out the window and says actually, this is how fast you have to work, this is when you have to work.”
Promotes harmony between internal and external pacers
If you’ve ever had a case of the Mondays, friction between your internal and external pacers could be to blame. Ballard offered up a social science perspective for why Mondays can be so difficult.
“You’re coming off from a weekend, where you do have your own pace,” Ballard said. “It’s having to go from your pacer, back to this other pacer, there’s that friction.”
However, having a free Wednesday can help interrupt the externally-dictated pacer of work. A mid-week break can give you a chance to get back to your internal rhythms, which can help to keep your external and internal pacers in sync.
“You start the week knowing, I only have two days on this rhythm and then I get back to mine, ” Ballard says. “There’s a greater sense of calm and control.”
Disrupts the pace of the week
Taking a long weekend may give workers a longer stretch of time to be on their own schedules, but it doesn’t disrupt the pacing of the work week.
“A free Wednesday builds space on either side, and shifts the balance between your pace and work’s—in your favor,” writes Annaliese Griffin for Quartz.
And when it comes time to dive back into the work week, employees who have taken Wednesday off may even have a more positive mood to show for it.
“People’s moods are oftentimes buoyed when they’re looking forward to enjoyable activities,” Steven Meyers, professor of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill., told HuffPost. “And that positive attitude can have residual effects, as people remember a fun, relaxing day, even after returning to reality.”
A mid-week breather could also translate to better results on work projects, Meyers said.
“Some work tasks actually improve when we put them aside to get a refreshed perspective,” he said. “We can approach them with a fresh set of eyes and have new ideas about how to complete the task.”