Paperstone – The brilliant office life, work and fun blog

Office Supplies Wednesday

blue monday
Was Blue Monday miserable for you?

Apparently, Monday 17 January 2011, was the most depressing day of the year. At least according to some dubious “mathematics” concocted to sell holidays some years ago.

In January 2005, Cardiff University psychology lecturer, Dr Cliff Arnall, lent his name to an equation-backed claim that the Monday of the last full week of January was the most miserable day in the calendar. The dodgy maths cited seven factors including weather, debt and time since Christmas. The concept of an official “Blue Monday” was used by Sky Travel to sell holidays and crystallised as it was regurgitated on “And Finally…” news items.

In fact, this calendrical calculus was pure invention, the creation of PR company Porter Novelli working for Sky Travel who wanted a sales pitch for holidays at the end of January, just after people’s first pay check of the year.

Having made up the maths, Porter Novelli sought out an academic willing to attach his or her name to it for cash. So went the pitch email for this purpose:

Blue Monday – January Blues Day is Officially Announced

The 26th January is the most depressing day in the calendar for the majority of Brits as measured by simple mathematical formula developed on behalf of Sky Travel.

By taking into various factors such as avg temperature (c), days since last pay (P), days until next Bank Holiday (B), avg hours of daylight (D) and number of nights in during mth (N), we create a formula such as


This formula allows us to work out the day with the highest ‘depression factor’ which you can then use as a focus for making things better, booking your holiday etc…

Carry out the research to create the formula through ##### ####### for Sky Travel trying to see if there are patterns to booking periods… this gives the formula credibility as it is believable a travel company would do this kind of research and that a pattern has emerged…

Nick Woods
Porter Novelli

(Via Ben Goldacre)

Arnall was the man who stepped up to front the rubbish.

Along similar terms, we’ve decided that today is “Office Supplies Wednesday” based on the formula (D²/I) +2F, where D is days since last office supply order, I is the amount of ink left in printer cartridges, while F is the general fondness for ring binders.

It turns out that if you aggregate and then average out the scores for each day across Britain, the third Wednesday of January scores highest in the year, mainly because of low printer ink levels on this day.

“Mid- to late-January is a great time of year to buy office supplies,” says Dirk Bukowski PhD., Enabilizer of Math at the Rainbow Bright American School of Business Opportunity on Edgware Road. “I estimate that the sight of fresh stationery in early Q1 increases worker self-happiness by a factor of 2.5 and production effectivity by a factor of 1.8.”


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