Brilliant Chemistry

Why Do Calendars Start With Sunday?

Posted by Mike

When I work to try and improve my time mangement, sometimes the answer is a better tool.  Sometimes the answer is a change in process.  What I describe here is single drop down preference change.

Have you ever looked at a U.S. calendar and thought about how it is laid out?

Take, for example, the default calendar app on a Mac, right out of the box:

calendar with weeks starting on sunday

Sunday on the left side, Saturday on the right side?

Days of the week across the top. Rows as individual weeks. On the surface, it all makes sense and it is the way I have looked at a calendar my entire life.

But dig deeper.  Isn’t it strange that the first column is Sunday, but most of us think of the end of the week as Sunday?  I look forward to the weekend.  It is the “END” of the week.  Monday is a whole new world.  Why, then, is this the default view every calendar I have ever seen?

Looking at this, my weekend is split into two.  My weekend is combined with the rest of the days in the week.  Saturday and Sunday are a bookend.  This feels messy.  It feels disorganized.

But, what if I made a slight tweak by changing my calendar preferences to set Monday as the first day of the week?

calendar with weeks starting on monday

Change week to start with Monday?

That’s much better. Now, I am able to visually partition my weekend from my work week.  It’s a small change, but it helps with organizing my time. My time management is now easier. Separating work life from family life “feels” easier.

But Why?

We still haven’t yet answered the “Why?” in this post.

According to Wikipedia, the standard, ISO 8601, specifies that weeks start with Monday.  However, this wasn’t published until 1988.  It appears that the practice of Sunday starting the week is based in religion.  Again, Wikipedia on the topic of Sunday: “In the Judaic, some Christian, as well as in Islamic tradition, Sunday has been considered as the first day of the week.”

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