For the most of June, I wondered how I had managed to get a lot of work done in May. This might sound strange, but I did a lot in a four-day work week than I did working for the entire June. And here’s the kicker: I took 4 days off – one each week on top of weekends.
Funnily enough, I decided to pursue the four-day work week at the eleventh hour when the team at Buffer was about to start with it. Intrigued, I thought to myself: well, if a remote team can do it, why can’t I?
Of course, I had doubts. However, I had already promised myself I had to jump out of my comfort zone in 2020. So here I am – writing this piece after having tried the four-day work week system.
To cut to the chase for you: I was, surprisingly (or maybe not-so-surprisingly) productive and very well-focused. I was conscious about budgeting my time and I definitely picked up some time-saving hacks.
And now for the details:
What’s a four-day work week?
It’s what the name suggests: you work for four days in a work week and play for the rest of them. Put another way, you get a 3-day long weekend or any additional day off throughout the week.
But here’s something you need to be clear about: with the compressed week, you don’t squeeze in a week’s typical 40 hours into four days. Instead, you work for 32 hours.
See, when I say I find this work system interesting, I’m not alone.
About 40% of the workers in the US and a third around the would say they prefer a four-day week. Not only has Buffer tried it (who reported positive results and decided to try it out for the rest of the year), but teams at Basecamp and Treehouse also work for four days a week.
Not only that, Microsoft Japan tried this system with 3-day long weekends in 2019. Guess what they noticed? Their team productivity increased by a whopping 40%.
So, what is it that works for these folks as well as worked for me? Here’s my take:
1. Better time-budgeting.
With a compressed work week, I was aware I had limited time at my disposal. Knowing this meant I was budgeting my time carefully, thoughtfully allotting it to different tasks on my to-do list.
Often, I dedicate extra hours (literally) to researching something before writing an outline for a piece. That was not the case here. Being scrunched up for time meant I had to carefully divide it among tasks under various projects.
At the same time, I wasn’t saying ‘yes’ to everything that came my way because I had to make sure I was fulfilling the commitments I had already made for the month. It’s as Jason Fried, the Founder and CEO of Basecamp, summarizes, “fewer official working hours help squeeze the fat out of the typical work week.”
2. Better focus (seriously).
This one came as a surprise to me. And, it’s also probably the answer to my question: how come I achieved a lot more in May than in June?
But, truth be told, I wasn’t telling myself I could complete on Thursday what I couldn’t finish on Tuesday. So, lucky for me, the four-day week helped me bid farewell to procrastination.
Simultaneously, my concentration levels skyrocketed. Want proof? I wasn’t spending countless hours on each piece that I worked on. Since my focus was sharp, I was able to block distractions better and produce good quality work.
Also, my focus needed no reminding: I had only four days to check off items from my to-do list.
3. Excellent time to refresh
Let me tell you a secret: on some Mondays, I feel like I haven’t rested enough despite the weekend. So, I pull myself through the day, relying on caffeine to fuel me.
That’s unhealthy considering my job is to write, which is basically my passion and childhood dream. I’m sure you’d agree.
With a shortened week though, I was always excited to get back to my desk. Wondering why? Because I was spending quality time either resting or working on other side projects like my blog.
Evidence: I don’t have a monthly post up for June although I published a post in May as well as finished the draft to an eBook for my site.
In fact, it was during this compressed week that I designed infographics and build relationships with my industry peers by jumping on over 40-min long calls with them on Sundays. Ask me to do anything, even a phone call, on a Sunday normally and I’d dig a hole on the spot and disappear.
Some efficient time-saving hacks I learned:
Lastly, I picked up some productive hacks along the way too. Three of my favorites:
- Turned unnecessary client meetings into Loom video messages. Not only did I save my time this way, I let the client view my query or message at their leisure.
- Spent time on Twitter while riding a stationary (exercise) bike. This way, I cut back on the time I spent on Twitter for my business rather efficiently. And, I was exercising. Win-win!
- I went back to regularly using a notebook to keep track of the projects I was working on alongside my usual to-do list app and visual project management software.
That said, I think I learned an important lesson: dedicating adequate/just enough to different stages of writing content. Post the four-day week system, I’m finding myself better managing my time too.
Over to you
Try something new. Perhaps shake up your routine. Change can be tough to implement, but sometimes, it’s exactly what we need. Who knows you end up liking this four-day work week so much, you stick to it permanently. As for me: I’m definitely planning to give it a shot again.