The first time I said it, I think I was in high school. “Why is the work week five days long, and the weekend only two? Why don’t we cut the workweek back to four days?”
I know I said it often back when I worked in corporate radio.
Then, many years later, I read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. His proposal that one can work only four hours a week made my ambition to work only four days a week seem modest by comparison.I immediately decided to cut my workweek back to four days.
It worked great for a while, then my work week crept back up to five days… then six… then seven.
I worked myself down to a frazzle, repented, and went back to the four-day workweek.
I repeated the cycle a few times.
What I’ve learned is, it takes discipline, but it’s possible to work only four days a week. More encouraging, my experience shows me that I’m actually more productive and more profitable when I practice this schedule.
Now, here are my tips for how to successfully work a four-day workweek.
- Make the decision. The root word for “decision” means literally “to cut off”. As elementary as it sounds, the first step is to simply decide that you are going to draw this line in the sand, and that you are going to stick to it.
- Make it clear to others. My company operating procedure includes the clear message to both colleagues and clients that I work Monday through Thursday. I am not available Friday through Sunday.
- Do an “80/20 assessment” on your business. Chances are, according to the Pareto Principle, 80% of the positive results in your business flow from 20% of your activities. This means that 80% of what you’re currently doing is probably a waste of time. Don’t believe it? Read this book and form your own conclusions. The good news is, you can easily trim enough fluff from your schedule that losing an extra workday each week will not make a negative difference.
- Work in blocks of focused time. During the four days that you are working each week, plan your time in what I call “focus blocks”. Identify the 20% of activities that actually produce results for you, and commit specific blocks of time to those activities. Use a digital timer to keep yourself on track. Experience the joy of uber-productivity.
- Delegate and outsource like a person obsessed. The quickest and best way to shave an entire day off your workweek is to figure out what things you are doing that could be done by someone else-and then hand them off to someone else. Quick calculation: figure out what you get paid per hour, and anything that could be done by someone for far less than that hourly wage… should be.
The simple act of compressing your work week to four days will have a positive effect on your productivity all by itself. In fact, it will force you to become more conscious of how productive you actually are. My experience, and that of my friends and colleagues who have tried this, shows me that you will end up producing more work product in four days than you did in five. Or six. Or seven.
Question: what techniques have made you more productive, while simultaneously reducing the actual hours you work?