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In June I read an interesting book by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang about
how to make a 4-day working week become a reality. The book makes a compelling case
for how companies can implement a 4-day working week, benefiting employees
immensely (who don't have to take a pay cut) as well as having a positive
impact on productivity. I was drawn to it having listened to a podcast by Amy
Porterfield who runs a $multi-million digital business (albeit with around 20
employees) and has made the 4-day work week a success in her business.
Well, given that one of my Values is "harmony" (read
work-life harmony) I used one of my favourite energising strengths -
"Action-taking" and decided to reduce my working week to 4 days
during July and August. I figured that this was usually a quiet time with
clients and that, as my husband has Fridays off, that this would be a good day
to also take time off and spend some days with him. I would activate my
out-of-office every Friday and move all my Friday "end of week" tasks
to complete on Thursday.
Sounds like a plan, right?
What actually happened
The first Friday in July was perfect with beautiful weather. I
spent the morning at a workshop making a willow obelisk for the garden and the
afternoon going for a run and practising guitar. This was living the dream and
it felt amazing.
In the second week, I swapped my "day off" to Tuesday as
I had a scheduled supervision session on Friday for most of the day. The
Tuesday also had clement weather and I completed an 18-mile hike with a friend.
Week 3 was pretty great too. I had a coaching meet-up on the
Friday which was semi-social followed by lunch with a friend.
However, by week 4 things had started to unravel a little bit. For
some reason I decided to have two half days off instead of a full day. This was
OK and I did manage a sea swim with a friend on Thursday morning plus some
paddle boarding on Friday afternoon.
But it didn't feel as relaxing as the
first two weeks.
By the end of July and for all of August, the experiment was
pretty much in failure mode. I had forgotten that Friday is normally a
"turnaround" day for our holiday let cottage (a side hustle) and I
was on August duty with the gardening there. Although this wasn't exactly
"work", it also didn't feel spontaneous enough to count as leisure.
Added to this that the weather was cold and wet and my motivation to be
frolicking in the great outdoors was also dwindling. I had also failed to take
into account that I was launching a new product in September which required a
lot of work in August...
So, out of the 9 Fridays that I was going to have off, I managed a
pure "day off" on only one :-/
Fail and learn
The reason for sharing this anecdote, of course, is to derive some
learning from this failed experiment - so that I can do it better next time (oh
yes, there will be a next time) and so that you can maybe learn from my failure
too. So, what did I learn?
What you can do
Even if experimenting with a 4-day week isn't realistic for you right
now, I wonder if there are small changes you could make to get a more melodic
work-life harmony (or balance, fit, integration, whichever works for you)? Here
are some questions to help you figure that out:
I'd love to hear your commitment if you want to share and create accountability. I am committing to one Friday off a month and spending (at least part of it) with my husband, starting on October (15th). I will report back to you at the end of the year and let you know how I got on!
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