For the most part I’m not a bragger, but one thing I LOVE shouting about from the rooftops is my 4-day work week. I am so proud of the life I built that I can take Fridays off each and every week with ease. And I truly believe it’s possible for every entrepreneur. For real. Wanna know how I do it?
How it all began
It started when I was hired as a coach for a marketing agency. When I negotiated my package, I decided to work only 4 days so I could spend the 5th day working on my own business. Over time when I left that company, I decided I liked having the extra day off in my calendar so I kept doing it. Eventually, when my daughter was born, Fridays became the day I got to spend with her while my partner got to work on his own business. Now that for the past month my daughter is away during the day (living her best life at Forest Preschool!) I have a completely free Friday again.
Not all my Fridays are idyllic days of relaxation, but last week I started the day with a hike, played a board game with my partner, had a delicious lunch, then knit for the rest of the afternoon. For me, that was a perfect day. Other times we take a long weekend to visit family, and sometimes I run errands. I just take it one week at a time.
Is it really possible for me?
I’ve been coaching for nearly a decade now, and it’s still very rare, even in the entrepreneur world, to see people actually working less despite the fact that most people become entrepreneurs because they want a better lifestyle. Most entrepreneurs I’ve met are actually working more than 5 days, getting “caught up” on the weekends or in the evenings.
So if you’re one of those people who thinks “lucky you” or “that would be nice”, how can you have a 4-day work week too?
It all starts in the decision. Then the “how” can follow.
It might not be an overnight transition but you CAN run a successful business in less time.
The key word to keep in mind is INTENTIONALITY. When life stops happening TO you, and you start being intentional about the direction of your life, you’ll be much closer to making this work.
You get to choose:
· When you check your email
· What your acceptable response time is to messages
· How active you are on social media (or how often you mindlessly scroll)
· What clients you take (and what clients you fire)
· What you charge
· What work you do and what work you delegate
· What distractions you allow in your day
· Which meetings are worth your time, and which ones you should just decline
And maybe the hardest one…you get to choose which thoughts you allow in your head.
Does it have to be Fridays I take off?
Nope, of course not. I have found, though, that the world is still on a Monday-Friday rhythm so Fridays seem to be the easiest for people to understand. I think you could possibly get away with Mondays off since most people are focused on getting back into things they tend not to notice if you’re slower to reply, but in my experience telling people you take Fridays off is usually met with admiration (or jealousy) and understanding instead of frustration.
Okay, so how do I actually do it?
Assuming you’ve decided you want to do it, you’ve chosen a day, and you’re excited to start, here are my basic tips for working a 4-day work week:
· Tell people! They’ll expect you to be working unless you tell them you aren’t. You don’t have to make a big deal of it if you don’t want to, or you can make an announcement. I like to remind clients on a regular basis when I talk to them. It sounds like this “Great, I’m happy to read that over if you get it to me by Thursday. Otherwise I won’t be able to look at it until Monday.” Or sometimes on Voxer I will say “Okay, sounds like you know what you’re working on. Get to it! I’ll be back on Monday if you have any more questions.”
· Put it in your calendar so you don’t book projects or clients. It’s okay if you decide to start in a few weeks while you reschedule things and getting organized. Just get it in there! (Also if you’re using a booking calendar, update that as well)
· Know your capacity so you don’t have to work the extra day or in the evenings to make up for work you didn’t get done. Be realistic about what you can get done (and what needs to get done) and leave the rest for later. A beautiful thing happens when you have constraints…you work faster and ditch the things that aren’t important!
· Decide what you want to do when you’re not working. Don’t get bored and then decide to work because you have nothing else to do.
· Turn off notifications so you aren’t drawn to checking work stuff on your days off.
· Just start doing it. You’ll figure it out as you go 😊
If I’m being honest, the hard part is sticking to it. Even after many years, I still get tempted to book “a really important call” on a Friday. My best advice for that is to push back twice. You don’t have to over-explain, but just a simple “that day doesn’t work for me, can you do this other day instead?” is really effective. I do that twice. Then if it’s REALLY important and they REALLY can’t do any other day, I might, maybe budge. I will tell you, though…when the time comes to do that call I am often pretty resentful. It’s almost never worth it for me to break my boundaries because I end up dreading it.
And THEN what?
It’s completely possible that you have the best intentions and you still can’t get the day off to stick. You might be able to do a half day, or every other week…or maybe there’s something else going on. You might be butting up against a lack of confidence, scarcity mindset, fear of conflict or criticism, overwhelm, or something else deep inside that’s preventing you from having the life you really want. Might be a good idea to talk to a coach and find out what’s really going on. My “Get out of Your Head” sessions are perfect for diving deep into one particular topic and uncovering what’s going on. You can learn more about them and book here. You may also have a business problem where you legitimately have too much work and too little time to do it in. I can help with that, too.
Let me know — how many days a week do you work? Think this could work for you? If you’re already doing it, please share your story and inspire others!