Last month I moved to a four day work week.
I know, right! If you know me this is actually a big deal. I find it really hard to switch off so for the past few years I've been pretty much working all.the.time.
After a very up and down 2018, I knew 2019 was going to be busy. I was already fully booked for the first few months (yay!) and I had so many ideas for things I wanted to do with the business. After two weeks away over Christmas and New Year I was refreshed and ready to go.
And then January happened. This quote did the rounds on Instagram at the end of January and I can safely say I’ve never found a more accurate representation of how I was feeling.
After one month, I was honestly feeling the same way I did at the end of 2018.
The thing was, I knew February was going to be even worse. It is a shorter month, and I had a lot going on personally as well as all my client work (weddings, hens weekends in Sydney etc.)
By the end of February, I was burnt out. I had spent absolutely no time on my business (I think I posted on my social media a grand total of five times over two months) and actually found myself feeling so stressed out about work, I wasn’t enjoying it.
Things needed to change.
If I was going to make this a sustainable business in the long run and not have a complete breakdown, I knew I needed to make some drastic changes.
Now I've tried all sorts of routines and schedules over the years but to be honest I stick to them for about a week and then go back to my old habits.
So I decided to make a big call. I would move to a 4 day working week. Yep, I would take an entire day off for me.
First of all I had to work out which day would be best. I decided on taking Fridays off so that I could feel like I had finished the work for the week and would actually be able to switch off.
- changed my client contracts and contact page to reflect the new changes.
- popped an out of office auto-responder email on for Friday and the weekend explaining my hours.
- sent an email to my clients explaining the changes and asked them to keep this in mind when allocating tasks
- rejigged my week so that everything would be done by Thursday
My "rules" for the day were I could spend a few hours on Lorraine Virtual things. I could check emails and Trello but couldn’t respond to them. And I would take the whole afternoon off for me.
The first few Fridays were hard. I felt like I couldn’t really switch off. Spending time on Lorraine Virtual actually felt like work and I’d still respond to a few client things here and there.
By the last Friday of the month, I started to finally feel like I was slipping into a good routine. I actually didn't do any work for the e n t i r e day. I did some housework, took a trip to Kmart, gave my bedroom a mini makeover and spent the afternoon sewing for the first time in over six months.
I had forgotten what it was like to not work / think about work all the time. And I absolutely loved it.
What I noticed / learnt
There were a few takeaways from this first month of four days a week.
- I need to be really strict with the no working at all on Fridays. This is how I've slipped back into old habits before.
- The world doesn't end when I am not working (I know shock horror)
- I am actually craving my Fridays off by the end of the week
- The best one...I am actually happier and more content with my work
I still do a little bit of work on the weekends, but I'm hoping the more I can utilise my time during the week, the less time I'll need to spend working out of hours (baby steps!)
Have you ever thought about taking a 4 day work week? How would it change your business?