4 Day Work Week

It’s a been a month since I switched from a 5 day work week to a 4 day work week, so I thought it’s time for a little recap.

In order to cover the boring details, I’ll quickly answer some of the most common questions I’ve received so far:

How many hours do you work?
32 hours per week, which makes 8 hours per day.

Are you ok with getting less money?
My standard contract is based on 35 hours per week, so reducing it by 3 hours doesn’t make a huge difference. Plus I got a salary raise (yay!) which makes the decrease even less big.

Why didn’t you reduce even more then?
I can actually imagine to reduce to 28 hours a week, because working 8 hours every day sometimes feels like a stretch. And I’m probably productive for only 5 hours anyways. However, I also started a new job and wanted to see how it goes, how much there is to do, and how well I manage to organise my work.

And now the more interesting question I will take more time to answer...

How does it feel?

Pretty awesome. Why? For so many reasons.

I’m able to disconnect from work

The best thing about a 4 day work week is that you don’t only reduce the number of work days, but also increase the number of off days – makes sense, right?

My off day is Monday, so I extended my weekend by one day. This additional day of weekend let me completely step away from work, something I previously only achieved when going on a short vacation.

It has a tiny downside though: It makes it harder to connect again.
I found it difficult to get back up to speed when returning to work on Tuesday, but I learned that this can be easily solved by better self-organisation. For instance, a to do list with marked priorities saves me one hour on a Tuesday morning figuring out what I wanted to do next.

I allow myself to rest

The last time I have slept as much as in the past month was during my studies. What is true for some people when they’re hungry applies to me when I didn’t get enough sleep: I’m not the same person (or rather a less adorable version of myself).

Nowadays, it has become fashionable to be busy, to optimise your schedule and thrive for higher performance. There seems to be little acceptance and appreciation for sleep, boredom and doing nothing. If you feel you need to relax, you probably plan your next holiday or go to a spa, rather than staying home and doing nothing. But even going on holiday or to the spa is is still doing something.

Meditation and yoga reminded me, how important it is to properly rest mind and body, but I found it very hard to accomplish with a long list of to dos and only two days of weekend. Even when I said to myself ‘now I’m taking a bath to relax’, it became another to do squeezed between watering the plants and meeting a friend.

Only after I knew that I had a third day to take care of those to dos, no matter which day it is, I gave myself the permission to not just rest for 1-2 hours, but for a whole day.

I’m more aware

What happens if you allow yourself to rest? You become less caught up in your daily life and more aware of your surroundings, which can serve as massive source of inspiration.

These days, I sometimes wake up with an idea for a product and write it down in a notebook lying on my bedside table. When I go through my neighbourhood, I see things I have never noticed before. And I finally continued designing my website which I hadn’t touched for half a year.

I’m still in the process of figuring out what I want to do with my additional free day – or if I even want to do anything specific at all. But being more aware and inspired makes me feel confident that I will eventually come up with something.

I do things I love

In the last couple of years, I spent a good amount of time figuring out what I like doing. Inspired by the book ‘The Why Are You Here Cafe’, I tried out many different things, from different kinds of sports, DIY workshops, joining activists from my neighbourhood for initiatives to taking piano lessons.

But if you only have little free time and this little free time is filled with housekeeping and maintaining relationships, there is neither time to actually pursue interests, nor time to reflect what was fun and what was not.

When I started to have more time for myself, my interests revealed themselves almost automatically:
In 2 months, I wrote 4 blog posts. In whole 2019, I didn’t write a single one.

This is not only a sign that I have more time to reflect, but it made one thing clear: I enjoy writing.
I never planned to start writing again. It just happened to be what I was doing most.

So the greatest lesson I learned from my 4 day work week so far is:

You won’t discover your interests by squeezing them between to dos. You have to allow yourself to be bored. And you’ll be surprised what you’re going to do out of this boredom.