Making the 4 day workweek work

  • Posted on: 5 February 2020
  • By: Sander

From time to time you hear about the 4 day work week. Proponents of it point to our increased productivity and stress. Detractors point out things such as our wages already being too low and people working two or even three jobs to get by. Some even think it a simple case of lazy people wanting to get by doing less work. As a long time freelancer I have a different view. I have long wanted to write about this, but today I had a bit of an epiphany which inspired me to write about it.

I have frequently found myself to have incredibly productive days where I accomplish as much in one day as many others might accomplish with a week's work. Other times I drag along for weeks on end, not taking a day off at all while I try to finish a big project. Such can be the life of a freelancer, where one controls their own schedule. You work tirelessly when you have work, tallying up the hours and trying to beat the clock. Other times you have no contracts so you are either twiddling your thumbs or searching for work - a task that is only practical for a certain number of hours a day. You can spend 2-3 hrs combing for new clients and work, but if you keep at it much longer you won't discover any better or new results. 

Yesterday was one of those uber-productive days. I blew through a whole list of tasks, and was quite successful at them. It was a long and tiring day, but I was proud of the fact that I got so much done. But then today came around. I was exhausted. I took naps through the day, and while I was still somewhat productive, it was all things that didn't require me leaving the house and much of the day was relaxing. It isn't that I don't have things I need to do, it was that my brain was still burnt out from the things I did yesterday. 

Thinking about it I realized this is a common pattern. I suddenly thought what if that is actually the best way to work? Let me propose this, and base it on our odd week construct. What if for example we worked Monday and Tuesday, took Wednesday off, then Worked Thursday and took Friday off. Saturday we work again and then take Sunday off? It is only one day more off than people have now, but gives constant refreshers, and companies could stagger the schedule so they always have enough people around. Another who wishes to have two days in a row off might take only one day off during the week and still keep a two day weekend. But the productivity gain of having days off in the middle rather than a 3 day weekend cannot be underestimated. I know I am far more productive on the days I work if I take days off in between.