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Why I only work a 4 day week

Dear 25 year old me,

You don’t work five days week anymore, in fact, you haven’t done so for several years. Before you either a) give me a high five for “making it” or b) shake your head in shame thinking that future you is a slacker, hear my story first and tell me if you’d do it another way.

It started off on one fine day when you got asked to teach at ECU (Edith Cowan University). At this time you’re working full time in a career that you were and still are very passionate about. There’s something about teaching though that you can see would be such a rewarding experience, so you were sure to make time for it.

You decide to take the opportunity. The first step you take is reducing your work hours at the agency but it’s not an easy sell because you’re one of the key players. Honestly, at this point, you do feel quite guilty because you don’t know what will happen to the business without you there as much.

It’s a risk.

What prevails though, is groundbreaking for you, your career, and your journey.

Fascinatingly, not one, but two project managers were hired full time to fill the 9 less contact hours as result of you pursuing your new found teaching ambitions. It always kind of seemed normal, albeit tiring, to do three people’s job roles (literally) before then.

What you learn about yourself from this enlightening experience is that you’ll just keep working and working… and working. Even though it might feel like too much or overwhelming at times, you’ll just keep going. I’m afraid this trait is equally bad as it is good, and it’s certainly not a plan built for longevity.

Years on, you’re no longer teaching (that’s another whole blog post… perhaps even its’ own category!) but you’re not back to five days a week, nor do you foresee yourself going back to that – ever, really.

You created the flexible workplace but it’s an odd thing to explain how the dynamics can work.

You have more responsibility in the business now and as a co-owner, it’s only in your best interest to do all you can to help it be as successful as possible. So why aren’t you working full time again? As an aside, you do work a full time week’s worth of contact hours again, but condensed into four days instead. You’re probably working harder, but actually smarter, now than you ever did.

Tuesday has now been cemented as your day for personal growth and development, and you won’t waiver from this resolve. Who wins from this?

  1. The business: will benefit from my development and reap the rewards of my new skills and knowledge in multiple ways.
  2. My co-workers: will also enjoy these benefits and inspirational finds, but will also enjoy a positive and energised version of me day to day.
  3. You (and therefore my friends and family): you can’t even begin to imagine the list of positive impacts. Naturally, by staying true to investing time in yourself, you become more positive, spend more time with family and have more capacity to make better decisions. You also allow yourself an opportunity to pursue your potential.

Although this approach has really helped you flourish personally and professionally. In turn, the business has benefited and grown with you too.

In the same breath, it’s also not for everyone.

We trialled a few different team members on the same kind of flexible arrangement, sometimes it worked well and other times, well, it was disastrous.

The key formula, in my opinion, is that you can’t decide to do this selfishly. If you’re doing it for healthy reasons and are considerate of the impact on others, even exploring how you can “give back” in your decision making process, then by all means.

It’s also not a walk in the park. It’s hard work – much harder work – and you need to be prepared to put in the effort and give even more when needed.

Five working days condensed into four days. It’s possible and it can work, but only if you can manage a true balance where nothing else needs to suffer as a result.

Until next week.

Cheers,

Patima x