I work four days a week and think you should too
It is ‘Housework Wednesday’ today.
About a year ago I introduced a four day week into my working life. Born from the fact that my Dad only worked mornings on a Wednesday as he played golf in the afternoons, it became a unconscious habit to knock off a little earlier that day.
It started off as a time to do my work admin from my comfy sofa - catch up on accounts, clear those emails, plan those projects. Over time, it became what it is now known as 'Housework Wednesday'. It doesn’t always mean I’ll be scrubbing the loo or sorting out soggy food in the fridge but a day to just be a bit more present, do some of the personal to do list, see friends and complete the things that get pushed to the side and build up to the point that they get avoided.
I stopped and I felt it
The reason that I am writing about this today is that in January I stopped taking that precious Wednesday off. Although orders are definitely slower this year (it was going to happen when life looked more like 2019 again) I felt busy all the time. I haven’t switched off and I have suffered for it. I haven't felt like myself this year, not unhappy but just ‘off’. I felt consumed by The Letter Loft and there hasn’t been much brain power for anything else. I notice the consequences in the house, the garden, my relationships and my general well being.
I considered adding it back in at the beginning of February but I honestly felt guilty. Guilty that The Letter Loft would be neglected and I should be getting ahead: doing the Tik Toks, writing the newsletters, filming the how to’s and on and on. This is not who I am, I don’t feel guilt for not being part of hustle culture, I love a sit down. I love a rest. I used to rest a lot and fingers up to anyone that passed judgement. When did that change? Why did it change?
I could write an essay about social media and the comparisons we make everyday and how I feel that chipping away at my confidence but that isn’t what this post is about. I will briefly add that I think it is responsible though, along with any lingering Pandemic trauma.
Finding boundaries between life and work
After having a little word with myself I took a full Wednesday off again Mid March and wow, what a difference it makes. I honestly never knew it had such an impact. Aside from the fact the bathroom floor is sparkling, I re-found a part of Jodie that is not The Letter Loft. I had lost that separation. Working from home, being in lockdown and generally not leaving the house much at all, I started to fill that space with more work rather than more ‘life’.
Because I feel so passionate about flowers and all the things I create with them, anything I enjoyed about this just became about work. Urgh, there have been no boundaries, the lines have muddied. It is something I need to work on and yes I see the irony that I am writing this, for work, on my Wednesday. However, I felt inspired and that is a part of it - doing whatever the hell I fancy that day.
Doing all the things or none of the things
Today, I don’t feel guilty. I feel lighter and excited for my day ahead. I have done my house chores that need doing, I have some houseplants that need re-potting and some holes to dig. I start the day thinking about a few things I definitely want to achieve and then anything else is a bonus but if I decide to blow all that up and just sit and play Stardew Valley all day, so be it. In the words of Beyonce (and Digby*) I ain’t sorry.
Why a four day week?
My loves, its 2022. The 5 day work week has been a part of life since the 1920’s and it no longer works. Often both parties in a household work 5+ days a week unlike the decades before us. Where is there time to run a house, a garden, raise a family, see people, do a hobby, DO NOTHING. Everyone is exhausted and fed up of the grind. I love the quote about how humans could have chosen floating in oceans with fruit and yet we chose taxes and credit scores.** Where did it all go wrong? When did our value become about our jobs and how hard we work?
I think it is important to say that I am no less productive when I work four days, I work better and more focused (not longer) on Monday and Tuesday to allow for it. My customers don’t suffer for this choice and I am refreshed and inspired for Thursday and Friday. Yes, I have weekends off but that comes with a partner in crime and considerations for him. Wednesdays are for me.
The senseless slog is over
I also think it is important to say that I am aware of my privilege that I can do this and make this choice, this is a decision out of many people’s hands so I will say this…. if you are a boss, you will likely get more from your employees with this method and I think you should really consider it. Happy, healthy people make for happier, healthier teams.
I think the pandemic forced some new ideas about work culture. Everyone went home and the shit got done (where it could). I think with flexibility, some experimenting and trust this will be the future of business. It isn’t about working less (although it can be) it is about working smarter, either fully shutting down the business for a 72hr period or working flexibly where individuals can choose their four days. Research suggests that the optimal amount of intense cognitive work is no more than four hours a day anyway. The senseless slog is over.
Forbes has a great article about how this can be implemented within a business if you are interested in trialling it. Take a look at the companies Buffer and Kickstarter for how they have experimented with it. Ditching a few of those groan worthy meetings seems to help!
The impact on the planet
A perhaps not surprising knock on effect to a four day working week is the impact on our footprint. This study found a huge benefit to shifting to four days. By 2025, it would reduce the UK’s emissions by 127m tonnes (a reduction of more than 20%) and has been compared to taking the UK’s entire private car fleet off the road.
A four day week for a business could mean less traffic congestion, less electricity consumption (air conditioning, lights, lifts etc) and reduced waste (all those Starbucks coffee cups ;) and if we are to go all in, if you have an extra day off, are you more likely to fix that broken toaster rather than whip a new one off amazon? Maybe not, but you get my point. More time, less expenditure in every way.
Do you remember hearing the world when we had the big rest in 2020? The air was clearer, nature made a come back. Although the impact wouldn’t be so immediate and poignant, it would be a great leap in the right direction for battling climate change. This ‘pro’ should hopefully be the decider if you are on the fence.
I don’t really want to write any because I see the true value but the cons I researched seem to centre on ‘its not for everybody’. I guess there in lies the joy of it though. It is about being flexible and finding a way for it suit you and your business. It doesn’t have to mean shutting down fully but is about seeing your employees (and yourself) as humans, with value and meaning outside of your day job and with that, the knock on effect on productivity from quality rest and joy.
Even in my little working from home world it increases my self worth, happiness, health and productivity. I can’t say more than that.
* Digby is my beagle who is #sorrynotsorry
** I couldn't find the source of this so if anyone has a link could you send it to me