*Since this article, I have switched to a 3-day workweek, starting January 2020. Post soon on how that’s going!
Perhaps this article needs retitling.
I have switched to a 4-day work week, but it’s simply a milestone along the way as I’m transitioning to a four-hour workweek.
A few years ago, I read Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek and knew that was going to be the goal.
An efficient, deep-focused four hours of work every week over 45 working weeks in the year was all I needed to be able to get the results that I wanted from my business. That’s 180 hours per year. When I put it in that perspective, it suddenly seems like a lot of time.
I also realized that getting to a four-hour workweek was going to be a huge shift in mindset more than anything else.
I needed those four hours to be total power hours – hours when I’m in my zone and getting stuff done – if I wanted them to count. So I started to take gradual steps, make small adjustments to the way I approached work, to the way I delegated to my team, and to the way I managed client expectations.
I can tell you this much – it’s hard going from ‘Always Available’ to ‘Closed for Long Weekend’, but that’s part of the shift in mindset I’m talking about. It takes a degree of confidence to be able to make it happen, and a belief in your work.
How It Used to Be
Initially, I used to work a six-day week. I would always set Friday aside for family time, but I was still somewhat plugged in to work on the day off. I’d tune out of whatever family activity I was engaged in to answer a client email or a text.
Step 1: Unplugged Fridays
So changing that was the natural first step. I decided no work-related emails or texts on Friday. I started to keep a ‘business phone’ and a ‘personal phone’, and the business phone went on silent come Thursday night.
My personal number was only with my team, and with family and friends.
This worked alright for a while, but then the lines started to blur a little. Remember a few days ago I wrote about my right-fit client? Well, my clients were also my friends, and some of my friends became my clients.
Step 3: Eliminating Saturdays from the work week
Saturdays for my team and I were always planned to be power days. We’d have four client meetings lined up, and we’d all have put in significant hours to get all our propositions in place for those meetings.
And we’d all be pumped up for the meetings, but sadly, almost 50% of them got canceled. Clients either got busy with personal commitments or were exhausted from their weeks. And well, we had to understand.
But what they didn’t understand was all the man-hours that went into prepping for the meeting on our end, and the day’s pay for my team who had given up their Saturdays to be at work. Plus, we’d have to rework all the numbers for the next meeting whenever it happened to be.
It was a colossal waste for all of us, so that needed to go.
So we started to ‘train’ our clients, and get them to understand that Fridays & Saturdays were non-business days.
Step 3: No-weekend demands products and clients only
This cut-off also meant that we needed to take on clients and offer product suites that did not need our time or attention over the weekend.
Since Life Insurance is a long-term financial planning tool, typically, this worked out alright, because we didn’t need to react to stock and equity movements on-the-go.
But not every client is comfortable with that. Some want to meet and discuss their personal finances over breakfast on Friday. Those weren’t the clients for me.
So our no-weekend policy became a qualifier – if a client needed to meet over weekends, then we weren’t the right advisors for them.
With some of our high-tier corporate executive clientele, this did mean that we would take on late evening meetings during the week. But that was a fair exchange for a no-business weekend – sometimes.
Step 4: Making my days off more meaningful
The whole point of cutting back is not just to free up and sleep in more, or get more downtime. For me, it’s always been about being able to do more of the things that fulfill me as a whole person.
I love my work, and it does fulfill me, of course, but so do my marathon training hours, my time at my CrossFit box, InnerFight, my mentoring initiatives, and my family time.
I could use more of all of those things, and I thought to myself: If working less, while still producing the same results can help me do more of all the other things I love, then why not?
So it became really important to me that as I scaled back to a four-day workweek, my extra day was still a day with a full calendar.
Packed with me-time stuff, sure, but a full calendar all the same so that it’s not blank time that I could put down a meeting for. Today if a client asks me to meet on a Thursday, I’m unavailable because I have somewhere else to be or something else to do already.
As of now, I use my Thursdays to mentor junior advisors, get in some serious training, and spend some time reading, watching, and learning new things. It’s not a ‘working day, but it fuels me to do better at everything – work and beyond. This is a day that energizes me.
Eventually, I’ll be scaling down to a three-day workweek, then two, and work my way down to the four-hour workweek.
It’s amazing to see how putting a cap on the time I have available to work has made me more efficient. I’ve learned to eliminate the unnecessary, delegate what I’m not great at, and deliver real value and impact within the time I cut out for work.
I’d love your thoughts on this – would you try a shift to a four-day workweek? Or do you, perhaps, already follow a system that works for you?