I apparently have a knack for trendsetting. Six years ago, I embarked on a work-from-home journey to improve my quality of life. Then the pandemic happened, and millions of Americans followed suit. And in January this year, I started another trend: the four-day workweek.
I’m kidding, of course. I know I didn’t invent the four-day workweek. But I now see companies experimenting with this same approach in order to retain employees.
I can’t speak for everyone. But for me, dropping a whole workday from my schedule was a huge challenge. I was already overbooked as a freelance writer. I was time-poor and didn’t have the chance to grow my own brand and blog because I was too busy helping my clients with theirs. I knew that shifting to a four-day workweek would mean culling my client list and losing income.
So far, it’s been worth every sacrifice.
Why I Chose a Four-Day Workweek
When I first started freelance writing, I loved it so much that I wanted to spend all my time growing my business. I took pride in my work. I loved the money. I wanted to see how far I could grow it.
But working all the time didn’t leave me much time to innovate. I wanted to have my own blog. I wanted to try new writing techniques, tools, and software. I wanted to learn new skills that I could use to take my business to the next level.
And I couldn’t. Because I didn’t have time.
What’s more, I started thinking back to my Why. The biggest reason I started freelancing was to have more time to spend doing the things I love. I wanted to enjoy long lunch dates with friends or knock off early on a Friday to go to the lake. Eventually, working all the time just wasn’t working out. Even though I love what I do.
Life isn’t all about work. But work enables the life I want to live. I reached a point where I started to value my time more than my salary, so I make the four-day workweek my New Year’s Resolution. So far, I’ve kept it.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the meantime.
My Work Days are Longer — That’s Okay
Limiting my work to just four days meant having to work a little longer each day. That was a pretty easy change to make. My daughter dances two days a week (and sometimes more), so I will camp out in my car with my laptop while she is in class.
On the days when I don’t have that extra time, I’ll usually stay up late after the kids go to bed. I’ll save some of my easy projects for my late work to reduce the demands on my energy and focus.
Overall, I only work about 6 to 8 hours per day. I am taking less work than I would if I were working five days a week, but not a full day’s worth. It’s a happy medium that lets me free up an entire extra day without a 20% pay cut.
I’m More Selective About My Work
Having fewer hours for work made me get specific about the type of client I wanted to work with. I’m no longer eager to take every opportunity that comes to me. Instead, I think carefully about how I can best use my time.
As a result, I’ve had to turn down some projects, which means losing out on revenue. But the trade-off is feeling better about the work I do take.
I am enjoying my work more now than I ever have. It’s fulfilling and allows me to utilize my best skills.
I Take Advantage of Me Time
Having that extra day (Friday, by the way) gives me time to use however I wish. The kids are in school. The husband is at work. I take a two-mile walk in the morning to chat with my mom and clear my head. I don’t feel rushed through my shower. I can take care of the chores I’ve neglected through the week, especially if we have weekend plans.
I take my time in the mornings. Then I treat myself to lunch while I work on my personal brand. I’m finally giving my own blog the attention it deserves. I’m making valuable connections with other bloggers and media outlets. I can focus on building up the other side of my business beyond writing for clients. It’s therapeutic, in a way. And it also gives me time to follow my dreams and grow in my career.
The Four-Day Workweek Has Drawbacks, Too
The four-day workweek sounds dreamy, and I’d be lying if I said it isn’t. But there are a few downsides, too, and I’m still trying to work around them.
For starters, it’s harder to give yourself a raise when you limit your work schedule. When you’re working fewer hours, you’re limited to raising your prices or adding passive revenue streams. Both are doable, but they also have their own drawbacks. Increasing your prices could mean losing loyal customers. And creating passive income can take time to establish.
You might also run into scheduling challenges with clients. I’ve been fortunate to have clients that respect my boundaries and don’t call or text on Fridays. But I know this is a luxury that not all mompreneurs can access.
I also felt a lot of pressure to work harder during my four-day workweek in the beginning. The time crunch was real! It doesn’t come naturally at first and takes a lot of work to find that balance and maintain it.
Final Verdict: Will I Keep My Four-Day Workweek?
Overall, I feel that dropping down to a four-day workweek has been in my best interest, as well as that of my family. My mental health has improved greatly. Part of this is because I’m not working as much as I was when I first started freelancing. But part of it is also because I have more time to pursue my other passions beyond my job.
For moms that are interested in a four-day workweek, I say it’s at least worth a shot. If it doesn’t work for you, you can also go back. And if it does work for you, who knows what potential it will hold for you?