Self Care July 8, 2020

4 day work-week - Thoughts?

Jim Zarkadas @jimzarkadas

Note: This post is one of the chapters of my public journal called
"12 months to IndieHacking".) - Every week I document and share what happens behind the scenes.

Screenshot of my calendar

Three months before I quit my job from TicketSwap I switched to working only 4 days per week. I was feeling that I needed more time and energy for myself. However, I was afraid that if I switch to 4 working-days my productivity will suffer. I was afraid that there won’t be enough time and that I won’t have time to push for my ideas and complete all of my tasks. But I decided to give it a try and see what happens.

Three months later it turned out to be a good change for me. Working 4 days per week forced me think more as an essentialist. I got rid of “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out), and learned to focus on what really matters. Having less time, makes me think more pragmatic and pushes me to take decisions without overthinking. Even science has proven that humans tend to use all the available time to complete a task. We always “need” more time.

So I started thinking that maybe I should keep doing the 4 days per week even now that I quit and became self-employed. The reality is that in the startup world of hustling it sounds crazy to say that you won’t put all of your effort into your business. This made me feel uncomfortable but I’ve seen that having free time can help me de-stress and allows me to understand what are my real priorities in life. Finally, I decided to repeat this experiment and work for 4 days per week for the next 2 months. From now on my Thursdays will be reserved for learning music and surfing. I will have no todo items, and will focus on hanging out with communities I love. The communities that I want to support with my work.

Discussion: What's your experience on this? How many days do you work per week and how does it feel for you so far?

  1. 10

    I have an incredibly strongly opinionated opinion about this 🙋‍♂️

    Late 2018 I burned out and was forced to do nothing for half a year. This experienced shaped how I look at the current economy. Some of my thoughts about this;

    1. 40 hour work weeks are a tool to keep the economy thriving. Because of the lack of time people have, they will derive their feeling of self worth from their possessions. This is a feedback loop. Buy stuff, need money, work more, and so forth.
    2. It is absolutely a lie that you can force yourself to do intensive mental labour for 40 hours a week. A recent study done among office workers in the UK suggested they are only productive for about 3 hours every day. Why even bother keeping this sham alive?
    3. I believe life should be in balance. Having to do heavy mental labour calls for intensive physical workouts. I do not believe having to do mental labour for 8 hours a day, while having to manage your mental and physical health in your own time does justice to this balance.

    I am truly committed to providing a healthy and balanced work environment once I am in the position to hire coworkers, and believe this will greatly pay back itself. While I was first thinking about offering 32 hour work weeks for full pay, I'm now even considering going lower. Getting to work with people who are at their full potential is absolutely a delight, and I believe the 40 hour work week is one of the things blocking people getting to their full potential.

    1. 1

      Man, great answer and really to the point. I totally agree with you and my dream as well is to build a healthy company that will rethink the basics and won't follow the mainstream way of thinking when it comes to working. If people feel their job helps them become better this will pay back and benefit the company as well. In the end a company is a group of people. If they are happy, creative and have a strong purpose magic things can happen.

      "While I was first thinking about offering 32 hour work weeks for full pay, I'm now even considering going lower." That's awesome I wish you all the best :)

  2. 3

    100% agreed.

    I am a recovering entreprenuraholic. I have successfully built brick and mortar businesses. But I can't say that I have successfully lived my life whilst building them. For the past ten years, I was optimizing for cash-flow and nothing else.

    Now, my metric of success isn't just cash flow and valuations. I want my team to have fun, I want us to improve the education of kids that can't afford it, I want us to help restore our planet, I want to live a fuller life, I want to have time with my daughter and wife.

    But why wasn't I focusing enough on those things in the past? Simple answer: Overworking. As I worked far too many hours, I lost awareness about things that actually mattered. If I, the leader and father, failed to be aware, everyone else was getting the wrong metrics to optimize for.

    For a couple of months (it's been two years in the making though), I have chosen a new challenge and a new set-up. Using the capital and experience I gained, I want to build a digital tech holding that will create and buy profitable, best-in-class digital products. I want to assemble a kick-ass team. I wanna have fun. Furthermore, I have decided to throw out the rules I have used in building out the physical business and build a fully remote organization.

    And the first pillar of the culture that I am building: I want my team to work the least amount of hours to make the maximum impact.

    Now optimize for that:0

    1. 1

      "> And the first pillar of the culture that I am building: I want my team to work the least amount of hours to make the maximum impact."

      Sounds great, sign me up haha

    2. 1

      That was a great answer man!

      "Overworking. As I worked far too many hours, I lost awareness about things that actually mattered." This part is so true. I had the exact same thing in the past. I was so focused that I even forgot how real life feels like 😅

      I wish you all the best with your vision and I am sure it's going to be great. Also would be nice to share some insights along the way because I am sure that there are many people that would like to have a fuller life with more impact and process. We need more of these initiatives :D I started doing something similar and document my journey to indiehacking to show to people that want to get into it the real behind the scenes

      Also for the part of buying other companies this could be useful if you don't know it already


      1. 1

        Thanks Jim!

        I will definitely check your story. I love this approach of sharing and being transparent.

        I am building the landing page for my holding. Second pillar of the culture I am setting up = full transparency. So I will be keeping the workshop door open as we are building everything.

        Yes, I have seen that edition of the newsletter. Boostrap funds are something for me. I am checking them out now. I have had a bad experience with VCs. The first 12 months after I have decided to leave the business I have co-founded and moved into the digital space, I thought I would put my money into VCs and ride the tech wave. Then I have spent thousands of dollars on fancy conferences, got introduced to who-is-who in the VC world. And man I was shocked. I was like, most of these VCs have no entrepreneurial background, they are like sports fans, who think they know how to play football but have never played it. And they are betting on entrepreneurs more out of fun and adrenaline rush, rather than to actually help build something. So I was like no way I am gonna put my money into these VCs.

        Then I got introduced to Andrew from Tiny. Then he explained to me what he was doing and I was like yes, finally someone is not running a ponzi scheme. So far he has been my inspiration.

        But of course, I am going to build something that is an expression of me, of my life and my experiences.

        Stay tuned:)

        1. 1

          Well, I can see you really know what you are doing so keep it up! I also followed you on Twitter to stay updated with your journey :-)

          1. 1

            Thank you thank you:)

  3. 2

    Honestly, I tried and failed. Multiple times. Only to realize that I was trying to buy into the hype thinking that something magical would happen or change in my life. After I let go of all these 'rules to be productive' is when I was actually doing great work that was fulfilling.

    1. 1

      Yeap I see your point and totally agree. Actually the point is to define a goal. For some people it could be work 6 hours per day or 4 days per week or something totally different.

      I totally agree on letting go the "rules to be productive" - as in indiehacking the goal is to experiement and see what works best for you and what not. Based on the outcome you will shape your own routine.

  4. 2

    Doing it for years, will never go back.

  5. 2

    Hey Jim, huge fan of it. Good luck, I'm sure you'll come out the other side happier for it.

    I now live in Germany which is downright depressing over the winter, but it gets worse the further north you go. One thing that sticks with me, if I can't convince people to do 4 day weeks year round, at least do it for a few months during the summer. Need to enjoy these warm months while they last.

  6. 1

    I've dreamed of a job with a 4 day work week for a long time! So much so that I decided to create a website listing jobs with a better work / life balance:

    1. 1

      Ah sick man! That's something I miss a lot from the job finding process.

      4 days work-week is 100% the way to go for me. I switched back again to 5 days now due to the amount of tasks I have and I already feel exhausted. In 2021 I am planning to switch back to 4 working days and stay consistent on this :)

  7. 1

    The reality is that in the startup world of hustling it sounds crazy to say that you won’t put all of your effort into your business.

    Hopefully/ideally putting your mental/physical wellbeing also benefits your business!

    I'd love to hear an update on this 4 day week schedule in a few months 🙏 Good luck, stay disciplined!

  8. 1

    All for it. When I was working in the City - and sometimes even these days when I have much better work-life balance - I'm feeling it come Friday.

    I also like Sean McCabe's approach (every 7th-week off for him/his team, and he also has a year off ever 7 years, he's currently in the middle of one ->

    1. 2

      Sweet! Sean's approach is also interesting thanks for sharing :)

  9. 1

    For Zlappo, I work a 4-day/48-hour work week (and it's been working out marvelously for me):

    Monday: 12 hours (breaks in between for meals)
    Tuesday: 12 hours (ditto)
    Wednesday: off (on-call for emergencies)
    Thursday: 12 hours (ditto)
    Friday: 12 hours (ditto)
    Saturday: off
    Sunday: off

    I specifically take Wednesday off, because it would mean that I'm always one day away from an off day. My 12-hour days are grueling, but I don't mind them so long as I have a much-needed off day smack right in the middle of the week.

    The 12-hour time block works perfectly for me, as I like long days where I don't have to feel stressed about fitting my work into a pre-defined arbitrary time block like 8 hours or whatever.

    That said, if I feel burned out, I take a few days off, maybe even a week (still on-call), and then I get back at it feeling recharged and refreshed.

    YMMV, obviously!

    1. 2

      What are you doing wednesday's? Don't you feel beaten up and end up doing not much‽

      1. 1

        A little. But I guess that's the point -- to not do much. To recharge, not cramping my off day with anything to do. Mostly I end up going to the park for a walk or just watching Netflix. 😃

    2. 2

      Nice thanks for the insights, sounds great!

  10. 1

    I just started doing 4-day work weeks as well! I found that I am the same amount of productive as if it were 5 and I feel WAY more rested. I'm now taking Friday-Sundays off and I don't really see myself going back.

  11. 1

    I'm working four days a week. One day a week I'm taking care of our new-born. First that was hard because I like doing work. But now I'm getting used to it, and I love it.

    1. 1

      Yeap makes sense, it's like breaking a habit and feels painful at first but it's for a really good reason in your case - with you all the best!

  12. 1

    Nice insights @jimzarkadas.

    It can be hard, especially when building a business to maintain "balance" with everything going on in life. This is something that we all continually strive for.

    Naturally, when trying to focus on building a business or project, there is going to be tradeoffs which can lead to what one could view as imbalances. I think this is the price of trying to build something that will stand the test of time though.

    It is very important not to lose sight of the things that are most important in life though. Taking time each day to enjoy the small things and be grateful is key. Taking a 4 day work week to give more time towards de-stressing could be a great idea, especially if one is feeling a bit burned out. I hope all is going well with you my man.

    1. 2

      Yeap good points! Actually with indiehacking it's about finding the right time to do it cause at first it's super hard when you have no revenue. It's what you said "It is very important not to lose sight of the things that are most important in life though.". Just don't forget to aim for balance :)

  13. 1

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