Productivity Hacks For Swindling A Four-Day Work Week

There are 104 weekends in the 2020 financial year and you have the potential to turn all of them into a long weekend with a four-day workweek. 

Everyone knows ‘working from home’ is bullshit. It’s an awkward mix of sleeping in, life admin and needing to look alive on emails. 

This article is not about keeping up that charade. It’s about zero compromises and convincing the boss you can cut an entire day from your workweek.

Timing is key

Everyone has different brain capacities at different times of the day, but most are on high alert and switched on in the morning, so go hard. Head into the office, chuck on some noise-cancelling headphones and get stuck into that one task you would ordinarily avoid until the afternoon. Don’t check your email, don’t scroll Facebook, don’t pass go.

The 3-o’clock slump is real. Save that sluggish time for catching up on admin or responding to emails.

Practice deep focus

Psychologists have finally confirmed that there is no such thing as multi-tasking – tell the missus. When you flick back and forth between Slack, client contracts, Reddit and the fantasy F1 trades in your WhatsApp group, you supposedly lose up to 90 seconds a pop. 

You just can’t get your best work done when you’re scattered or when your to-do list is not prioritised. At the start of the week, you should try to have all your days mapped out.

If you wear a few different hats, set up your days in terms of themes, so you don’t lose too much time switching per day. 

Business coach Dan Sullivan suggests:

  • Free days are separate from all business activities
  • Focus days are spent on your most important work
  • Buffer days are for planning and admin

Or opt for Y Combinator founder, Paul Graham’s ‘maker manager’ model:

  • Managers divide their day into one-hour intervals (or less) to swap between tasks
  • Makers need longer stretches of distraction-free flow time (usually half a day at a time)

Let your boss, colleagues or clients in on your overlapping days or times, so they know when to best reach (or not bother) you.

Batching

Add a sneaky line into your email signature saying you only check it twice a day, and to contact you on your mobile only if it’s urgent. Remove auto-refresh on your email, and instead – open it around midday and in that mid-afternoon slump.

Or turn on auto-responder for the days or times you’re in flow. Because autoresponders are fucking annoying on the recipients’ end, adjust it to send a single read receipt, and set it up, so it only sends one response per week. 

Do it once and never again

If you find you’re continually being asked the same questions, from clients or colleagues, batch them in an FAQ format, and chuck the link in your signature. 

If you train staff, set up a folder with templates, instructions, and even on-screen videos where you record how you want people to do things so they can access it without bothering you.

Get out of meetings

Enough said. Don’t agree to a meeting if it has a blurry agenda and end time. Ask for the questions in advance so you can ‘best prepare for…’ getting the fuck out of it. The bonus is that you’ll sound bloody keen.

The tough part

If you work with awesome people and have a fun office, it’s going to be hard to pull back from the banter around the water cooler. But ask yourself, do you like the flogs you work with or do they just make getting through the day a bit easier?

Work is not your life. If you don’t like a colleague enough to spend time with them out of the office, you’ve got to look at small talk with them as the time that adds up and prevents you from taking a day off a week.

Outsource the small stuff

Don’t just do something because it needs doing. It’s easy and can feel refreshing to do those ‘quick’ in-between tasks because it’s a cool-off from other more annoying tasks.
You could entirely outsource these to a super-keen newbie. It’s a win-win.

You’re pretending to take an interest in management while lessening your to-do list. And it goes without saying, always review any outsourced work.

Track your productivity and make the boss an offer he can’t refuse

Systematically record the changes you’ve been implementing and track all your output. A column estimating how much time, and money, you’ve saved your boss will make your offer a hard one to knock back.

Remember, it has to look like the right business decision for them, as well as being a massive lifestyle win for you.

Before you go in with the kill, butter them up with a trial period. Suggest a fortnight or monthly trial of taking Friday’s off, and pencil in a formal session to review your progress afterwards.

If you’re producing quality work, in less time, you’re going to have significant leverage.
If it’s not going to plan, you have at least prepared a shit tonne of collateral to ask for more money, flexible working hours, or float a potential move another company more willing to accommodate your ideal schedule.

If all else fails, you can use all of the above to give yourself more free time in your day. And then just implement George Costanza’s hack to avoid taking on extra work in that free time.

The trick is, if you look impatient and annoyed all the time, your boss will think you are always busy. Noted.

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