How to Make a Short Work Week Count

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Don't stress about having less time: consider having more focus.

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Is there anything more glorious than a four-hour working week? Apart from an almost-Michelin-starred in-office café of course, but we can’t all work at Dropbox HQ.

A public holiday is a gift to be treasured, not squandered and we firmly believe that a stressful week at work prior to your three-day knockoff will only make for a weekend full of dread. Why did I leave that project unfinished? You’ll ask between sad sips of margarita.

Here’s how to avoid that feeling and to make sure you make each of your four days count:

 

Change your thinking

It’s worth noting that huge strides have been made to reconsider our standard work hours. And with good reason: it’s widely understood that the ol’ 9-5 came about during the industrial revolution and considering the nature of work has changed somewhat since then, hours should reflect that. A range of companies in Sweden, for example (everywhere from gaming studio Filimundus to digital production company Background AB), have already begun trialling six-hour days and have seen an noticeable increase in employee wellbeing. The first step to making your shorter working week a more productive one is accepting the idea that you will be more dedicated to work knowing you’re balancing your week with time for yourself.

 

Keep up your routine

When you know you’ve got one less day in the week, it’s easy to let go of your daily structure in attempts to compensate. Consider this however: multitasking (which, as we know, isn’t really multitasking at all) accounts for a severe loss in your productivity – according to research performed at the American Psychological Association, jumping between tasks can cost you your 40% of your productive time. A study at the University of London also discovered that multi-tasking produces a similar IQ drop to that of someone who has smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.

Don’t sacrifice your daily routine because you think you need to fit more work in – it only serves to lessen how much work you actually achieve, and how much you can achieve well.

 

Focus on tasks, not on time

The bottom line? You’ll have less hours in the week than you usually do (hoorah!) Instead of focusing on the amount of time you have to do your job, zero in on your actual tasks. You can throw out the phrase, ‘I don’t have enough time!’ as often as you want, but it won’t change the fact that you still have a certain number of things to get done. Get planning, advises KPMG’s director of workplace solutions Barbara Wankoff echoes. Have those meetings with staff members (while following these rules), block out portions of your day to dedicate to deep thinking when fellow team members aren’t allowed to bother you and work out a prioritised plan of attack.

 

Shelve personal admin (just for now)

If you can, let personal admin fall by the wayside, just for this week. We’re not suggesting you give up showering but try and cut down on the mundane aspects of the week in order to be fully present at work, rather than winding yourself into a stress about how many papers will be waiting for you when you get back from your break.

Order in a few nights or get your groceries online and delivered, switch your exercise regime to a more restorative activity and scrub the shower next week. Honestly, you’ll feel rested before you even start your break.

 

Consider working during your break – but not in the way you think

Now, this may seem controversial, but have you considered working while you’re enjoying that extra day off? Stay with us on this: we don’t mean take your laptop and clear your inbox while relaxing on a sun lounger – we mean consider how your holiday can positively impact your job when you get back. Does that new restaurant give you an idea for a fresh masthead? Does the way that barista talks to his customers inspire a new customer service strategy? Imagine how it would feel if you, instead of dragging your heels in being drained of inspiration, were excited to get back to work and get started on those new ideas? Try these strategies.

We would love to hear your thoughts