Has your 4 day week thrown you into a spin?

Has your 4 day week thrown you into a spin?

If you are anything like me I have had to cram 5 days into 4 and whilst I loved the long weekend it made me wonder if I could be more effective, especially with 2 Bank Holidays on the horizon.

Like many workers in the UK I don’t work a traditional 37 or 40 hour week. I find myself working late into the evenings and sometimes the weekends just to keep up to date with everything.

Over five million people in the UK regularly work overtime unpaid, resulting in employers benefiting from £33.6 billion of free work last year alone.

Long hours are not good for us; they cause stress; they're bad for our health; they wreck relationships; they make caring for children or dependents more difficult; and tired, burnt-out staff are bad for business.

So what can we do about it….

Just a few weeks ago the Green Party announced plans to investigate the possibility of a three-day weekend. Caroline Lucas promised to consider “radical” new policies to “redefine the relationship between work and life” stating “We are now the sixth largest economy in the world. People are working even more hours getting ever more stressed”.

But is a 4 day work week really feasible?

Supposedly, a four-day week allows workers extra time to pursue leisure activities and family togetherness and a variety of business have tested the four-day concept, including Amazon, Google, and Deloitte with variable degrees of success.

But for me and most people in the UK the problem with this idea is that whatever work needs to be done, needs to get done and by reducing working hours people have less time to do the work in. So the only real way to address this is to increase productivity.

So this week I have spent some time exploring ways I can be more efficient. I got some great results by implementing 3 simple changes:

  • Clear desk policy - make your space user friendly – I got rid of anything that I didn’t use off my desk and having a clutter-free environment helped me think more clearly and I got better results. I removed the distracting piles of papers off my desk and filed them away. It is hard to maintain this at first but after doing this for a week my desk is still free of piles of paper and I wont have to do my normal Friday night ritual of shoving them in the draw till Monday.
  • Eat the frog - everyone has at least one task on their to do list that keeps getting pushed back, simply because the thought of doing it seems such a daunting prospect. That task is the one you should try to complete first thing in the morning before you start anything else. I did this every day this week before I even opened up my email and it made a massive difference to my overall performance and my state of mind. The added benefit of this, is that I have not actually got anything on my to do list for Monday that I had been putting off which feels great.
  •  Apply the “touch it once” principle - so that means if you read an email respond to it immediately, don’t close it down just to go back and re -read it later. Instead of writing things on a to do list simply complete the task straight away and if you pick something up deal with it there and then, file it, throw it away, or complete it. This week I tried this and at first it was difficult to get into the mindset of just completing everything as it happened, rather than write it down to do later. This has been a real-time saver this week so much so that I plan to carry on using this “touch it once” way of working moving forward.

I am now finishing my week, on time may I add, having clawed back the day I lost at the beginning of the week by using these three steps to increase efficiency. So why not give them a try, I would love to hear how you get on and if you have any tips you can share on productivity drop me a line as I like having work free weekends.

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