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I’m transitioning to a 3-day weekend, meaning that Friday-Sunday are reserved for stuff that Saturday-Sunday was normally reserved for. The idea is not to reduce the output of my work, but to have the output at at least the same level, but improving the input / output ratio in my worklife.
Let me start with a bit of background
In the fall of 2017 I decided that I needed to change something in my worklife. I wasn’t really thriving, not producing quality work and feeling that many days in front of the computer was a waste.
I was feeling a bit stuck with Refuga. I was tired of the dynamics of the business, a bit tired of actually doing the trips and financially it’s pretty basic what you can earn on one trip.
Something had to change and I decided to try to save as much money as possible to start a new company (or at least be totally free to do something BIGGER). I have never tried to start something with a bit of money on my hand, so I think it would be nice to try another approach to entrepreneurship.
The idea was to go all-in on consulting as an “External CMO” and have the summer 2019 as a deadline to have saved up a good chunck of money to do exactly what I want.
This “project” has also been involving thinking a lot about how to improve the quality of my work and in general my worklife.
Here is why I want to try transition to a 3-day weekend:
I have dreams and ambitions in my worklife and to reach those I need to do quality work
For many, many years I thought that just working hard and many hours would give me success, the result being that I have wasted so much freaking time and not done what is actually the hard thing to get right: Do the right work, do quality work.
If I want to have any chance of reaching the goals I have, I need to do better work than I’ve been doing the last 10 years. To improve my work, I also need to shift my mindset from how much work I do, to the actual quality. Setting some limitations on when to work and how much, has helped me focus to do actually do better work. Much less time spent on things that doesn’t matter, procrastination, feeling busy for the sake of being busy etc.
I have been so busy the last +10 years, but I have set so little time a side to actually think, take the right decisions etc. I can already now feel that more time away from the computer allows for things to settle, you get different perspective on things etc. Just in the consulting gigs I do, I can already see that I can create much more value for my clients when I have time to just think and get away from the computer.
First of all I want to do 3-day weekends, because I think it will help me reach my professional goals.
Making work feel a little less like work
I love work and I also like work that isn’t fun. I like getting things done. But the best quality work I do is when work doesn’t feel like work. For clients or in my own projects, it’s normally during evenings and weekends, where there is no email, peace and quiet and when I’m not super busy. That’s where I take time to get a bit deeper and to be honest, it’s normally only at those time where I’m working in something like flow.
I love, love that state of flow and the results that often comes with it. Giving myself some more time with pressure of day-to-day work, I hope to achieve more of that.
I need some kind of frames
Right next to me my girlfriend is working from her computer and our 3-months old baby is playing a bit. We’re in an Airbnb for 3 weeks in Cape Town. This is the essence of my life: It’s all completely mixed up. Work, hobbies, family… it’s all there at the same time.
I have worked so much the last many years, but a very, very good bunch of the time has been crap work. I have worked many many 12 hours days, with the result equal to 2-3 focused work. That’s just a waste of life.
Setting some frames is necessary when living this life and if I don’t want to waste to much of the only thing that is limited: time. I always get more done when I have some kind of time frame or deadline.
Having put up some frames around work: I have to get shit done Monday to Thursday will hopefully make the time I spend on work of a higher quality.
Working less, but better will give make it easier to travel
After traveling full-time for +4 years and now being back in Denmark for a while, we are getting the need to travel back again. Work and travel has been intertwined for all those years, often making us feel unsatisified with both work and travel, either being disappointed about not exploring enough while traveling or exploring too much and then feeling bad about now working enough.
We want to transition our travels to:
a) Short trips, 100% vacations
b) Longer stays (3 weeks – 6 months), where each week we have 4 day with focus for work, 3 days for focus on other things. This means that even if we are just 3 weeks in a place, we still have 9 days for pure exploring
Combining work with traveling can be super annoying as you too often have to take a decision about how to structure your day: Should we go out and do something or focus on work today or how do we split it? Having set up some frames, it’s easier to be focused Monday-Thursday and then have 3 days, where you can change priorities.
We’re seriously considering some level of unschooling / homeschooling for our little son
For plus one year my girlfriend and I have discussed what the heck to do kids + education. The more I have studied the subject, the more uncomfortable I feel about putting my kid into the traditional system of kindergarten and school. I’m extremely interested in unschooling, homeschooling, free range parenting. Overall I really feel that the best you can give a kid is the love of learning and not so much to give them exactly what to learn and when to learn it.
I wrote a lot more about that here.
Having 3 days off per week to pursue other things would make this much more easy. The biggest challenge with for example homeschooling is that I personally have professional goals that I want to achieve and having to 100% homeschool, I would have to compromise a lot on those goals.
Finding another solution for 4 days a week, fx a Montessori school, hiring a private teacher for a group of kids etc. would be more sustainable.
I hate the “always on, always available” + the “Work hard, hustle, 24/7 startup bullshit”
I seriously hate, hate, hate the ehtos of busy = success. I just wanna totally opt out of that crap.
I’m slowly starting to think less about what other people think
I have always it was important that others thought I was “important”, using the “busy entrepreneur” label to achieve. With age I’m slowly starting to think less about what other think. I’m definetely not there yet, but it’s coming slowly.
I feel grounded in what I’m good at and what I can do and if other people think I’m unambitious for working less, then they are old school 😉
Even if I wanted to I wouldn’t have taken this step just a few years ago.
… plus, lots of research show that working less is better.
There is evidence that working less would mean better work, happier and healthier people. This article in The Guardian sums it up greatly.
It’s the future, so why not get ready for it? In the future we will be much more focused on the output of the work you do, much less focused on time input. Just as with our schoolsystem, the (around) 40 hours work week was made for another time. As what we do for work changes, so will how we structure it.
But isn’t it unambitious to work less?
I personally feel the opposite, as the goal is not less of an output, but a better input vs output ratio. That said, I actually do understand why people would feel this way. I think my biggest challenge with this transition is what other thinks.
As with traveling a lot and being some kind of digital nomad I had a lot of those responses, but my experience is that those people I find most interesting myself understand it, get that there is some value in doing it differently.
As always it’s a matter of not being affected by the opinions of people you don’t wanna be like.
But will it actually work?
My work and other areas of my life has been so intertwined for so many year. It’s often at a point where I can’t find the difference between on / off work, so how will this actually work?
Overall my idea is not that work is not allowed Friday-Sunday, but if I work it will be on stuff that I want to do now and stuff that I find fun (can of course be side projects, learning etc., but also for clients). I just don’t want to feel bad about not answering emails etc. on Fridays and have the possibility to go offline if I want.
But doesn’t it take a lot of hours to be succesful?
I know that sometimes a lot of work and insane work hours are necessary. I understand that some projects would need 100% all in to succeed, but I also believe that it’s not always the case.
If the project is right and I feel like it, I wouldn’t mind transitioning to all-in, 100%, long hours to start something new etc. I just know it’s not right now, and it’s not how I’m gonna live the majority of my life.
If I look at the people that I know, the most succesful people have other focuses than work. They wanna do sports, travel, be with their kids, learn different stuff. These are ALWAYS more interesting people. Other people might have a bit more money, more employees etc., but I find those who only focus on work in their life are super boring (this is also my experience from training with professional athletes).
Let’s see how it goes!
Also published on Medium.