This morning I read a great article on A List Apart titled, The Four-Day Work Week Challenge, by Ryan Carson. The basic idea is that most people spread their work out over whatever time period they have to work with. So if you have all week to get done your list of things, you'll take all week to do it. But if you have only 4 days to get everything done, you'll be able to do it in 4 days because you'll be forced to work smarter and more efficiently.
I thought the idea was ridiculous. How in the sam hill would we be able to get everything done? We have way too much to do in five days a week, let alone four.
I would love to be able to do this. Not only do you get a 3 day weekend every week, you're forced to cut out unnecessary distractions like meetings. In my book, meetings are poison for productivity. I don't think Rosetta Stone would ever be kosher with only working 4 days, but one day I'd really like to do this.
However, you can take the challenge in many different ways. Instead of getting into work early and finishing late, tell yourself that you have exactly eight hours to finish all your work for the day. Set a mental barrier at the end of the day and know that you will shut down your computer and pack your bags exactly at five o’clock.
Even though I can't reduce the work week by a day, I can and do timebox my workdays. I usually make a point to stop working by a certain time and plan my work around the end of my day rather than letting the work dictate when I stop.
Even if you love what you do - and I do - you should still be vigilant about keeping a good life-work balance.
Ryan echos one of my favorite sentiments:
Will we lie on our death bed and say “Damn, I wish I would’ve got more done at work?” I doubt it.
I know I won't be saying that.