The world has been in a state of flux for over a year now, and it’s not surprising that the shape of the workweek has shifted.
There’s no need for us to be so universally tied to the traditional 5 days on, 2 days off workweek. Technology has allowed us to be productive on our own time, yet somehow we’re still committed to that grind of a 40-hour week.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Remote work has given us more options for flexibility than ever before. And many companies are learning that one size doesn’t fit all.
Now is a great time to consider whether the traditional Monday through Friday workweek is right for you, or if a different structure works better for your needs and productivity. Here are a few options to consider.
The 4 Day Workweek
It sounds like a fantasy to those stuck in a traditional workweek. Full pay, full work output, and you get a 3-day weekend. It’s a relatively new concept, but the little data that exists on the four-day week is very promising. Many companies have found increased benefits in operational efficiency, more motivated and productive employees, and an overall improvement in employee health and wellness.
A New Zealand company ran a 2-month long experiment with 240 employees trying the 4-day workweek.
Workers were more productive, more efficient, and happier. Two years on, the company has a permanent option of a four-day workweek (though the company retains the right to “withdraw” the extra day off if employees aren’t getting their work done). Since then, founder Andrew Barnes reports, revenue has increased by 6% and profitability by 12.5%.
As a freelance writer, this could be a fantastic option as long as you’re meeting client requirements. If you’re on a team of writers for one client, then be sure to take into account how this schedule change will affect others on your team.
The Early Bird Gets The Worm
This is by far my preferred method. If you’re at your sharpest during the early morning hours, then use that time for maximum impact. Working 7am to 2pm is a great way to maximize productivity and make the most of your workday.
In the Marine Corps, we had a saying that went something like “we accomplish more by 9am than the rest of the world accomplishes in an entire day.”
While the rest of the world is still sleeping or just waking up, you’ll have the quiet time you need to focus and get a head start on the day’s tasks without interruptions from demanding clients or Zoom meetings.
According to researchers from the University of Washington, managers often display a bias toward early-bird workers. Even when total worked hours were the same, employees who began earlier were consistently rated as better performers.
Working a modified schedule also gives you more time to spend with your family or to just give you more time to do the things you love doing.
The 5 Hour Workday
If you’re able to manage your own time, there’s no reason to be “on” for the standard eight-hour day. Generally after 4 to 5 hours of working, your brain’s creativity and focus start to take a nosedive. I know of several freelance writers and content creators that work in 4-hour increments because of that. They finish out the remainder of their day on less complex admin work.
You can have a hybrid of the 5-hour workday and early start. Start at 7am and complete your most important focused work by noon. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done for the day. Use the remaining time for admin work, planning out the following day, or working on self-improvement.
How About Working Every Day Of The Week?!
Working every day of the week? It sounds terrible, but hear me out. For some freelancers, working a few hours every day can solve many issues with writing and personal life.
Waking up early on Saturday and Sunday to get in a few hours of work before lunch will put a stop to the endless doom scrolling on social media, Youtube, or Netflix. Working on the weekends helps many freelance writers relax and reduce anxiety. Working only a few hours each day of the week allows you to maximize productivity, shut off work at the end of those few hours, and know that you spent the morning being productive.
More than 70% of American workers check their work email outside of office hours. If you’re already working beyond normal office hours, why not make it work in your favor? That might mean working 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and then scheduling in 8 hours of work spread over the weekend. As a freelancer, it is 100% up to you to find your sweet spot for your workweek setup.
The Classic 40 Hour Workweek
Some people thrive in the traditional 40 hour week. Love working 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday? Great! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.