How I negotiated a 4-day work week for Christmas
At this time of year, holidays for some are about religious tradition. For others, it’s a whirlwind of parties, yummy food, and gifts. And for still others, it may be a bit of a tough time – what with all the demands of family and friends and sometimes even the feeling you’re supposed to be having a better time than you are.
But for me…it’s always been about NOT WORKING! Even when I was a kid in school, knowing that a holiday was coming was the greatest feeling in the world. A day off to do whatever I want? No one expecting me to get up early or do any homework? Wuhoo!
We all need time to recharge
Everyone needs downtime. A chance to rest and a chance for the brain to process problems without our even knowing what was happening. And for introverts like me, we need it even more than most, since alone time helps us get revitalized and feel our strength return.
Into my adult years, I always felt that same special joy of holidays. That time of year when I could carve out time just for myself with no special demands. And I spent many years trying to figure out how to get a lot more of that great joyful feeling into my work life!
Over the years, I admit that quitting a job was one way I got the downtime and time to explore that I craved so much. But, as time went on and I found jobs I enjoyed more, I wasn’t as quick to leave. So was there a way that I could stay in a job and still get myself more time off?
Then the idea came to me
One day, as I was in the middle of one of those projects from hell where we seemed to spend each and every day putting out fires and handling impossible people with bottomless wells of neediness, I got an idea. I knew I couldn’t continue to give my all at that pace and still do a good job, so I went to my boss and told him something like this:
“You know, Joe, this project turned out to be a lot tougher than we ever imagined and I am not getting paid enough for all that I’m doing. But, I have a way that you can give me a raise and it won’t cost you a dime. I want Fridays off and will put in the same hours as before on the other days.”
In other words, I wanted to work only 4 days a week and get paid the same as I was for 5. And I didn’t want to squeeze extra hours into the other days because they were full enough already.
After assuring my boss I could really do the job in 4 days and still get the project in on time, to his credit my boss agreed. I had negotiated a four-day work week for myself!
I loved having a four-day work week
Having negotiated a four-day work week for myself, a whole new way of thinking about work was born. I loved working only four days a week! And I loved having all those extra “holidays.”
But not all jobs let you do this. And so I decided to find a way to continue this type of work schedule as part of an ongoing career. For me the answer was becoming an independent consultant.
In fact, at times I only worked 3 days a week and still made more than I’d been paid for that full-time job. Wuhoo!
Can this work for you?
Now I know not everyone can do what I did. At least not right this minute. And I know some jobs absolutely require you to be there 5 days a week. So negotiating a four-day work week might seem like a distant dream.
But it never hurts to put the idea of a four-day week into your head as something you might like to aim for — create for yourself — in the future. Just having it as a known possibility can open up doors down the road.
And you also might think about jobs where you can work some days from home. Or where you can at least take some control by negotiating extra days off and/or a work schedule that better matches your own life.
As I said, you might not be able to do it right now. But if you fix your mind on a picture of a more flexibly-shaped work life, you can eventually find a way to get yourself into that picture.
Flexing it up a bit
I am so proud of a friend of mine who recently negotiated a full-time job that allows him to work from home some of the time, and also use flex-time for those days he’s at the office. They hadn’t advertised the job this way, but he had the skills they needed and was able to make them buy into the picture.
Again, I know you can’t do this with every job. But it certainly opens up more life possibilities if you know these kinds of arrangements are possible. If not now, at least some day.
Of course, for those of you who adore your jobs and would work every day if you could and even wish there were more days in a week so you could work even more – well, that’s a blog for another day.
Clearly, we’re all different and no one point of view on the world of work fits all. And as Tiny Tim so aptly put it “God bless us, every one!”
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And if you do need to quit your job