Zero to 4-hour work days: My journey to a 4-hour work day

a woman pointing

Over the past few months, I’ve been drastically changing the way I work. 

I’ve gone from non-stop work (I literally used to stop working when my body started hurting and I physically had to stop…) to working just 4 hours per day. 

And friend, let me tell you, it’s been a journey! 

So today I wanted to break it down and share with you why I made this change, how I made this change and how it’s going. 

And I’m going to start with…

The Mindset 

It’s safe to say that before I made this change, I was in a state of burnout.

I personally felt burnout but my business felt burnt out too! I was doing lots of work but my business wasn’t making the income I wanted it to be making.

Naturally, this left me feeling pretty angry. 

I’ve heard people say before that when someone makes a change, they make it from a place of pleasure or pain. 

This change was definitely one that came from pain. 

But how did it start?  

The Spark

The main thing that drove me to make this change was a workshop I attended. It was led by Dr. Julia Colangelo, a flow and mindfulness educator/coach/speaker/advisor (basically, she’s a magical person and anything she says will change your life!!).

During the workshop, she was talking about flow and the magic that happens when you do less.  The workshop helped me understand that I needed more flow in my life. And if I was going to make a change, I needed to make a radical one. 

Like, if I was going right, I needed to completely go left instead. 

Although Dr. Julia Colangelo talked about working less during the workshop, she wasn’t leading the workshop on working 4-hour work days, the focus was more about allowing yourself space to explore what you really want by activating flow in your life. 

I loved this idea and after that workshop, I just thought to myself “I’m going to take a left’.

I threw up my hands and said ‘if the plane is crashing, I’m gonna throw the best damn party before the plane hits the ground and burns.’ Because really, what have I got to lose if my business already felt like it was falling? 

So I started small. 

The Journey

I knew I needed to make this change, for both me and my business, but it felt like a lot to commit to suddenly. So instead I started by setting myself a 7-day challenge. I decided I was only going to work for 4 hours a day for 7 days and I was just going to see what happened.

This felt easier for me as I wasn’t saying that I  was going to radically change my work life forever, I was just seeing how it goes. 

So the next day, I did my first 4-hour day! 

But, I do want to add a little disclaimer here in case anyone is thinking about making this change too! 

The reason I was able to instantly make this change from one day to the next was that I already had things set up in my business for me to be able to. This dramatic shift can’t happen for everyone instantly.

So how was my business set up to allow me to do this?

  1. My offer was designed to meet this lifestyle. It was a project-based offer already, it wasn’t an hourly-based one. If you have an hourly-based offer, this might take a little planning to get this to work. Even though my offer worked, I still had to adjust a few elements. I had to scale it down a bit as it was taking longer than I wanted it to! 

  1. I wasn’t over-committed to any business commitments. If you’re part of a  networking group that meets every Friday and part of a mastermind and you’re mentoring someone, it might all start getting a bit much for only 4 hours a day. That’s not to say that you can’t be doing these things, but you gotta assess all of your commitments and trim them down. My business commitments were flexible and few so it worked for me.

  1. I had systems set up to support me. I had automations set up and systems in place for me to remain visible without having to give all of my time to it! 

  1. I had a team to deliver on those systems. I have a VA, Shellin, and a copywriter, Ella, who was able to deliver on my systems to allow me to make this sudden change. I wasn’t having to write any emails, blogs or captions and that saved me a lot of time!

Anyway, after the 7 days were up, I carried on and I’m still mainly working 4-hour days now!

The Result

I am so glad I made this change. 

I don’t think I’m being over dramatic when I say it has completely changed my life. I really needed this and I’m never going back! 

BUT (and it’s a pretty big but) it didn’t feel like this when I first made the change. 

I was so tired and I felt super lazy in the beginning.

After I did my 4 hours, I spent the rest of the day binging Gossip Girl or sleeping which was very out of character for me.  Physically it took over a month to get out of this low.

I felt like I had two versions of myself though.

On the one side, I did it and I felt happy and mentally free. But on the other side, I didn’t know what do to with myself with this extra time, leaving me feeling sad and lost. 

Because it’s one thing wanting more time, but another thing entirely to figure out what you actually want to do with it! 

But eventually, I managed to get the rest my body needed and I started incorporating activities that fulfilled me, rather than just ones that were entertaining me (because there is no denying watching Gossip Girl was very entertaining!). So my biggest advice would be to make sure you spend your time doing those energy-giving activities! 

For me, this was doing things like training for a marathon and spending time with friends whilst being truly present- because before I really wasn’t. I spent all my time with others thinking about what work I needed to do and how I could catch up. Being able to enjoy my free time more was worth the change alone! 

But like I said, it wasn’t an easy transition and it took time to feel the peace I’m at now. I’ve had a few mishaps and I’ve dropped the ball a few times. Like accidentally forgetting to network and following up with connections because my work day was so short! 

Then I started to get the hang of it and now I’m at a place where if I wanted to work over 4 hours, it s more of healthy work, rather than the unproductive work mindset where I just work until I hurt. 

My work life feels more flexible and I can take days off easily and have been able to truly figure out my rhythm of when I really want to work and when I want to stop. I think it’s best described as a more conscious and healthy way of working. 

Also, it allowed me to seriously nail the process of prioritizing tasks. I even managed to close a high-ticket client just using a word document! Usually, I’d spend ages crafting the perfect proposal but because I didn’t have the time to spend making one (and I didn’t already have one for what she wanted), I just kept it simple. And let me tell you…it was the easiest sale I’ve ever made! 

The final thoughts

If you’re looking to strike a better work-life balance, with more freedom, then definitely give this ago! Just be prepared because it definitely takes some adjustment. 

It also takes a lot of willpower because shutting down that computer when you feel as though you shouldn’t is hard! But when this happened I just kept repeating the mantra ‘You’ve worked enough’. This really helped! 

If you do decide to give the 4 hour work day a try, I’d love to hear how you get on! So make sure to reach out on socials! 

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Alicia Lozano

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