November 8, 2011, 5:00 am

Do You Believe You Can Work Less and Keep the Same Pay Check?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career
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Yesterday, I told you that you are able to crush it while watching f*&%ing Lost. But that is obviously easier said than done (anybody remember this fantastic piece Martin wrote last week about a blogging reality check?).

 

You want more money?

But don’t want to work more hours or get a second job?

 

I’m totally up with you.

 

So, how can you make more money by working less? Man… this has been my main obsession for the past 8 years. And I only found the solution 3 years ago! Darn! The trick is quite easy in theory: simply work less ;-). If you have read The 4 Hour Workweek, you know what I am talking about. However, working 4 hours per week is not accessible for most people. It’s more like selling the dream than finding a way that you can actually take some real action to achieve this.

 

Let’s Start Smaller: How About Working 4 Days a Week?

I seriously think that you and I can get out of the Rat Race and live the life without working much. But let’s be realistic for a moment; this won’t happen this year, next year either… and probably not before the next 5 to 10 years (and this is only if you hustle like an animal!). However, you can improve your position today. How about working 4 days a week and keep your pay check? But be careful, you need to do this slowly, step by step if you want to achieve this.

 

Step #1 Find an excuse

If you want to start working fewer days in the corporate world, you better have a solid reason to do so. If not, the dream crashers will tell you that it is not possible or that you may want to pursue “other career opportunities” as you don’t fit in here. So you need to find an acceptable excuse to work 4 days a week. With a softer boss, you can try the family/work argument. However, I would only use it if you are 100% certain that you are working in a company where they facilitate and encourage family/work flexibility. Most don’t… yet (sad!).

 

There are a few other options that are more easily accepted. You can find yourself another sideline project from your current tasks that will improve your department’s productivity or profitability. If you present a clever idea to your boss that will make him look good, there are not many reasons why he would not give you a day/week to work on the project. You can work on cost reduction, productivity, profitability or marketing (making presentations). These are buzz words managers love to hear.

 

If you are out of ideas, you can also go back to school (that was my excuse). I picked a program where I had to go to class on Fridays so they had to let me go 1 day a week to do something else.

 

If you don’t want to go back to school and there are no ways you can improve where you work (that’s impossible, by the way), there is another way that will hurt: simply use 1 day of your own vacation to take off each week for 6 weeks or so. This will be enough to build your case study, which is step #2.

 

Step #2 Build a case study

There are 2 things you must do once your excuse is accepted:

#1 Do all your regular work in a 4 day schedule

#2 Build your case study with facts that show you can work 4 days a week and do the very same job

 

During a 6 to 8 week period, you will have the amazing opportunity to show that you can work 4 days a week and get all your things done during that time. It is very important that these 6 to 8 weeks are among the best weeks of work you have ever done. You want to show them that your motivation and productivity have increased. In fact, if you are not more motivated and more productive, you won’t make it anyways ;-).

 

The key here is to force you to think differently. The point is not to work more hours during these 4 days. The point is to optimize your day so you can do your job and still finish at 5pm to head back home.

 

While you are finding ways to become more productive, keep track of your results and your success. It is important to build a solid business case. If not, your employer won’t listen to you.

 

Step #3 Don’t be shy to ask

2 months after you made the decision you want to work 4 days a week, you are now ready to make the big jump. Don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting with your boss, to ask for 1 hour of his time. This is when you will show him what you have accomplished over the past 6 to 8 weeks and that you now want to keep that 4 day/week work schedule.

 

You may think that he will ask you to work on special projects on the 5th day since you became more productive. This would be the trickiest part. If it happens, you can simply tell him that in order to be fair to your productivity and commitment towards the company, you would ask for a 20% income raise as your colleagues do 80% of what you do. He will obviously refuse, so you tell him that the fair thing to do is to leave you at 4 days a week under the one condition that you will always do the work required in 4 days without complaining, making mistakes or being late.

 

Step #4 what do you do with that extra day now?

How great is that, you just found a way to reduce your number of hours while keeping the same pay check! What’s next? I’ll tell you in my next article ;-).

 

In the meantime, I want to know what prevent you from doing this? What is the biggest challenge you are facing to change to a 4 day work week? Are there any? If yes, tell me. If not, take action!

 

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Comments

This is awesome advice! I tried out your recommendation for using vacation days to take off fridays. Part of that strategy is what helped me build up my own blog and now I’m so thankful that I did that! Man, I wish I could take days off and work from home for ym employer. Unfortunately I work on construction jobs and I need to physically be there on site!

I think anything is possible, all you need is a strategy! I work a lot less than I use to. Almost half, but my pay check is not halved. You need a strategy and a plan to execute to make it happen.

by: The Financial Blogger | November 8th, 2011 (2:39 pm)

out of curiosity, in which field do you work?

I’m curious to see how many people can make this work.
There should be a follow up post in 6 weeks or so to see if any readers tried the 4 days work week.

Don’t think I can work less and make the same. It’s too competitive out there.

It also depends on how much one makes. The more one makes, the harder it is to do.

@Jon,

I totally understand your point. My brother in law is working on construction too… there aren’t many ways that you can scale your own job!

@Retiredbyforty,

that’s a pretty good idea, I should run a contest 😉

@Financial Samurai,

I don’t agree with you. I’ll make between 125k and 135k at my day job this year by working 4 days a week and both financial and sales are pretty competitive work environment.

I agree that some jobs can’t be cut (as Jon who’s working on construction) but it has nothing to do with salary.

Very interesting idea for sure. I’m not sure I have the guts to try it – but congrats to those that do and pull it off!

I’m currently only “working” four days a week though as it is on a startup company with my friend and not getting paid. I work from home and told him I don’t have a babysitter for the 5th day, which is true, and he was fine with me only working 4 days.

totally with you on this. with the right planning and approach it is doable to make the same, or more by working a lot less. like you, i am interested in hearing about KRANTCENTS’S journey. KRANT – perhaps a recollection of your journey in your next post? I also agree that there should be follow up for those who try it and who can update us on how it went.

That’s the thing Mike, the more one makes, the harder it is to maintain. Are you saying 125-135K is a lot? It’s not bad, but that’s the median income of 29 year olds out of business school here in the states.

Once you get into the $250-$500,000, it gets much harder to work less and make the same.

by: The Financial Blogger | November 9th, 2011 (11:29 am)

@Sam,

Man, you are overpaying your employees in the states ;-). I understand why you are in a recession if you pay your kids over 100K.

The median for a kid out of business school with a few years of experience in Canada is probably around 60K-70K. Traders and financial analysts make a lot more but most people in accounting, HR, marketing won’t get huge salary in their 20’s. In fact, besides managers, it’s almost impossible to make 100K+ in HR, marketing, accounting department. I’m surprised to see such high numbers for someone with a bachelor degree!

I guess that if you make over 250K, it’s a whole different ballgame. That would correspond to a financial analyst or VP position in Canada.

But to be honest, when I look at how many hours those position requires (most of the time, it’s 50 hours +), I don’t mind working 30 hours and making half of it! In the end, we have the same hourly wage… except I get to see my wife and kid way more often!

Mike – So long as you’re getting pad the 100K+, you aren’t in recession. 🙂

Most people in your industry in the states who make $250-500,000 work about 45-55 hours a week.

It’s great that you are happy with your income, and don’t want to be a financial analyst or VP. That’s really all that matters. It must be a different work culture here in the US.

by: The Financial Blogger | November 9th, 2011 (12:12 pm)

@Sam,

I guess it’s hard as a company to make profit if your medium employee make 100K. I just meant that I’m not surprise that companies are cutting down on staff.

Don’t worry, my thinking (working less and making more) doesn’t fit with the corporate world in Canada too! Most people see me as a lazy individual rather than seeing me as a very productive employee. The corporate culture is pretty simple: if you don’t work long hours, you are not a worthy employee. I guess that’s coming from most divorced VPs 😉

Isn’t your comment of “coming from most divorced VPs” with a smiley face the very crap you take from others who look at you in a disproving way? It’s a cycle of hate and frustration that never ends until one just drops it.

by: The Financial Blogger | November 9th, 2011 (1:13 pm)

Hey Sam,

I didn’t mean to offend anybody.

In fact, I really don’t mind people’s choice. You can do whatever you want as long as you are happy, I’m happy. I don’t feel any hate or frustration. I just don’t get why people who spend their life at work look down on someone who hasn’t made the same choice as them. So I’m having fun putting smiley faces 🙂

[…] at The Financial Blogger presents Do You Believe You Can Work Less and Keep the Same Pay Check?, saying “Is this possible or is it […]

This is really a great idea if This work then i gonna leave the job on the very next day and more over i’l gonna be my own boss 😉 but to implement this idea you have to work hard and after that every thing will be easy…