How to Make the 32 Hour Workweek Work for You

New ideas for the workweek have emerged as more companies try to combat worker burnout. For instance, one social experiment is changing a 40-hour, five-day workweek to a 32-hour, four-day workweek.

While some worry that reducing the number of hours worked will decrease productivity, that is not necessarily true. According to reporting from the BBC, a four-year trial of the 32-hour workweek showed that “productivity remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces.”

If your workplace is considering switching to a 32-hour workweek, follow these five steps to maximize productivity.

1. Organize Tasks

To make sure important tasks are a top priority, list your tasks for that day (or week, if you like to plan in advance). Looking at the list, sort each task into three categories: High priority, Medium priority, and Low priority.

High-priority tasks are essential to your business that need to get done promptly. Medium priority tasks should be completed promptly but can be slightly delayed. Lastly, low priority tasks are those that need to be completed but not right away.

If you’re unsure how to classify your tasks, try the three-strike system for prioritizing your task list.

When you list and sort your tasks, use a collaborative notes app like Microsoft OneNote or Google Keep so your entire team knows what work they should prioritize. A notes app will also allow your team members to provide feedback on the list of priorities so you can make sure the essential work is completed first.

2. Share Calendars

Continue the collaborative momentum you started through organizing tasks by having your team share their calendars. Most calendar apps, like Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar, allow you to share your schedule with other users.

Awareness of everyone’s schedule is key to maintaining a productive environment. By sharing your calendar with your team, everybody can keep track of important team meetings and ensure they don’t disturb coworkers during periods of blocked-off time.

It will also be easier to cut out unnecessary meetings. Knowing everyone’s schedule will allow you to figure out a time for everyone to meet instead of having multiple one-off meetings. It will also let you see if meeting subjects are being repeated.

3. Use Timer Apps (and Listen to Them)

With your workweek reduced by 20%, each minute of the day becomes a more valuable resource. To optimize your time, you must create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Block out time on your calendar for each task you need to complete and for meetings and breaks (because you need to take adequate and restorative breaks to be at your best).

Once you make your schedule, set a timer for each task. Some popular timer apps include Pomofocus and Toggl. No matter what app you choose, make sure to listen to it. When your timer tells you to stop, you should stop and move to your next task, even if you haven’t finished it.

To combat unfinished work, always add a catch-up block to your schedule. A catch-up block is a set amount of time you give yourself to continue working on tasks you didn’t have time to finish. Adding one in will allow you to stay on track to complete all your work.

4. Use a Cloud Storage System

Sharing documents is essential to any business. Luckily the days of hard-copy storage systems, which limited accessibility, are long gone. But in a 32-hour work environment, not just any digital storage system will do.

Make sure your team shares documents in a cloud sharing environment, like OneDrive or Google Drive. When you host documents in a local environment, access is limited, which slows down workflows. Cloud storage systems allow everyone to access necessary materials, preventing speed bumps in the workday.

Cloud storage systems also allow everyone to track of work progress, which helps cross-collaborative project efforts. However, to make your cloud storage system accessible, organize and clean up your cloud storage from time to time. This way, you and your team members won’t waste time sorting outdated folders and files to find what you need.

5. Track Your Day on a Spreadsheet

In addition to blocking off time on your calendar, record your daily tasks on a spreadsheet using a program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Record each task and how much time the job took you.

When recording the time for a task, don’t just put down what you’ve blocked off in your calendar. Instead, if you need more time to complete a task, write that down. Knowing the total time you spend on a task is essential to figuring out how to optimize your day.

After a week of tracking the time spent on your daily tasks, look at how your time was spread out across the list of tasks you had to complete. Study the list and ask yourself what it says. Where are you spending most of your time? What tasks are taking longer than expected? Where can you cut back on time spent?

This tracking and questioning will allow you to understand better how your time is utilized throughout the day. Knowing where your time is spent will let you figure out what can be cut, delegated, and needed more attention.

Maximize Your 32-Hour Workweek

To maximize productivity during your 32-hour workweek, remember to organize your tasks, share your calendars, use timer apps, use cloud storage, and track your day. These five steps are minor changes to your workday that will significantly impact your workweek.

It’s important to remember that losing eight hours of the week doesn’t mean you have to lose any of your work output. On the contrary, changing to the four-day workweek may motivate your team to work harder.

Productivity is not always about the time you have; it’s about how you use that time.

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