We all know that with the traditional way of doing law, you need to work more to make more.
The more traditional lawyers, if they want to make more money, they work harder. That’s why often they don’t take time off, because if they take time off, they sacrifice their income.
This is why, when I talk about the four-day work week, some people are super interested – usually the more entrepreneurial, modern, innovative lawyers.
But the traditional lawyers are like, “What the hell are you talking about?”
We recently rolled out the four-day work week at Automio.
I’d read a lot about the four-day work week being rolled out at Perpetual Guardian, by Andrew Barnes in New Zealand, and I was really interested in it. I really wanted to provide that sort of experience for my team, for a number of reasons.
The first being, I believe rest is revolutionary. The more I rest and take care of myself, the more money we make and the more fun we have.
I also believe the more rest we have, the more innovative ideas my team comes up with and also the smarter they work.
When I talk about the four-day work week, I just want to be really clear about what I mean, because it can often be misinterpreted.
So often when I talk about it, people are like, “So does that mean that you do five days worth of work in four days?”
The answer to that is, yes.
But it’s not in terms of the number of hours. We don’t do longer hours on those days that we do work – our standard work week is 32 hours over four days. That’s everyone.
We can do that because we find ways to work smarter, so we can reduce the number of hours we’re working.
That extra day off can be used however people want. Most of us take Friday off, but for some it’s a Monday – just so we can have support available for our customers.
Overall, the four day work week has been a really big success. We’ve significantly increased our revenue since we first started the trial.
So I have four tips that I want to share with you today on how to implement the four-day work week while increasing your income at the same time.
#1: Be more productive
This sounds pretty obvious, but it’s hard to do sometimes.
So first of all, I recommend that you watch my Perfect Week video.
It’s about how to plan a week that is really productive and energising for you, based on all the things you want to do and achieve in your week.
The other thing when it comes to being more productive, is setting boundaries. And this is really important.
This is about being really clear about what you will do and what you won’t do, and when you say no.
Saying no is really hard for a lot of people, but it’s a muscle that you have to flex and get good at over time.
It’s not something you can instantly start doing. But a good place to start is to really think about where boundaries are being crossed in your life and start with those.
Whether it’s with your partner, or your children, or your work colleagues, that’s a really good place to start to become more productive.
When I talked to law firm owners about delegation, often they think they’re pretty good delegators. And many of you are when it comes to legal work.
But when it comes to all the other stuff that you do as law firm owners, lots of you aren’t so good at delegating that.
I recommend figuring out all the things that you do and taking a really hard look at what you can delegate.
The best way to do that is to carry out a time study. So write down everything you do for a week – both at work and outside of work.
The reason you do it outside of work too is often there’s a really good opportunity to hire some help and do some delegation with some of the draining domestic work you do at home.
If you can get help with that stuff, and have more energy, then you’re more likely to be able to condense the work you have down into four days.
With the time study, we’re really looking at what you’ve got on your plate at the moment, that you can get off your plate.
One of the ways I took things off my plate as a law firm owner was, I used to have a to-do list in a spreadsheet, that I called The Spreadsheet of Doom.
I called it that because there actually wasn’t a lot about my job that I liked. That name was a bit of a joke…but I was actually serious.
So I put a column in there, that was Love It or Hate It.
For everything on my to-do list, I’d mark either Love It or Hate It. If I kind of liked it, then it would be a Hate It – I had to be like, “Yes I love this” for it to be Love It.
What it helped me to see was, if a task kept coming up and I kept putting Hate It, that was a sign to me that I needed to get it off my plate. So I had to delegate it.
Then, I had to figure out how I could get that job off my plate.
There might be somebody on your team who can take that on, whether it’s an assistant, another lawyer, a paralegal, a legal exec, whoever. Maybe you need to hire an assistant for those kinds of Hate It tasks if there’s a few of them.
It really depends on where you’re at in your journey as a law firm owner, as to who you can delegate to, and whether you need to hire somebody to help you.
But definitely look at where you can delegate stuff so that you can work in your zone of genius doing the things that you’re super amazing at.
#3: Use technology
To have a modern approach towards practicing law, and to be innovative, you need to be regularly looking at your processes, and finding where you can add in technology to help you out.
When it comes to a four-day work week, this becomes extra important because you need to reduce the time you’re spending on things.
So becoming really aware of what the processes are in your firm, getting the processes really tight, making sure that they’re working really well so that you can use technology to automate them, is super important.
It’s something that you really need to turn your mind to, but there is a trap here as well.
While you do need to make decisions, it’s also not a good idea to just jump on new technologies just because you did a Google search and something popped up and it sounded good.
Spend a bit of time actually figuring out what you need. Have a chat with a couple of people and get somebody to act as a sounding board for you.
That way that you can make the best technology decisions, so that you don’t have to rework them later.
#4: Implementing systems
Law firm owners often say to me, “Oh, we’ve got lots of systems in our law firm. We’re really good at systemising our approach.”
That might be true to a certain extent, but often the systems are all in the law firm owner’s head. Their systems aren’t documented or communicated in a logical format to the rest of the team.
What then ends up happening is people are doing things differently. Which means that speeding that system up or automating it is really difficult.
So figure out the systems you’re using, particularly when it comes to your client experience. From the moment the client comes into the office, to the moment that you’re closing the file and sending them on their way, really systemising that whole process will help you start to speed things up.
Looking really closely at that client journey is the first step before you start bringing in pieces of tech, so you have systems in place to make sure it runs like clockwork without you.
So those are my top four tips, but I also just want to cover one of the pitfalls when it comes to the four-day work week.
When we first implemented our trial, we did it for a couple of months and then we reviewed it.
The feedback was quite general, and everyone was saying, “Yeah, we love it, it’s such a great idea.”
But I noticed that, particularly with my executive team, a number of them were still quite burnt out and weren’t quite themselves when we were having one of our quarterly meetings.
So I said to them, “Are you actually taking the Friday off?” And they were all like, “Oh, I work some of the day but I love that I don’t have to work. I love that I can work from home or just do a couple of hours, but I still work every Friday.”
And I said, “Well, no, that’s not the point. The point is that you do not work. You go and do something for yourself that day. You are not allowed to work.”
But it was important to actually figure out why they felt compelled to do that.
Like, is it a mindset thing, or is it because there’s work happening at the office that is demanding their attention? Because if that’s the case then you need to get systems in place to figure that out. But if it’s mindset, well you need to work on that as well.
What we found out was that it was largely a mindset thing.
So we set a rule that we weren’t to work and that we would share on a Friday the things that we would do for ourselves. We would schedule in, whether it was playing golf, or going for a massage, or whatever it was.
Everyone went in and scheduled their things and did their things. And we would share them, to basically hold each other accountable to actually taking a day off.
This whole mindset thing is especially true for lawyers, because when you’ve worked so hard for so long, there’s a little bit of guilt that comes with taking a Friday off every week.
But once we got people into the groove of taking the Friday off, that’s really when we started to see results and work well together as a team.
The ideas that started coming through were much better. Our ability to work faster as a team and pick up more momentum as a business really grew.
And I think it’s largely due to the four-day week.
We’re much more rested. And that feels pretty revolutionary to me.
If you’re interested in scaling a law firm, or building, designing and selling online legal solutions and learning about how to do the marketing around that, then there’s plenty more for you to discover over in my Savvy Lawyers Facebook group.