In November of 2020, I came across this video below on YouTube that explained why the current work week sucks.
(Okay, that wasn't the hook of the video, but that was my personal takeaway.)
So as a person that doesn’t subscribe to corporate productivity measures and tactics, I have to say, I was intrigued by any concept that dared defy how we see our typical work week.
The video then went on to explain a concept that I had actually found myself doing, albeit in a less structured way: a no-work Wednesday. Or in the creator’s own words: Weekend Wednesday.
I’ll leave you to watch the video yourself, but the TL;DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch) version is this.
Working from Monday to Friday with no rest day in between isn’t the best. You’re left extremely drained by the end, and a 2-day weekend isn’t nearly enough to recharge all the way back up to 100% again.
I had to admit: I’d long felt the same. And ever since I took the plunge to work on my business full-time, I’d been working an atypical work week myself (that I’ll explain later).
Why I (too) disliked the current week setup
Look, I might just be propagating the stereotype about millennials being the death of everything by saying: I didn’t like corporate work.
Or I suppose the more accurate way to describe it was: I didn’t feel cut out for corporate work.
Because I thrived working on my own terms. I often finished deliverables and tasks way ahead of a usual 8-hour window. My entire being never understood why I had to sit down at a desk for 8 hours, even if that meant doing nothing because, well, there truly was nothing to do.
Of course, I could have very much tried to find something to do (as I remember an old boss telling me). But sometimes, no matter how I tried, there was really nothing I could’ve done.
But because corporate productivity demanded I be in an office 8 hours a day meant I couldn’t leave until I’d rendered those 8 hours in the office, I resorted to keeping busy.
Often, that meant busy work. I organized and reorganized files and folders on Google Drive. I checked and rechecked my PowerPoints for design changes, copy changes, and other teeny-tiny changes that I doubt would have swayed any buyer’s idea about our company’s proposal.
So my reasons for not liking the typical work week mostly had to do with corporate expectations, but once I found myself working for myself full-time, the reason shifted.
Why did I need to work like everyone else anyway?
From a dislike of corporate productivity standards, my reason for questioning the typical work week came in the form of a natural tendency of mine.
And this tendency was questioning everything. (I’m a Questioner on Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies personality framework. Go figure.)
At first, I found myself working typical hours you might work at a corporate job. But overtime, it felt unsustainable.
Some days—and by days, I mean sometimes days at a time—I had really low levels of energy on days I thought I should’ve been working. And then there were days when I had really high levels of energy on days I thought I shouldn’t have been working (aka weekends).
I continued on that cycle for a while. Until the obvious hit me:
I didn’t need to stick to this work week! I worked for myself, didn’t I? Didn’t that mean I could make my work week look however the heck I wanted?
And thus began my evolving experiment of my ideal work week. What ensued was messy structure, weeks of logging my productivity versus energy levels, and missing the mark sometimes.
Until I came across the video that I linked above, and I was convinced to base my experiment on someone else’s.
How No-Work Wednesday Works
If you watched the video I shared, you already know how Weekend Wednesday/No-Work Wednesday works.
Instead of working Monday to Friday, you take a “weekend” on Wednesday, resume work from Thursday to Saturday, then take your second day off on Sunday.
It’s not a 4-day work week, where you keep your Saturday and Sunday intact then add an extra day off. In my opinion, I think the 4-day work week is great, especially if you work for someone else.
But because I worked for myself and admittedly fell in the category of “Actually Likes Working and Is a Borderline Workaholic,” taking 3 entire days off work didn’t feel necessary to me.
So I wanted to keep my 5-day work week, but I just wanted to optimize it a little better than the typical work week I was used to coming from a corporate job.
Because of that, the No-Work Wednesday felt like a good place to start.
Why Wednesday? Why not any other day?
Being the Questioner that I am, I found myself naturally thinking, “Did I have to do the same thing as the dude in the video and assign Wednesday as my day off?”
(Note: the creator had very compelling evidence for picking Wednesday, but I have own, as I’ll tell you about now.)
My first instinct was not to choose Wednesday because it felt so early in the week. I thought of swapping it with Thursday, but ultimately what swayed my decision had nothing to do with logic but rather my sense of whimsy.
You see, before I heard of Weekend Wednesday/No-Work Wednesday, I had been doing a little ritual on Wednesdays myself over on my Instagram Stories.
I called it Work With Me Wednesday (I also have it on my Story Highlights), where I took my IG Story followers along with me on my work day that took place — yep, you guessed it — on a Wednesday.
“Whoa, do I really dare go from Work With Me Wednesday to No-Work Wednesday?” I asked myself.
Was I willing to stop a ritual I’d enjoyed doing? Was I willing to do this complete 180 out of the blue?
Turns out, my friend, the answer was yes.
Results of the Experiment
Okay, so let’s jump to the results of the experiment. The mechanics were easy: switch my Wednesday work day to Saturday, and keep my Sunday as my second weekend day.
I stuck to the experiment for 4 weeks. And here’s what I noticed.
Breaking the Wednesday work habit
The hardest thing about the experiment was getting into the habit of not working on Wednesdays at all. That also included taking client calls or any kind of business-related activity, even if it was one I enjoyed. Like blogging.
This is coming from the girl who used to post on her Instagram Stories every Wednesday documenting her Work with Me Wednesday. The first week was the hardest; I almost completely forgot that I decided to do the experiment, and was just about ready to go about my day as usual.
The moment I caught myself nearly blowing the experiment before it even started, I marked every Wednesday for the next 4 weeks with an all-day event that would make sure I was unavailable on my appointment scheduling apps like Calendly. I also tried not to do anything for Instagram too, unless it was for fun or personal use.
The second week felt awkward, mostly because I wondered if this was really the best thing to do. But I prevailed, knowing that the world didn’t end the first week I tried it. And after the second week, I’m happy to report it got easier.
Did I like working on Saturdays?
The next potential roadblock other than breaking my Wednesday work habit was trying to decide if I liked working on Saturdays.
Weekends used to be this strict no-work affair for me, so starting a working Saturday habit was just as weird as stopping my working Wednesday habit.
Part of me thought I wouldn’t be able to do it because most social events happened on Saturdays, but, hey, turns out nobody makes plans that they used to when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic, so I didn’t worry about missing out.
Most social events that did fall on a Saturday were fortunately outside of my usual work hours, so that was a welcome sign of approval from the universe.
Over time, I got over my habit of considering Saturday a weekend day. It got easier to call it “my last day of work for the week.”
Some struggles and misses were made
It wouldn’t be fair for me to say that the experiment carried out as planned. I struggled, I made mistakes, just like any human being might.
Even if I did set my availability every Wednesday to Busy on my Google Calendar, I still took on a few client calls here and there. And some Saturdays weren’t my most productive. I sometimes barely worked—not because I didn’t have the energy for it, but because I just, well, got lazy.
But I stuck to the experiment as best as I could, and that’s what counts, right?
Overall, can I say that a No-Work Wednesday was healthy for my productivity?
Despite the challenge of changing habits I’d carried for years, I can say that injecting a non-working day in between the typical 5-day work week did exactly as the original creator intended.
By having a day in the middle of the work week to rest and reset, I was able to recharge some of my energy to keep working for the next 3 days. Which was pretty freaking cool.
I honestly thought that only having Sunday as my second no-work day wouldn’t be enough, but it never felt that way. So I happily kept doing the No-Work Wednesday because I genuinely enjoyed it.
And as time went on, I noticed myself doing some variations of it depending on my fluctuating energy levels. (And, come on, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic; I needed to honor my energy now more than ever.)
Variations of No-Work Wednesdays
These are based on the “mistakes” I made during my 8-week experiment. Turns out, they weren’t really mistakes. They ended up being learning moments for me. I learned about my fluctuating energy as weeks passed, and I learned to embrace that ebb and flow instead of working against it.
So here are a few variations that came up as I tried to stick to No-Work Wednesday. You might like these more, or use any as a basis to adapt your own version.
The Every Day Work Day
Yes, you read that right: the every day work day, aka working every day.
This was something that I observed happening to me a lot last year. I ended up working shorter hours on most days of the week, and spreading those hours out even on weekends.
Maybe one day that week, I end up working really long hours because I got so in the zone. Or I did more low energy-consuming tasks so my mental energy to keep working lasted way longer. Examples of those tasks include doing client calls, admin work, and recording and editing videos.
(Don’t ask me today if I still consider all of those low energy-consuming tasks, haha!)
For anyone curious, here’s how my Every Day Work Day looks like, as documented in a vlog:
The 4 and 2 Halves Work Day
The 4 and 2 Halves Work Day was me working a full 7-8 hours a day four days a week, then only working for about 2-4 hours for two more days that week.
So I might work a regular 9-5 from Monday to Thursday, then only work in the afternoon on Friday. To get my 40 hours in, I’d then work 2-4 hours on either Saturday or Sunday.
You can make your own variation of this, of course. Sometimes, I’d work half a day on Monday and Wednesday, then have my full work days on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It really depends.
The difference between this setup and the one before is that you take a full day off working instead of trickling even a couple hours of work each day.
Should companies implement No-Work Wednesdays?
I’m hesitant to say yes, mostly because it would require employees to work on Saturdays.
And unless all your friends and family also had No-Work Wednesday, you might struggle to make and keep plans together. For most of us, we only have the traditional weekend to hang out with friends and have fun with other people.
One I can encourage, however, is companies trying a 4-day work week and choosing Wednesday as the rest day for employees. Or let your employees choose the day they don’t want to work, that’s cool too.
Who can Try No-Work Wednesdays?
If you’re in a position to dictate your own work weeks—say, you’re self-employed or you work for a company that has a purely flexible setup—I say go for it.
Treat it like an experiment, like I did. That way, you won’t have to worry about sticking to it if it doesn’t work. And maybe you’ll discover some things along the way about the best productive work week for you.