The Friday Experiment: Making time for business strategy

I was having dinner with my friends recently. I hadn’t seen them for ages. Work was extremely busy and the weeks had flown by.

I realised during dinner that I wasn’t really listening to what my friends were saying.

My brain was scrambled and filled with white noise. I wasn’t working but I wasn’t enjoying my time off either.

The life of a freelancer is one of feast and famine. Even when you’re busy the fear of the famine is never far away and that creates a reluctance to say “no” to work. As demand for my copywriting services has grown, I have adjusted my capacity to deliver accordingly.

But what about work-life balance? I have been working harder, not smarter, and I knew the risk was creative burnout, not to mention becoming “the boring friend”…

And so begins The Friday Experiment.

The what?

I believe you should always look for ways to grow, personally and professionally, but always with a sense of perspective. In my excitement to take advantage of the demand for my copywriting services, I looked for ways to get everything done. My weeks were packed with client work, sometimes spilling over onto the weekends, which were already spent keeping my regular marketing activity flowing.

In all the excitement, something changed. Writing wasn’t as fun as it once was. I was feeling the pressure of meeting deadlines without compromising on the quality of my service delivery, which is extremely important to me.

When I took Copywrite Matters on my holiday overseas, it triggered something within. I knew it was time to think hard about how I wanted Copywrite Matters and my life to fit together.

The goals

My motivation for change is pretty simple.

I want to spend more time on my strategic direction rather than furiously working to meet the next project deadline.

I want available brain space to put together creative, evocative marketing for Copywrite Matters, because marketing is what I love.

I want more quality free time to enjoy life.

But time doesn’t magic itself up. I needed to make that time for myself. So that is just what I’ve done.

The implementation

Copywrite Matters now closes on Fridays. I’m still working but Friday is my day to work behind the scenes in a focused and deliberate manner.

I’ll be looking at strategic goal setting, designing new marketing initiatives, creating content, strategic blog work including writing blogs, researching and writing guest blog posts, and catching up on any leftover administration in order to start the week afresh.

In order to make it work I need to do a couple of things:

  • Make sure I’m tracking against specific, measurable goals.
  • Deal with my biggest distractions.
  • Set the right expectations for people trying to get in touch with Copywrite Matters.

One of my biggest (self-inflicted) distractions is email so I am creating an email responder to tell people that I’m off the radar but only for the day. The automated response will let them know that I’ll check my emails at 10am and 3pm (only) and respond to anything urgent. Anything else will have to wait until Monday when normal service will resume.

Another potential distracter is social media but, to be honest, I love social media and everyone gets a bit loose when the weekend looms, so I’ll continue to mooch around to enjoy the Friday fun.

What will people think?

I have thought seriously about how this will look to potential clients and industry peers. Does it look like I’m just taking a long weekend every week? If it does, is that a bad thing? What will new clients think?

I personally think it shows that I am serious about running a successful business. That kind of professional approach shines across my copywriting services so I don’t think I’m compromising my brand values.

I’d love to get your thoughts on the matter. Would you consider this for your business? Or perhaps you do it already?


22 Responses

  1. Hey CD
    I’ve haven’t worked a full week since 2005 and it rocks! The whole reason was that elusive work life balance thang. But lately work has increased and I find myself hunched miserably over the computer more and more.
    So from now on Kate Toon Copywriter is close on Wednesdays!!  I’m taking that day to do creative stuff. Next week I’m making a short film, the week after starting my novel.

    Phone will be off. Internet ignored. Clients postponed for just that 24 hours. Surely they can live without me that long?

    May the force be with us!

    1. Ha! I have factored in a little world-crumbling while I’m offline but I’m sure everyone will survive 😉 

      I love your idea of doing creative stuff as I know that’s a big part of what you do. For me I just want to enjoy my weekends without compromising my plans for business growth. I want it all and I want it now. Or at least at reasonably planned intervals.

  2. Timely post! I’ve been thinking about doing the same on Friday’s… I had considered just doing half a day, but I think think that’s commitment enough. I could just see myself being distracted and not sticking to my half day rule.

    1. Even though any dedicated time will help I agree that it’s so easy to let “productive distractions” bleed your time away. Discipline is a must! 

      I also wanted to make sure I was tracking against specific goals rather than just waking up each Friday wondering what cool stuff I was going to magic up. 

      *whip crack!*

  3. Good for you Belinda! I totally understand how easy it is for work to start taking over your “time off”. Even though I’m officially on holidays at the moment, I still took work away with me on our trip to the West (although that was partially due to my husband deciding to leave a few days earlier than planned).

    I’m a firm believer that great communication is the key to setting expectations and reducing friction with clients (and everyone in general for that matter!) So long as you make your new working hours clear, I don’t think you’ll run into too many problems.

    I hope the new arrangement works well for you and look forward to hearing how you go.

    Good luck! 🙂

    1. Thanks Anna. I absolutely agree about the importance of setting the right expectations. I’ve been starting to let regular clients know – as we’ve been scheduling meetings etc – but I’ll also be keeping regular tabs on how people are responding. 

      After all, silence is not necessarily acceptance!!

  4. Seriously Belinda, are you looking over my shoulder or something? I was just saying to a business coach yesterday that my life consists of “chase the job, get the job, do the job, chase the bjob, get the job, do the job”. Lather, rinse, repeat. There’s no time to sit back and take a “balcony view” of my business and what direction I want to take it. Even in the famine periods – where I should take advantage of the quiet to get on with some strategic planning – things look more like “chase the job, chase the job, chase the job”!

    1. haha! I am not surprised to learn this is a common problem and the fear is never far away … but we can’t let it rule us!
      I took my own lead from business owners like Leah from The Golden Goose and Kate Toon who have drawn a line in the sand and say NO to all work and no play. I urge to you rise up too Nicole! 

    2. I hear you Nicole! I’m guilty of the same… when I’m really busy I promise myself that during the next quiet phase I’ll take time out, but I never do. I can’t really go to a whole or even half-day regular absence, however I have at least kept Sunday’s work-free for the past few weeks. Baby steps!

  5. Brilliant stuff, Belinda! Sounds like you’re about to ‘weave’ some life into your work. I believe our Leah from The Golden Goose is closed on Fridays. It seems to have done her a power of good. May it benefit you likewise! Best regards, P. 🙂

    1. Thanks Paul! I was actually inspired by Leah and Kate Toon (who has commented above). I saw their working week’s and thought “jeez, that sounds nice” before I took stock and realised that no one was giving that to them. They were making it happen! And now so am I 🙂

      I’ve already cleared a load of tasks from my Someday pile and it feels good.

  6. Good for you, Belinda.

    It is so important to take time out, probably even more so for those of us who are creative as exhaustion and too-much-work tend to dampen creativity.

    I do allocate time for non-client work, usually half days at a time, but have also thought of making a set day each week.

    Hope it goes well for you.

  7. Hey Belinda

    Just a quick comment to let you know I was so inspired by this post I decided to follow suit with “Marketing Wednesday”.

    It’s been something I’ve been telling myself I should do for ages.

    So far, results have been great. I’m really enjoying writing my own stuff instead of all client work.

    1. That’s awesome Charles! The biggest challenge I have had so far is making sure I’m as focused on Friday’s as I am every other day. I’ve had to make sure I’ve got clear goals I’m working towards so I don’t just spend the day taking easy wins (without strategic value).

      I’d love to know how you find it after a few weeks or months.

  8. Love how you’ve decided to make this transition and are working hard to make it happen. I think it is a great approach and freeing up your brain is important!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey CC – thanks for commenting!

      Since implementing my Friday Experiment I’ve introduced more structure to make sure I get the most out the day. One Friday a month I do financial planning, one is spent on marketing and one on product development….. that leaves one Friday for creativity.

      I head to a creative space, like a gallery or museum or the city and just mooch with no agenda. I absorb the atmosphere and watch people and generally let my brain be idle.

      It’s an island of peace in my month!

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