4 days on, 3 days off: A schedule that maximizes productivity, reduces stress

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A former boss of mine once said the ideal weekly schedule is four days on and three days off. She was referring to the most efficient and healthy way to balance getting obligatory work done and taking time for yourself. This means four days of allocating your energy toward the work you need to finish. Think about it like a 9-to-5 job with breaks for nourishment and movement. That may sound a bit disheartening, but giving ourselves a set amount of time to get things done can be more helpful than harmful, especially as students who are now learning remotely. Scheduling days like this forces us to focus and perform. Additionally, it can provide some more structure to your day if that is something you need.

This boss elaborated further, emphasizing that if people were to devote their energy in such a manner, they would probably be more relaxed and agile in the tasks they have to do. I don’t know how beneficial this 4-to-3 ratio would be for everybody, but in a time when days seem to mix together and sticking to a set routine can sometimes be difficult, this sort of schedule may be helpful. This may be especially true for students who are looking to avoid procrastination or the feeling of days just slipping by. 

The 4-to-3 weekly schedule can work in many ways. For students, it may be best to align this schedule with your personal class schedule. For instance, if you have classes Tuesday through Friday, it may be best to designate those four days to schoolwork and other obligatory tasks. In this instance, you would be doing your four “on” days back to back. This may be a preferred way for some — it certainly is for me. Other ways to work with this schedule could include alternating on and off days every other day or every two days. Ultimately, the way that you develop the 4-to-3 schedule depends on your personal obligations and preferences. The most important part about all this is that you make sure to split your energy wisely and intentionally to maximize work productivity and reduce stress. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up completing all of your tasks in three days. Then, you have four days to explore your other avenues of interest.

This sort of schedule may not work for everyone. For example, it was really hard for me to practice the 4-to-3 ratio when my obligations weren’t virtual — so much would come up in a day that I could never stick to this fairly rigid schedule. Now that we go to “UC Zoom” and tasks are remote, however, this sort of scheduling has been a more adaptable practice. It feels really nice to have three consecutive days doing creative things, watching movies, playing the guitar, reading, cooking, lounging and/or having virtual hangouts. It also feels awesome to devote days to getting things done and then reflecting on all the progress that was made in one day just by focusing my energy on obligatory tasks. 

If you are looking to rework your schedule, this may be a great starting point for you. Perhaps this is the sort of schedule you already follow, but if it isn’t and you want to test out something new, try it!

Contact Gina Wright at [email protected].