4 days a week

I just watched a TED video, where Steven Jonston discussed where good ideas come from. In the video, he what he calls a ‘slow hunch’ and how sometimes the really great breakthroughs take time, and a connected mind, to happen. He talked about the creation of GPS, which all began out of a couple of scientists playing around in their lab when the Sputnik satellite went up.

The more we look, the more we see the benefit of projects which are slow. We’re witnessing the dawn of a new cognitive surplus; where what you do OUTSIDE of work (or your productive time, call it what you will) matters more than what you do on the clock.

I guess, by way of concluding this post, I’d like to share that I’ve just moved to working 4 days per week at Ai-Media, for exactly this reason. I believe that I’m more productive, and much more useful to myself, Ai-Media and others by having more time to do things slowly. It will allow me to say to yes to more things. I’m free on Fridays, and will probably be lurking at some of the local Sydney Jellies from now on. My ultimate hunch, is that the idea of working ‘full time’ is quickly coming to an end. I for one, can’t wait to see what we produce when all these slow hunches come together.

14 thoughts on “4 days a week

  1. Steve,

    Congrats on doing the 0.8 thing.

    However we wangle it, whether it be by going p/t or by building slow time in other ways, the principle is sound. Of course its not a new one; the idea of the sabbath (civil society), and sabbaticals (in academia), have the motive of regeneration at the core. Its a tragedy of contemporary workplaces that there is rarely such time. At the end of the day, rather than lament the systemic failures, we’ve all got the choice to make our own slow spaces … so good effort.

    The danger of course, as has happened with sabbaticals etc and numerous attempts at going p/t to create space, is that we just fill up the space with more busyness. It always comes back to our commitment to quarantine slow time, whatever our work obligations.


    1. Thanks Col, you’re so right. I need to make sure I don’t fill those days
      with ‘busyness’ and keep it free for emergent outcomes. Already, I’m finding
      this tough but it’s something I’m constantly trying to be mindful of.


  2. Ahh, yes: the beautiful and unicorn-elusive (or so it would seem) balance of Shipping It or Incubating It. I incubate projects. Sometimes for a long time. I catch hell for it, but that’s okay.

    Thanks for sharing this TED talk – dug it! After watching it and reading your post, this post from Havi came to mind: http://www.fluentself.com/blog/mindful-time-management/follow-the-rabbit-holes/

    Though it’s not exactly related to what you’re discussing here, in terms of slow projects, I think it’s still really useful. 🙂

      1. – My master’s thesis. Heavens…it’s one year in the making, already. And it’s not set to be finished until December. Writing and reading, slowly.
        – Some client work. Part of my business offerings include copywriting. What may take *some* writers half an hour to plunk down on paper, may take me several hours to slowwwly craft. Can’t help it…just a slow writer.
        – Blog posts. Boy, am I slow about that. Or perhaps it’s a matter of deprioritizing my blog. 🙂 teehee

        Thanks for asking this question. You know what it also brought up? I realized that sometimes I *do* just Ship It. The first project that came to mind that I didn’t slowly marinade was a project from last December, called Reverb10.com. We created and launched in a matter of weeks. It was a whirlwind. And fantastic.

        What about you, Steve? What’s one slow project you’re working on right now? (btw, congrats on moving to 4 days/week!)

      2. Thanks for sharing!

        I busy myself with a few different slow-projects, most of which I’ve spoken about on the blog before.

        – We’ve launched the Awesome Foundation Sydney (http://bit.ly/eCENtl)
        – With Lantern, @edwardharran and I helped pull together the recent Lantern Mental Health 2.0 Unconference (http://bit.ly/gkgXoQ )
        – I’m still really proud that we organise Trampoline! (http://bit.ly/fJZObM)

        What is everyone else’s slow projects?

      3. PS – Jellies are AWESOME! I do tons of coworking (‘specially because I work for myself, and need other creative, innovative minds around me!)

  3. Steve, I tend not to categorise projects as slow or otherwise. My perspective is that any project where the solution, outcome or process is notoff-the-shelf, requires slow time. The slow time, for me includes (attempting to) suspending my preconceived ideas, listening to multiple inputs whether that means people, written material, the wind … and allowing thinking to brew like a slow cooked curry or a suitably strong pot of Tetleys. 🙂


    1. Thanks Col 🙂 I think that’s a great way to think about it. It’s not that
      idea need to be necessarily ‘slow’ – but that we give them that space for

      I love the image of a slowly cooked curry. Now I’m getting hungry…

  4. Hi Steve, I’ve just started a new job, and I’m working 4 days a week too. I definitely think it gives me more time to follow my other creative instincts and the opportunity to develop new skills that are useful in my life (including work) that I wouldn’t have the chance to develop otherwise. I think that more and more employers will realise that accommodating part timers works out well for the business and that they can benefit from the contribution we make. I was surprised at how easy it was to get the part time hours – all I had to do was ask for it. In fact the hardest part was getting the courage to ask the question!

    1. Hey Sonya!

      That sounds awesome – you’re so right, all you have to do is ask. I think
      that most employers would be amenable to it – 4 days means you’re still
      around a lot and it also reduces your pay by 20%, which is a good thing.
      It’s an exciting time!

      How did you find the first ‘day’ you had out?

  5. This part time concept is typical of a generation that prefers to ride on the coat tails of its predecessors. There seems to be a headlong rush to intellectual despotism and layaboutness. The proof of the puddiing will be in the eating. I look forward to seeing the measureable benefits that result from this process.

    1. Thanks Half-Back-Flank 🙂 

      I agree that the measurable benefits will display the proof of the concept. I guess, perhaps, that we share different ideas about just what those benefits may be, though!

      Cheers for the comment, I look forward to seeing your discussions and input around this blogs community more! 🙂  

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