How I made 3 day work weeks my reality
Your Biggest Vision
Season 3, Ep. 64

What if you could make more money, serve more people, and scale your business…all while working less?

Live from Miami! This week, I’m sharing with you how & why I made the decision to move to a 3-day work week when I came back from maternity leave. I am so passionate about striving to hit high goals, but it should never be at the cost of your lifestyle. You are the one responsible for creating your perfect work life balance (the perk of being your own boss!), and I want to be transparent with you on how I made a 3-day work week my reality.

I’ll share with you:

  • why my first trimester of pregnancy was the catalyst for working less
  • my exact process of transitioning with my team so they could run my business without me for half the week
  • the specifics of what I delegated (and what I didn’t)
  • my fears of what would happen when I made this decision, and how I worked through them

“If you’re doing something different, that will almost always be an asset.”

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Here's how & why I made the decision to move to a 3-day work week when I came back from maternity leave, and the exact steps it took to get there.

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Episode Transcription

Leah Gervais:

Hey visionaries. Welcome back to the your biggest vision show. I am Leah, your host, and I’m coming to you today, recording this from Miami. I hope that you’re having a great week. I’m so grateful to be down here with my husband and our baby. And we even brought our puppy Ruby. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you might see some of our adventures.

It’s just been so nice to get out of New York. This is the first time I’ve, well, no, that’s not true. This is the first vacation we’ve taken since we had our baby, but we did leave New York twice before this, but each time it was just for 24 hours once to Connecticut to see family, and then once to North Carolina for a wedding. So it really feels like this is the first time I’ve really been out of New York since like my third trimester of pregnancy, which was, you know, six months ago at this point.

And, uh, I really, as much as I love New York, I really believe that to make the most of the city it’s important to leave every like month or so was kind of my rule of thumb before I had a baby. So six months was a while, probably the longest like consecutive time I’ve spent in New York, um, in a time.

So it feels really nice to be here and because of spring break and Miami music week and ultra and just all the crazy things going on in Miami, um, right now we wanted to come for a week instead of, you know, try to make, just squeeze it all into a weekend when, when it’s so hectic. So that is what I’ve been up to. I hope that you are taking some time for yourself as well, and remembering to really spend your life living it the way that you probably set out to do when you started your business or when you started your side hustle.

And, um, you know, I know sometimes it can feel like you don’t have time to take off or you don’t have the money to take off. And I really don’t ever let myself believe those lies. I think that there’s really always a way, um, the more you can kind of like find that and live in integrity, actually the more your business will grow.

I hope that you are enjoying yourself as well. And with that kind of, that’s kind of a good introduction for today’s topic, which is how I transition to 3 day work weeks. And I’m so excited to be talking about this because I feel like over the past few years, I’ve taught so much about money. You know, how I made X amount in a month or X amount from a launch or X amount in a year or whatever.

And I still am really passionate about hitting high goals. And those were some really incredible achievements that I’ll forever be proud of, but there’s an equal, if not more conversation that entrepreneurs need to have with each other about, um, lifestyle and, you know, not being the, not being forgotten at the cost of your income goals, um, or at the cost of your income period. 

And so it really doesn’t matter how high your numbers are if you’re not actually enjoying them. You know, that’s, that’s what the kind of golden handcuffs are for a lot of people that have really successful corporate jobs, um, you know, on wall street and, and big law, things like that. They’re making tons and tons of money, but they’re working 20 hours a day or a hundred hours a week, or whatever, crazy kind of statistics there are out there. So it really doesn’t matter how much they’re making and we don’t want to inadvertently end up in a place like that again.

So I’m so excited to talk about some, you know, kind of an achievement, I guess, for lack of a better word. I don’t like to be so, um, kind of categorized about this, but a, a win in my book about, from my business that is different than just how much money we can make. And for me, it has looked like how I went from working five, if I’m being honest, more like six, sometimes seven days a week to 3 day work weeks. 

I wanna talk about why I decided to do this exactly what it looks like and what you might consider if you’re considering doing some shifts as well. So let’s dive in, um, for background we’ll, I’ll just go kind of consecutively through this, uh, around this time last year I found out I was pregnant and it actually wasn’t all by design that I ended up having 3 day work weeks.

It was sort of the result of a pretty brutal first trimester. I have been pretty open about the fact that I had a rough first trimester with this pregnancy. Uh, for me it was the har it was the hardest part of my pregnancy and including the newborn phase, my first trimester was still the hardest. It just really was hormonally intense on me, emotionally intense.

I lost so much energy. I, I really just didn’t feel like myself. It was just kind of a complete culture shock to go from doing things one way, one day to the next day, having virtually no energy, not wanting to work out, being constantly anxious about if I was doing things right. Not really knowing how to be pregnant, not being able to tell anyone about it.

It was also during the time when the COVID vaccine was first being rolled out, I was in Florida where the vaccination rates were lower and I was just nervous in general about getting COVID pregnant.

And, and no one really knew it was just a very stressful few months for me. And it was very physically taxing. I was just physically exhausted. I felt like I had no energy, no motivation. I think that was the biggest just for me was feeling like all of a sudden I had no motivation as someone who genuinely gets up every day and enjoys, sorry, there’s a plane flying over me. Um, enjoys the work that they do to feeling like I couldn’t get myself outta bed.

It was like, I didn’t know who I was anymore. So all this is to say that I sort of didn’t have a choice. I really just couldn’t work five days a week anymore. And through the encouragement of, uh, my best friend and, and my team shout out to them, uh, I was able to just go down to four days a week at the time.

And at first it was just sort of this like survival mechanism to get through my first trimester. But as we continued to kind of get the hang of it and try to just be more structured about what that could look like for our team. And for me, I got to thinking and thought, what would it look like if it was like this permanently? Or what would it look like if I could have 3 day work weeks, what do I want my work life to look like when this baby comes?

And I really could not anticipate, and didn’t even honestly try to picture what my life would look like when our baby arrived. I just didn’t, I don’t know if that is common or if that was out of the normal, but I just didn’t spend that much time trying to picture my life with my baby.

We might hear sneezing right now. So I didn’t really try to go down that it whole, but I did think, I at least wanna have the option to have 3 day work weeks in case I wanna spend the other two with him or in case I don’t want to send him to daycare for those two or in case I need time for myself. I really didn’t know what childcare would look like for us.

I really didn’t know what work with a baby would look like, and I didn’t try, but I thought it would be smart to set myself up for that. And also just knew that to some level, that was something that I had in the back of my mind when I started my business years ago, I always knew I wanted to be a mom at some point. I didn’t know when, um, it wasn’t, you know, something I was super eager to do, but I thought it was something I’d eventually do.

And so having your own business does give you a lot of mobility and flexibility that having a nine to five job does not as a mom. So I thought, Hey, this is the time to, you know, to leverage that and to take advantage of that. I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on stuff that I really don’t have to be missing out on.

We spent the rest of my pregnancy basically practicing me having 3 day work weeks. And the way it started at first was having the two days a week where I was off be practice maternity leave days. So it worked out really well because I essentially had to give everyone a crash course in how to manage without me and we hired accordingly. And I can talk a little bit more about that in a second. And we delegated accordingly and organized accordingly.

And I just wanted to see how everyone did when I wasn’t there. And I would kind of watch them on slack, like watch how everyone would interact and, you know, uh, expect things to break. Like I didn’t expect everything to go perfectly. And it was for those practices that we could kind of see what, what was missing and what support wasn’t there.

And through those, we, everyone just sort of got used to me having 3 day work weeks now, to be honest, uh, for most of my pregnancy, even though I had 3 day work weeks, I still would email my team and clients on Thursday. And I, I worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I would still often email my team and clients on Thursday and Friday. So I would still talk to my team and I would still talk to my clients.

But the things we started shifting is like, I wouldn’t take calls on Thursday and Fridays. Um, we would open my schedule on Thursdays and Fridays. I would book personal things on those days. I would start asking my team on Wednesdays. What do you need for me for the following two days? And just start to kind of get things slowly away from things happening on those two days, I rescheduled meetings etcetera, so that they were free days and that we were able to do pretty quickly.

The reason I didn’t stop talking to my team or my clients yet was because for many of my clients, I already had signed contracts with them that included support Monday through Friday. So I was not gonna go back to them and say, Hey, by the way, I got pregnant. And now your support is gonna go down by two days a week because that’s not fair to them.

It obviously wasn’t something they were aware of when they, um, signed wasn’t something I was aware of. So I obviously stayed in integrity and kept my end of those contracts. Um, and then with my team, it was really just about getting them the utmost support to prepare. And some days that just meant that they needed me for on days four or five. And that was fine.

And on days four or five, I also would do some behind the scenes work on my own. I would plan things. I would record podcasts sometimes. So it took a while for them to be completely off. And I just wanna be clear about that because I don’t want anyone to think that it’s something that happens overnight. Um, and I think it’s okay to work as you need on those days so long as you are doing it intentionally with intention to wind down from them to be in a situation where in a few months you could stop them completely.

Cuz you just also wanna be careful that you’re not saying you have 3 day work weeks, but then still having the work of five days a week and then either end up working five days a week or just being stressed out of your mind basically when you are working. So that was kind of the way we transitioned it and it wasn’t, it was not perfect.

You know, there were certainly times when I felt like, I don’t know if I can do this. And some days I worked on the weekends and some days worked on five days a week and it was just an imperfect transition, but it started with scheduling and getting things off my calendar, Thursdays and Fridays. And then the next thing you needed to do was look at the team and think, how can they function independently on Thursdays and Fridays?

So, um, what we did for that is I changed things around a little bit. I actually promoted who the woman who was my assistant, her name is Brooke. Some of you who our clients may be familiar with her to manage our team for me. So I kind of moved things around because at, at that point I had had Abby who works for me full-time she was sort of the COO. She was sort of like my right hand woman. 

But she was also doing like customer service and coaching and she really loved coaching. And so I thought if I really wanna have 3 day work weeks, I need someone who can fully oversee the team and someone who can fully oversee our clients. And those need to be two different people because I can’t be in charge of either of those anymore.

So with that, I had to get really clear on what my responsibilities would be and what it came down to is I’m in charge of coaching. The client work that I do have, I’m not the only one who does it, but I do have it. And obviously that’s my responsibility. I’m also in charge of content. There’s just pieces of our business that the content is mine to create. And I love that. And that’s what I do.

I love writing our emails. I love writing my social media. I love making videos going live. That stuff is some of my favorite part of our business. And then strategizing, visioning, you know, looking forward that is by far my favorite. That’s why I’m so good at business coaching because strategizing and looking to the future is my zone of genius, which when I help with others is why we get, they get such good results.

So I really got focused on those three things. And then we started thinking, okay, what else is on my plate that I need to delegate that isn’t coaching with my clients, which for me is basically my, a mastermind. I do scalier side hustle and a sales coaching call. And then I have a few very few one-on-one clients that I take on only people that I, you know, really know that I can, I can be there for. Um, and that are a really good fit for me.

It’s not something I do frequently. And then how do I, uh, make sure that I have enough time for content and what else is there? So at that point I was sort of overseeing the team. I was running our team meetings. I was in charge of the slack channels, all of that. And when I promoted Brooke, I moved her to all of that.

So she runs our team meetings. Now she also oversees all of the responsibilities and makes sure they make sure they get done. And she is in charge of the slack channels. And so she kind of mirrored me for a little while and then eventually we got, I, I, I kind of stayed quiet in them and she kind of oversees them now. And then in terms of client and customer service and additional coaching, we moved that entirely over to Abby, who is our lead coach.

Now she does more coaching than I do. She’s really good at it. And then we thought, okay, social media. That’s another thing that takes up a lot of my time that I don’t wanna have to be totally reliant, uh, for it, it shouldn’t be all on me, especially during maternity leave when I didn’t wanna have to be on my phone.

So we hired out social media, um, and got some help with that, which has been a game changer, especially because I’m someone who sometimes will go a week without social media, you on my phone at all. Um, I kind of go through phases where I either want it on or, or don’t. Um, and then we also thought, what else could I get help with?

And it was more about like scheduling logistics in person work. And so I moved my virtual assistant who was Brooke. I promoted her and then decided to hire a new assistant, um, who was in New York. I wanted her to be there in person so she could help me out with things in person. So that was kind of how I thought about things and decided to restructure things from a very practical point of view. Now let’s talk a little bit about some mindset work here.

So it might sound like it’s all easy to do on paper or that it’s very straightforward, but there’s an equal amount of work that you need to kind of do in your own mind to make this work. And if you’re listening to this, you might know what I mean here. Or if you’re thinking about doing this, you might have been familiar with the fears that come up when doing this.

Truth be told, I was afraid to do this for so many reasons. I was afraid that I was breaking something that wasn’t broken my business, which hit seven figures last year. So to go from working five days a week, knowing that with those structures and offerings and workflows, I was making literally a million dollars of sales in a year to scaling it back by 40% was terrifing.

I was afraid that I was going to dramatically drop my income simultaneously promoting my team members and hiring new ones and being responsible for them financially, all the while having a baby and the, you know, new expenses and responsibility that come with that.

So I was very afraid. I was also afraid of my clients, what they would think, what they would react to this. I was afraid that they would, um, you know, would this give me a competitive disadvantage because I’m now offering support only three days a week when there’s coaches who do it five days a week, um, is it going to look like I am lazy? You know, what are people gonna think of, of me when I tell them this, especially current clients that you know, were new with us, we have, I’ve had clients with me for years.

People I’ve seen grow from zero to seven figures. So all of those fears went through my head and I just knew that I had to do do this anyway, because I knew that I would look back and regret it. If I valued, basically if I gave more power to my fear, then the precious time with my, my baby, my newborn, who, I didn’t know, I didn’t know what it was gonna be like with him.

I didn’t know. Um, I just wanted to give myself that gift of, of presence and being with him and having flexibility and autonomy over my schedule. So that, especially while he was so little, I could do that, especially because, you know, it’s not like as an entrepreneur, you have a six month all paid maternity leave where you’re still getting a paycheck.

Every two weeks, I was able to take a maternity leave and I’m able, I, I did a whole episode on that if you’re interested, but I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to be gone for six months. I, I took nine weeks or 10 weeks, something like that, which I’m still really grateful for, for owning my own business, but still that’s, that’s, they’re still so little by the time they’re nine or 10 weeks, he was still a newborn. I was still not sleeping through the night.

And I just wasn’t willing to be at the point where I wasn’t working that much while he was that little. Um, and I knew I needed to go back to work sooner than the average woman who has a nine to five job. So this was kind of my compromise with myself. I will go back to work sooner cause I have to, but I will have only 3 day work weeks. So I had all those fears go through my head and more, I had fears about my team. I had fears about my bills. I had beers about fear beers. I had fears about my client. I should have had beers.

I had fears about my clients. I had fears about what if this, what if I was breaking my business, breaking my contracts, that, or I was, I didn’t break any contracts, but if I was changing things that people didn’t like it, all of that.

And so here’s how I encourage you to think about those fears. If you have them from a practical standpoint, really look at grounded in truth. They are. So let’s, let’s use the client. One, for example, I was afraid that my clients would be upset or, um, sad or disappointed. If I went from support, having, you know, Voxer support and email support five days a week to having it three days a week.

But when I really look at my most successful clients, the ones that are just crushing it, they are not asking me questions. Five days a week, they are too busy, running six and seven figure businesses to have the time to do that, to be totally honest. Um, many of my most successful masterminders don’t even get on every call throughout the year. It’s not cuz they don’t value it or because they don’t care, but they are just, they’re busy.

You know, they’re doing their own things and they really trust themselves. So they’re really only leveraging my support at that level when they are, um, strategizing for something bigger or when they need help with something being broken, it is not like a daily, how do I make decisions? Um, type of support, not anymore in the beginning, you sometimes need that because you’re learning to trust yourself and you’re just kind of learning the ropes.

But once you’ve hit those six or seven figures, you really don’t have time to go back and forth with someone about decisions that you trust yourself to make at that point. Anyway. So a lot of them that are are making that are, you know, making the most of their support with me do so at either at a very high level either when things are on just honestly, when there’s a fire that they need help putting out or the reverse when they have a new launch, a new idea, a new sale, a price to raise a new team member, some really exciting high level things.

And those just aren’t things that you need a knee jerk reaction or to, and from, you know, their, their discussions. They take place over days, sometimes weeks. So I started to really realize that the clients I was working with at this level, they, they don’t need support five days a week to be successful. They just don’t. And, and I, you know, CA kind of saw that if they did, I would’ve done it still.

I would’ve made a way for it to work because I would never offer someone something that I didn’t think could set them up for success. And so I, I knew that this still could, so that was kind of, you know, how I really looked at these fears and I encourage you to look at those fears too. Like, what’s really true about what it takes for you to make this happen and is changing around your schedule, really going to sacrifice that.

And what I also found, which I didn’t really expect, but was so touched by is that for many of my clients who are women, they were excited and impressed. Dare I say, and highly respectful of the fact that I was building a business around being a mom. I think for many of them too, that is something they either want in the future, or maybe it’s not motherhood specifically, that’s calling them, but just more of a work life balance.

They don’t wanna work five days a week if they don’t have to and, you know, showing them, Hey, I’m not going to, and I’m gonna show you how to do it, and you’re gonna be part of it. And we’re gonna do this together. I think it almost became an asset and I really have found that to be true.

So often in my business, when you are afraid of doing something different, even if you feel, if you’re, if you’re doing something different, that can almost always be your asset, will some people not like it? Yeah, sure. Of course.

That’s always going to be the case and they’re not your ideal client, you doing something different because it feels aligned with you and integrity with what you wanna do and build is what will attract people who wanna do and build things the same way that you do.

These were mindset shifts that I made beforehand, and there are things I’ve since learned that I’m so grateful for. And I, and I really encourage you if you’re listening to this and you’re wanting to make a similar shift to embrace and encourage, and it’s just another chance to really look within and see what’s true for you, because what is true for you will be true for your ideal client as well.

All right. So that was really what we did to prepare from a practical standpoint and from my own mindset standpoint. And I just wanna share some tips that I have found to be helpful since I have done it since it’s been, it’s been two months since I’ve been back to work now two full months, February and March. Um, and, and I’ve had 3 day work weeks for all of it. Um, sometimes I still do a little bit, well, let me just explain how it works for us.

So I decided to get help a little bit of help with childcare on one of my days off. That’s just what felt good to me because I realized that if I was only having childcare on the days that I was working, that didn’t really leave any space for self care.

For time for me to go to the gym or for time for me to run errands or see a friend. Um, and honestly, to be totally honest, I’m still struggling. Some of those things, I really am very attached to my baby at this point. And I like being with him as much as I can. So sometimes I have, um, help with him, uh, while I’m still home.

Like while I still theoretically could be with him. Um, and, and I just will use that time to like organize my room or, um, you know, do some personal things on my computer or go through emails, um, or just do some envisioning work on my business, uh, by myself. And, you know, I still, I can still like, kind of be with him, say hi to him, play with him, but just have a little bit of extra help. So I can focus on myself as well, too.

I still will sometimes do behind the scenes work on those days, but that has just been, what’s worked for me. I’m able to get childcare on those days and it feels like less like pressure. Whereas if I’m just doing some of that higher level work on those days of working, um, it can just feel really unorganized because I really try to just crank out as much as I can during my 3 day work weeks, that are my official work days, Monday through Wednesday.

So on the other days, Thursday and Friday, I set an out of office, um, reply typically so that people know that I’m not, you know, there to respond. And that really helps me because it takes away my temptation to work.

Anyway, I often will even pause my inbox so that I don’t get, um, messages to my phone or otherwise during those days, so that I actually take them off and, and present, you know, it’s one thing to just like, say, you’re not a computer working on those days or say you don’t take client calls.

And I think that’s a good start, but if you’re like theoretical, like if you’re halfway with your kid, but then you’re still thinking about work or on your phone or checking emails or checking boxer, it’s really kind of, it is a little bit beside the point, in my opinion, I really wanted to be present with him. That was what this is all about. And having childcare for a little bit of that does help me do that. So, um, really set the boundary, you know, all my clients know I’m not available Thursdays and Fridays.

I made it very clear when they signed contracts. If that was a deal breaker with them, I totally respect that. That’s not what they’re looking for and, you know, and that’s fine. Um, but I was really clear about it from the beginning.

They all know it, they’ve all been incredibly respectful about it. And so, you know, keep that boundary because I, I do find that the second you sort of like make an exception, then it’s a really fuzzy rule because then people might wonder, okay, well what’s worthy.

Or what do you deem and worthy of an exception. And you don’t really wanna be playing that game every week. If someone has something that they need help with. So whether that is pausing your inbox, taking email off your phone, taking social media off your phone, you know, telling your clients in your contracts for us, we, we keep our contracts relatively uniform just to make it clean and simple.

But in our welcome emails with all our contracts, which is what we kind of customize each thing to, we say very clearly, you know, Leah is not available Monday or is only available Monday through Wednesday and keep that boundary, give the gift to yourself no matter what it is and for you, if you’re starting out or in the early days, or maybe you’re just at six figures and you’re working eight a week, I’ve been there, do something simple by pausing your inbox once a week, like Sunday or Saturday, just like actually take time off, you know, and see what that feels like.

And then maybe you can inch it into more and more to really shape your business around your life. Um, yeah. My other tip is to plan accordingly. This is probably obvious, but the only way you’re going to get as much work done during 3 day work weeks, that you maybe you see it done in five, six or seven or eight days a week, is if there are clear plans on every day of those weeks. 

So I’m extremely focused during my 3 day work weeks. I get a crazy amount done and it’s because I have outlined what we need done every month, what we want done every week. And our team is really organized about what that looks like. And I have an amazing team who, who executes on things really well.

So, you know, I still like to work in flow. I don’t like, like things to be overly planned and overly like, checklisty because that just feels like a nine to five job for me. So for me, it really just looks like, what are my intentions this week? What do I wanna share about? what do I sell? And then I leave space for myself during the week to kind of create and see what that would look like. So I hope that you found this helpful.

If nothing else, I hope it gives you permission to push yourself, to make your business really look like what you want it to look like. No one is going to do this for you, your clients, aren’t going to come to you and say, Hey, I actually only wanna talk to you half as much as we currently are. Clients are also never gonna come to you and say, Hey, I wanna pay you more. You really have to do this work for yourself.

You have to do both the practical and the inner work to make your business look like what you want it to for your life. So I hope that giving you a little bit of a behind the scenes on how I did that is helpful to you. And even if it is something small, like raising your prices, or like taking a day off a week, I encourage you to start now, you know, your life is here.

And for so many of you that have left nine to five jobs or are leaving nine to five jobs, you’re not doing that. And all that work to be at a nine to five job of your own creation. Um, and that really does start with just the decision to do otherwise. All right. You guys thank you so much for tuning in as always. I hope you found this helpful here is to your biggest vision.

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