It's been 1.5 years of freelancing and 4-day work weeks (30h / week). The original plan was to use the fifth day for non-billable work such as searching clients, meeting with people, doing mandatory paperwork, writing blog posts, doing something that would later generate passive income etc.
Did everything go like planned?
The Reality Strikes
The idea of having one extra-day sounds like you could do anything: run side-business, learn new languages/skills, collaborate on an open-source project etc.
Unfortunately, you don't get extra 24 hours. It's more likely to be extra 5-8 hours. Depending on your life-situation you might have a better-half, kids, pets, housework etc. All of them are your past decisions you need to live with and all of them require attention. For example I start my day with a 1.5 hour walk with my dog Fanny and after that I'll start doing what ever I have on the list. Of course it's not time wasted, but it's time out of things you've planned to do.
The original plan was to use the day to meet possible clients, but one of the biggest (positive) surprises was how little amount of time I have been spending to search and meet clients. The main reason is that I have had very long client relationships and one client at the time. For example, next time I could take new client is after autumn and it's now June 5th.
Benefits of having one non-billable day
Having a day that doesn't belong to a customer has definitely improved all the other days. Let me explain.
On the working days I can focus 100% on the current client work as I don't have to go to meetings with people from other companies and run errands.
Not having meetings decreases the worry of running behind schedule and not having to run errands during work day decreases interruptions.
I normally get rid of sleep debt on Friday by sleeping a bit longer than on working day. Therefore the work week doesn't affect my weekend as the recovery has been already taken care of.
How to get the most out of your extra day?
You might feel bad if you don't accomplish things you've planned and the whole thing can turn against you. The idea was to down-shift and focus on things you like to do, not ruin one day each week.
I have learnt that you shouldn't do too exact plans, instead you should have a list of things to do and from there you can pick one thing that you want to get done and rest of the things are just bonus. This way you always feel that you have accomplished something.
My free day is normally on Friday's and first thing I do is get rid of possible sleep debt that has been slowly increasing between Monday and Thursday. Breakfast and out with the dog. Few hours of work and lunch with my wife. Then few hours of work and travel to martial arts training. That's it.
Have you tried different working schedules than regular 9-5 Mon - Fri? I would like to hear your experiences!