The 4-day week

At the start of this year I made the decision to cut-back my work at DHHS to four days a week so that I could spend one day a week focusing on my creative endeavors and my video and photography business.  After nearly pulling the pin on it in July…I’m sticking with taking the Wednesdays off for at least the rest of the year, here are a few things I’ve learnt.

The upsides

There has been roughly a 500% increase in the number of mid-week roast dinners. KPI’s around the cleanliness of the kitchen, and laundry that needs to be done have been smashed, and being able to do a mid-week market shop makes meal planning a lot easier.
It has also been fantastic spending more time with Xavier as he watches me clean the kitchen, hang out clothes and do the market shop. It’s both every 40yo man’s and every 5yo boy’s dream!

I have been able to work on three projects that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.

I won’t lie, there is something intrinsically wonderful about only working in 2 day stints. It means that every day is either a Monday or Friday…unless it’s a Wednesday, in which case, it’s a weekend!!!

The downsides

While my domestic duties KPI’s may be being smashed…the scoreboard for creative endeavors is less impressive:
Number of blog posts written = 0
Number of portraits done = 0
Number of podcasts recorded = 0

As for the business, while it has been awesome to be able to do the few photo jobs and one video job…thus far they have paid about 20% of the money I would have made if I had just worked the Wednesdays at my normal job.
On the positive side to this I currently have outstanding invoices (from jobs I have done on my weekends) that will take me to well over 50% of what I would have earned at my normal job…but an unpaid invoice, while providing some level of comfort, is of absolutely no use when you need to pay for petty little things like food. In fact, on the day before my last payday by my 4-day  week employer, the money I had in the bank was 0.03% of what I had in outstanding invoices. They’re the sorts of numbers that would make an accountant or financial planner weep. *On this, I do have a few clients who pay me the day after I invoice them, and I love those people from the bottom of my heart. But the rest of them…WTF?! You have your videos…pay your invoices!!!*

On top of that, running the business as an actual business means you have to do boring things like pay for business insurance. But as I’ve discovered, this is not in fact boring, as you get to enter a bizarro world where people come up with elaborate reasons as to why they can’t take your money.
I decided to get in contact with the insurance company that looks after our home insurance as I thought I might be able to swing a discount (I won’t say the company’s name…but let’s just say you’re “lucky” to be with them…and their name sounds the same as a girls name…and it’s AAMI…shit, this discretion thing is hard!) Here is how the conversation went:

AAMI: AAMI business insurance how can I help?
Me: I’d like to insure my business so that if any of my gear gets stolen then it’s covered. I’ve got my home and contents insurance with you, but I understand that if I’m using my gear for any sort of business then it’s not covered.
AAMI: That’s correct. What sort of work do you do.
Me: Photography…
Me: and video.
AAMI: Oh…do you do any directing with your video?
Me: Well I have to tell people where to sit or stand, and sometimes I have to get them to do things like walk into a room or do whatever it is that the video is about.
AAMI: Well I’m afraid we can’t cover you.
Me: What?
AAMI: I’m sorry but if you do any directing then we can’t cover you.
Me: But I tell people what to do with the photography as well, is that a problem?
AAMI: No…but we can’t cover you if you do it for video.
Me: But that’s insane…I mean-
AAMI: I’m sorry but that is our policy.
Me: It’s just that-
AAMI: but we do have a subsidiary company that will cover you, would you like me to put you through to them?
Me: Um…sure.

CGU: Hello, how can I help?
Me: I’d like to get some business insurance?
CGU: Is there a reason you’re calling about this?
Me: I’d like to get insurance to cover my equipment.
CGU: But nothing’s happened that makes you want to have to do it suddenly?
Me: No…I just…I called AAMI and they put me through to you.
CGU: What sort of business do you do?
Me: Photography and video
CGU: OK, I’ll put you through to a consultant.
CGU: Hello, how can I help?
Me: I want to insure my photography and video business.
CGU: Do you do any directing with the video?
Me: Yes, but..
CGU: Well I’m afraid we can’t cover you.
Me: But I was put through to you by AAMI because you could cover me. Besides the only direction I do is filming what people do in their day-to-day lives…there’s nothing dangerous.
CGU: Sorry, but we don’t cover that.
Me: This sounds insane…
CGU: I’ll just check with my supervisor.
*Hold music*
CGU: Yep, we can’t cover you. I mean if your client asked you to hang off a cliff or jump out of a plane, then you would have to.
Me: What?! No I wouldn’t.
CGU: Well, you would.
CGU: I can give you the name of an insurance broker who might be able to help.
Me: *sigh*

Honest to God…it was like being a 5 year old and being yelled at by a parent/teacher for doing something your friend told you to do and being asked ‘If Marcus told you to jump off a cliff, would you?!’…except in this case the assumption seems to be that an additional 35 years of life experience has lead me to a place where the assumption is that I would in fact jump off the cliff!

If this were a world where money wasn’t a concern…then the decision to go to 4 days was a masterstroke. But unfortunately, we are not. So the questions become, ‘What is the value of all the non-financial benefits that taking the day off-brings?’, and ‘Is it enough to balance everything out?’ At this stage I would say that it’s a line-ball decision, but probably sustainable…so long as we don’t get offered free accommodation in France and start planning a family jaunt to Europe…I mean, that’d be pretty stupid.

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