Cailen Ascher is a Business + Lifestyle Coach who teaches women entrepreneurs how to make an abundant full-time income working part-time hours.
Best known for her 3-day workweek, Cailen has been featured in Business Insider and Huffington Post and has been interviewed on Entrepreneur on Fire, She Means Business Podcast and Courage + Clarity podcasts.
Her coaching and teachings have helped 1000s of women upgrade their lives and businesses and embrace the idea that full-time income income and part-time hours is not just a dream, but can be their reality.
What is a 3-day work week?
Have you heard of the 3-day work week yet? If not, you’re going to want in on this!
The 3-day work week is a process of effective time management skills and productivity tips that essentially reduce your weekly work load without sacrificing the results that move your business forward.
Cailen Ascher developed this process out of necessity after her first daughter was born four years ago. It was a personal choice and an experiment. Cailen felt, ‘I've got this new baby, I don't want to go back to working full time hours.’
What felt right for her intuitively would be to work three days and then have four days, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday off to spend with her daughter and family - a four day weekend, a three day work week.
Thus the 3-day workweek was born.
Cailen shares how to create this 3-day schedule for your own business and life to increase your productivity without working longer and harder.
How to be more productive without working all the time
At first, this 3-day work week was a bit of a gamble for Cailen. She wasn’t sure what this was going to do to her business or how to make it work long term.
Despite her reservations, she stepped into it, set up her schedule, and started implementing the time management techniques and productivity strategies that she shares below.
Her business was not only maintained, but actually grew and expanded to new levels she had not previously reached when working full time.
How can I improve my time management and productivity skills?
Do a Time Inventory
First and foremost, this process is about you finding the working hours that makes sense for you -- your life, your family, your business.
Cailen reminds us, “It's not about adopting exactly what I've done, cutting your your work week back just to three days, but moving in the direction of what truly serves you personally and professionally.”
Under that umbrella, think of the most powerful things you can do to move in the direction of making highest and best use of your time and protecting your time. The first step in doing this is to do a time inventory.
To do this, get a pen and notepad ready and set a timer for about every 60 minutes or so. Pause and take a second to jot down the task or the multiple tasks that you were doing during that time.
Repeat this process for a couple days. Doing so can give you rich insight into how much time you’re wasting on things that aren’t really important, that you don’t enjoy or that you aren’t particularly good at. It can also reveal how much you’re ping ponging back and forth between tasks that could be chunked together more effectively.
Once you sit with that, and do this for a few of your work days, you start to see where changes can be made.
Dig even deeper and rank your tasks. Ask, does this make me money and do I enjoy it? Am I good at this? Adding in some of those questions can be extremely helpful as you re-prioritize your time and set more boundaries.
Learn to Outsource Your Tasks
The next step is to outsource your tasks if possible. If you're in a position where you’re able to get support from a virtual assistant, this is a great time to circle all those items that you would love to outsource.
Give the things that you're not good at or don’t enjoy to someone else. These are tasks that have to be done but they're not really moving the needle on your business in a big way. Hand them off to someone else if you can.
What do you do when outsourcing tasks isn’t a possibility? Cailen recommends you set aside conscious delineated chosen time for those items.
For example, Monday afternoons you're going to tackle all the admin stuff. You're choosing the time you're putting into it, instead of it taking over your time and distracting you from the bigger things that are really growing your business.
Understand the Difference Between Real Time and Ideal Time
Cailen acknowledges that we can usually be pretty off-base when estimating how long tasks will take us to complete. In your mind, you’re sure writing that blog post will take you only two hours to finish.
Sometimes this works! But unfortunately not all the time. Before we know it those hours creep up to four or five or six hours.
It’s important to remember that your first go around as you're setting up your ideal schedule with your batch categories and your model calendar, cannot be adhered to 100% all the time.
Maybe you're noticing for a couple weeks in a row you’re significantly going over this defined time limit. This is a concept Cailen teaches called “real time versus ideal time.”
Ideally, you would love if that blog post could be written in two hours real time, but it actually takes five. What you do here is give yourself that five to six hour window. This way, you're not feeling like you're behind or that you're failing or doing something wrong because you're honoring the real time that it takes.
Later in the week, revisit your scheduled two hour window. If inspiration strikes, and you get that blog completed in an hour or three hours, then the rest of that time then becomes found time. Dedicate this time surplus to a new project or a new task, so you're a little ahead of the game.
Learn How to Prioritize Your Time
When it comes to figuring out the highest and best use of your time, Cailen cautions that you really have to be strict with yourself. Ask yourself, what is my main priority here? It may be two or three things but no more than that!
You need to identify what your prime focus is that all roads in your business lead to.
When you have a lens like that through which to evaluate the tasks of your day and week, then as projects come up, you can more clearly say no to things that aren't serving you. You can take things off your plate or maybe just put them on the back burner for a bit. Let them sit until next quarter, next month, or even next year.
By doing this, you’ll more readily have “found time” because you're focusing on the most important things and not on all the other noise that you think you need to be doing.
Focus on Why You Do What You Do
Give yourself permission to vision and dream about what your ideal business looks and feel like. Think about why you started your business.
Most people start businesses because they want freedom, they want to dictate their own schedule, they want to travel more, or spend more time with loved ones.
There’s usually a huge lifestyle piece to it. Even if you love your work, and you feel like you could work 24-7, there’s still an element of it were you envision what your ideal life would look like.
Yet, so many of us as we start moving into our work begin subscribing to the mentality of, as Cailen tells us, “I've got to work more, I've got a hustle. That's the only way to success. I've got to give all my hours to this thing. Otherwise, I'll never make money.”
Cailen advises that we give ourselves permission to reevaluate and understand that time is our most precious and valuable asset. As she shares, “My lifestyle is my top priority. My business has to be a part of my life, not my whole life.”
Make Incremental Upgrades
Incremental upgrades are what take you from where you're at to where you want to go one step at a time.
If you're currently working 80 hours a week on your business, this isn't about suddenly cutting back to 20 hours in one fell swoop.
Instead, start with getting your weekends back, or your evenings back or Friday afternoons off, or whatever it is that leads you into that ideal lifestyle that you envisioned for yourself.
Give yourself permission to start small. Take that first step and see how it goes. Ditch the all or nothing mentality!
When you stick with it, before you know it, you’ll be in a radically different place in your life and in your in business, because you kept tweaking it all in a positive direction.
- Evaluate your time with a “time inventory” - Track how you spend your time every 60 minutes for several days. Identify what you do and don’t enjoy doing or aren’t good at. Pinpoint the time wasters and where you could be chunking your time more efficiently.
- Outsource tasks whenever possible - Give unenjoyable tasks or things you’re not good at to a virtual assistant. If this can’t do this, set aside conscious delineated time for these tasks.
- Honor the real time it takes you to do tasks - Instead of feeling guilty or stressing about not getting tasks done within a certain amount of time, allow yourself to take the time you need.
- Prioritize your time by identifying the main focus of your business - Where do all roads lead to in your business? Only focus on the most important things.
- Give yourself permission to start small - Do the little things that are going to start moving the needle in the direction you want to go. Keep tweaking as you go to reach your desired destination.
Cailen reminds us that our journey has to align with our envisioned destination. The caveat to this is that the destination is always shifting and always moving.
If we want to get to this place of feeling successful and abundant and having a beautiful lifestyle, we have to start intentionally with those incremental upgrades, building that in every step along the way, so that it's all lining up.
In this way, one step at a time, we will develop the time management and productivity strategies that take us from overworked and struggling, to the dream lifestyle we desire.
To start creating your own 3-day work week, visit CailenAscher.com to download Cailen’s personal 3-day schedule and a fillable template to start designing your own ideal work week.