01 May 2016 Thirteen Days a Week

Before starting, this is not anarchy. Far from it. This is about broken promises. This is about the pursuit of happiness. This is about getting what we deserve.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say everyone likes weekends. If you’re one of us regular schlubs, you work five days a week and get two days off. Two days off a week isn’t bad, but if I remember correctly, when I was a kid in the 1960s, everyone was talking about the coming of the four-day workweek - which meant 52 three-day weekends each year! While I wasn’t yet part of the work-a-day world, this had strong appeal: “When I grow up, I’m only going to have to work four-days-a-week!”

After growing up and working for over 40 years, I’ve never seen a real, regular four-day workweek. Yeah, I’m not talking about four ten-hour days - I’m talking about just 32 hours of work at the mortgage-paying job expected each week. Sadly, the dream seems to have been forgotten.

A Better Way of Life

Today, in seven-day weeks (7DWs) we work five days and get two days off for the weekend. In essence we have 52*7 = 364 days each year. (The extra day to get 365 and the occaissional leap day to get 366 is to keep the year from drifting with respect to the Earth’s revolution, and those are what keeps us from having the same date on the same day of the week each year.)

If you break it down, that 52 is really four seasons of 13 weeks - 4*13*7 days in a year. (In case you’ve never noticed, there are 52 playing cards in a standard deck, four suits of 13 cards each. Not a coincidence.) In other words, 4*13*5 = 260 weekdays, and 4*13*2 = 104 weekend-days.

In the promised land, we’d get 4*13*3 = 156 weekend days and have only 4*13*4 = 208 workdays. But sadly that appears to be as far from reality as it was 40 years ago.

So let’s turn it on its side - let’s make that 4*13*7 into 4*7*13. Let’s do 13-day weeks (13DWs) - that is, seven 13DWs per season! That’s 28 13DWs per year!

And since we need to declare some weekend days, let’s take four-day weekends every week! That gives us 4*7*4 = 112 days off and 4*7*9 = 252 days on. Hmmm… No, that’s not enough weekend-days for me. I’ll push it further to five-day weekends - for 4*7*5 = 140 days off and 4*7*8 = 224 days on.

I don’t know about you, but going from 104 weekend-days to 140 would be a good step forward even if we didn’t get all the way up to the four-day week’s 156. I want 28 five-day weekends each year.

Good Problems

What should we call these new days in our thirteen-day week?

We don’t want to lose our seven traditional weekday names and day order - the transition would be much too hard. But we do have a new batch of six days to name… We’ll stick three workdays on the front and three weekend-days on the back. I’m not going to get political and name them after dead leaders - I’m going to continue with the pattern passed down through the ages for the new ones:

Day Type Name of the Day Reasoning Symbol
1 Weekday Scrumday (Soccer) the day of planning sc
2 Weekday Sterrenday (Dutch) the day of the stars st
3 Weekday Jorday (Norse) the day of the Earth jo
4 Weekday Monday the day of the Moon mo
5 Weekday Tuesday the day of Mars tu
6 Weekday Wednesday the day of Mercury we
7 Weekday Thursday the day of Jupiter th
8 Weekday Friday the day of Venus fr
9 Weekend-day Saturday the day of Saturn sa
10 Weekend-day Sunday the day of the Sun su
11 Weekend-day Smilday (Danish) the day of smiles sm
12 Weekend-day Skrattday (Swedish) the day of laughter sk
13 Weekend-day Fineday (Italian) the day of returning fi

In this naming we start the week by planning, add days to honor the stars and the Earth which were left out of the old rekoning, go through our familiar Monday-Sunday, and then end with three more weekend days: a day for smiling, a day for laughing and a day for returning to get ready to start the next week.

What about the days of the year? Won’t it mess them up?

Not a bit! The days of the week are just changing, not the months of the year!

Just consider the calendar for 2016. In the 7DWs noting (weekdays, weekend-days)

                                2016
  
     January (21,10)        February (21,8)         March (23,8)
  Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                  1  2       1  2  3  4  5  6          1  2  3  4  5
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9    7  8  9 10 11 12 13    6  7  8  9 10 11 12
  10 11 12 13 14 15 16   14 15 16 17 18 19 20   13 14 15 16 17 18 19
  17 18 19 20 21 22 23   21 22 23 24 25 26 27   20 21 22 23 24 25 26
  24 25 26 27 28 29 30   28 29                  27 28 29 30 31
  31

      April (21,9)            May (22,9)            June (22,8)
  Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                  1  2    1  2  3  4  5  6  7             1  2  3  4
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9    8  9 10 11 12 13 14    5  6  7  8  9 10 11
  10 11 12 13 14 15 16   15 16 17 18 19 20 21   12 13 14 15 16 17 18
  17 18 19 20 21 22 23   22 23 24 25 26 27 28   19 20 21 22 23 24 25
  24 25 26 27 28 29 30   29 30 31               26 27 28 29 30

      July (21,10)           August (23,8)        September (22,8)
  Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                  1  2       1  2  3  4  5  6                1  2  3
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9    7  8  9 10 11 12 13    4  5  6  7  8  9 10
  10 11 12 13 14 15 16   14 15 16 17 18 19 20   11 12 13 14 15 16 17
  17 18 19 20 21 22 23   21 22 23 24 25 26 27   18 19 20 21 22 23 24
  24 25 26 27 28 29 30   28 29 30 31            25 26 27 28 29 30
  31

     October (21,10)        November (22,8)        December (22,9)
  Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                     1          1  2  3  4  5                1  2  3
   2  3  4  5  6  7  8    6  7  8  9 10 11 12    4  5  6  7  8  9 10
   9 10 11 12 13 14 15   13 14 15 16 17 18 19   11 12 13 14 15 16 17
  16 17 18 19 20 21 22   20 21 22 23 24 25 26   18 19 20 21 22 23 24
  23 24 25 26 27 28 29   27 28 29 30            25 26 27 28 29 30 31
  30 31

while in 13DWs:

                                       2016

            January (17,14)                         February (18,11)
  Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi   Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi
                        1  2  3  4  5  6                                        1
   7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19    2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14
  20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31      15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
                                           28 29

             March (21,10)                           April (17,13)
  Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi   Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi
         1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11                         1  2  3  4  5  6
  12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24    7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
  25 26 27 28 29 30 31                     20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

              May (19,12)                             June (20,10)
  Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi   Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi
                                    1  2             1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15   11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
  16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28   24 25 26 27 28 29 30
  29 30 31

              July (17,14)                           August (20,11)
  Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi   Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi
                        1  2  3  4  5  6                                        1
   7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19    2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14
  20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31      15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
                                           28 29 30 31
                                        
            September (20,10)                        October (16,15)
  Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi   Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi
               1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9                            1  2  3  4  5
  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22    6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
  23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30                  19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

             November (20,10)                        December (20,11)
  Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi   Sc St Jo Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Sm Sk Fi
   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13                1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
  14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26   10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
  27 28 29 30                              23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

No days have slipped through the cracks - all the months have the right number of days. Even leap year is accommodated. But now there are 28 five-day weekends instead of 52 two-day weekends. I say that’s a great trade.

That’s a lot of workdays lost!

But it makes good business sense - let me show you how.

First, every weekend is an interruption. If you’re working on a task and it’s the day before a weekend, after about 3pm things start going south quickly, and well, you might as well start up again on the first workday of the next week. On that first workday it’s going to take a few hours to ramp back up - let’s say two more hours. Since there are 52 7DWs in a year, that comes to over 208 hours of lost time - that’s 26 whole workdays. But when there are 28 13DWs, it’s only lost 112 hours - that’s only 14 workdays. A difference of 12 whole days!

So, if you’re running a business and thinking about a switch from 7DWs to 13DWs, though you may see yourself losing 36 days to longer weekends, you’re really only losing 24 days. You’re getting some lost time back by having fewer weekends.

Next, consider vacation. Normally, starting employees gets ten days of vacation. This gives them a chance to sit back and recharge the batteries either taking a trip or just relaxing at home twice a year, since a two-day weekend just isn’t enough time to really get away. But when there are five-day weekends, things change dramatically. Every week employees come in fresh, straight off an effective mini-vacation, and that happens 28 times per year! New employees would only need half a 13DW week (four days) of vacation instead of the 7DW two weeks (ten days) mainly to travel for mid-week holidays. After a few years of service that could bounce up to a full 13DW week (eight days), then later two 13DW weeks (16 days), and perhaps even three 13DW weeks (24 days) for senior employees.

If we throw in the fewer vacation days with the weekend-interruption savings, for a new employee, that 36-day loss now drops to an effective 18 days.

Finally, let’s look at holidays. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, most businesses will be giving their employees seven paid holidays in 2016, on the 7DW calendar that’s:

  • New Year’s Day (Friday, Jan 1)
  • Memorial Day (three-day weekend - last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (three-day weekend - Monday, July 4)
  • Labor Day (three-day weekend - first Monday in September)
  • Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)
  • Day after Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving becomes a four-day weekend)
  • Christmas Day (Sunday, Dec 25 - Many give Dec 26 for a three-day weekend)

On some accomodation will still be necessary, but on the 13DW calendar the Monday holidays could possibly be moved onto Finedays. Thanksgiving and the day after can stay on Thursday and Friday, with only New Years and Christmas on different weekdays each year. The Fourth of July is a given.

It’s nice to get Monday holidays, but I’d happily exchange standard five-day weekends under 13DWs for the relatively few three-day weekends under 7DWs. If you’re counting, that takes the 36-day loss down to between 14 and 16 days (an average of 15, let’s say.)

Now 15 days is nothing to trifle with to be sure - three 7DW work-weeks. But after five days off, most employees are ready to come back to work. They’re happy to see their friends in the workplace and ready to crank up the productivity for the next eight days - especially since the reward at the end of the workweek is another five days off!

The start-of-the-workweek blahs will be significantly reduced, morale will be up, and everyone will be more satisfied. The 15-day loss of worktime will be more than made up for by happier, more dedicated employees getting more work done! We lose virtually nothing and all gain much more happiness!

What about those that work on the weekends?

Some businesses exist to make money by being open when their customers are off work and have time to buy their goods and services. Employees working for them typically get other days off instead. That probably won’t change…

But they’ll be doing at least as well on 13DW as on 7DW, if not better.

Wait a second! 13-day weeks?! But I’m triskaidecaphobic!

Heh. Right.

Isn’t it really Friday the 13th that bothers you? There are 1.85 times fewer Friday the 13ths on average in the 13DW system.

In 2016, 7DW brings you one in May - the odds of a month having one is 1-in-7. The 13DW calendar drops the odds to 1-in-13, but there’s still one in October. Sometimes, you’re still just going to have a Bad Day.

I’m Sold! How do I get in on this 13DW?

I’m not quite sure yet.

Switching the world over from a 7DWs to a 13DWs is harder than switching the United States from Imperial measurement to the Metric system - and we all know how far that’s gotten.

With respect to 13DWs, even though the months don’t change names and the number of days in a month is the same, 7DW has a world of cultural inertia behind it. And to supplant 7DWs, there has to be buy-in from everyone.

It’s just culture and tradition against this - there are no laws mandating that a week must have no more or less than seven days in it! It’s just how the word week is defined! It’s just common practice! It’s just the way the world has worked for thousands of years!

How can I want such a disruptive change?! Well I say Dash It All!

If 13DWs gives us more time to relax as well as more time to focus, Why not make a change?

If you like the idea, talk to your friends about it. And again. And so on. The dream may become real. The world may eventually decide that the time of universal 5-day weekends has come!

Who knows?

Dave Anderson · @eymiha · Software Barbarian