I’ve been working four days a week for years but forget I’m not full time - Alastair Dalton

You may well be reading this with that Monday morning feeling – but I chose to banish it a decade ago.

That’s when I decided to reduce my working week from five to four days, an idea coming under increasing consideration and which the SNP conference backed at the weekend as a major plank of any pro-independence referendum campaign.

It’s also been proposed by Labour in the past, while the Scottish Greens and trade unions this year called for shorter working hours.

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So what’s been my experience? The first thing to say is that unlike the current proposals, which would involve no loss of pay, my decision came with a 20 per cent pay cut.

Alastair Dalton originally went down to a four day week to look after his young daughter. Picture: John Devlin

However, we decided it was worthwhile in order to give our young daughter a day of one-to-one parental time after my wife had done the same with our elder child while he was toddler, with both kids spending the rest of the week at nursery.

My second observation is that I often forget I’m officially “part time” – only being reminded when forms and surveys ask my employment status.

This is because I, like several other colleagues, have to fit weekly as well as daily duties, such as a column for The Scotsman and stories for Scotland on Sunday, into my four-day schedule.

Email and social media traffic that journalists must keep up with are also no respecter of days off.

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However, working four days on, three off, rather than five/two over the previous 20 years of my career, definitely feels like a better balance, and worth the significant salary sacrifice, even though the extra time off is no longer needed for childcare.

The other thing I’d mention is that extra day always seems to go very fast. I use it to clean the house, wash clothes, buy food and cook the tea.

When the kids were at primary school, the six-hour day always seemed to pass in a flash.

Ten years on, I remain conscious of not working when others are – even though I’m not being paid for the privilege. But it’s still worth it.

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