Mastering the 4-Day Work Week: How Solopreneur Phil McParlane Uses AI and Automation to Run Multiple Businesses [Leanpreneur 1]

Read on to learn how a solopreneur uses AI and automation to run a job board, side projects, and consultancy.

Mastering the 4-Day Work Week: How Solopreneur Phil McParlane Uses AI and Automation to Run Multiple Businesses [Leanpreneur 1]

Read on to learn how a solopreneur uses AI and automation to run a job board, side projects, and consultancy.

You’ll learn key lessons from Phil’s journey along with how he runs his 6-figure business in less than 30 hours per week by streamlining his communication, maintaining his focus, and using AI as a colleague and helper.

Phil is owner of 4dayweek, a job board specialising in..…you guessed it, 4 day week jobs.

If you're new here, each week we bring you real life stories and step-by-step tutorials of how solopreneurs and lean operators run profitable businesses.

Discover how you can achieve remarkable results in less time, often working less than 30 hours per week.

Let’s get to it!

Contributor: Phil McParlane

Phil is a seasoned software developer and data scientist who swapped his hefty 3 hour daily commute to a corporate job for a lean business back in 2020. A serial builder, his major success and freedom enabler is his job board business.

Click here to watch the Interview and Tutorial (21min)

Launch fast, don't wait

Phil didn’t overthink the job board idea, he built a landing page and dropped it onto HackerNews. After receiving 300 sign-ups in 48 hours he knew he was onto something when compared to his previous product launches. After that, he doubled down and began to build out functionality.

The lesson here is that you should validate demand before you build.

Even though he only had 300 followers when he started, Twitter became a great source of traffic in the early days, as 4-day weeks are universally emotive. Recently, X has dropped off as a traffic source, so he finds LinkedIn to be a better source of traffic. It’s worth following him to learn more, he gets awesome engagement, and check out this viral post.

It was tough in the early days

Phil didn’t earn anything from his website for 6 months, and even then, it was $100 here and there. It wasn’t until he was 18 months in that he had the security to exit his job and go full (part 😅) time on his business.

He always had in the back of his mind that persistence is key.

Meaningful projects aren’t built overnight so, if you have traction and things are improving, have faith that you will get there eventually.

Life operating a lean job board business

His business is flourishing. It’s still just him working 20-30 hours per week on the job board and a handful of side projects. He has a team of six part-time freelancers helping with tasks such as blog writing, sales outreach, social media content, and data management.

He’s super happy with the level of flexibility he has for family life, and the business provides a solid 6-figure income, replacing his corporate salary.

He’s constantly adding new features and launching side projects like this one - SEO Sam - which analyses your website SEO using AI.

Maximising Productivity: Phil's Lean Business Approach and Utilisation of AI

  1. Identify repetitive tasks and where you need a copilot
  2. Streamline access to the tools you use often
  3. Create custom GPTs for repetitive tasks
  4. Minimise distractions by staying on top of communications

Before AI, Phil was doing everything

Starting out, Phil did everything. His site is a custom build that he built personally.

But he was also doing marketing, sales, customer support and all of the back office. This was whilst he was holding down a job. He was in the trenches doing all of the boring stuff alongside the excitement of launching, building and winning customers.

Doing the same thing a few times per week? Give it to an AI and save hours

With the launch of ChatGPT and a flurry of AI tools, Phil started to identify things he was doing multiple times per week that he felt he could hand over to AI. Staying on top of AI launches on X has helped him to have an awareness of what tools were out there.

Phil is fantastic at streamlining his information channels and tool use. You’ll see below that he centralises access to his tools to make them more accessible and less distracting. He does the same with his communication channels.

This undoubtedly drives his productivity and allows him to do more with less time.

Step-by-Step Process

1. Identify repetitive tasks and where you need a copilot

Phil does this on an ad hoc basis, keeping a mental tally of repetitive tasks that he knows AI would be able to support with.

Tip from me: I’ve periodically used a simple Google sheet to document what I do in a week and set a 30min alarm to remind me to document what I’m doing. Then you can use an Eisenhower matrix to bucket what to outsource to a person or robot.

When he identifies a repetitive task, he builds custom GPTs to help or accelerate his process (task switching, access to AI) to support his workflows.

Phil codes with the GitHub Copilot. He writes comments, lets the AI write the code, and then he reviews. He also uses the native ChatGPT interface on what seems like an hourly basis, so he’s built a structure to enable quick access….

2. Streamline access to the tools you use often


Raycast is a desktop based launcher for Mac. It’s similar to Spotlight (CMD+Space) but has enhanced customisation and allows you to extend into automations.

Phil uses the Pro version and keyboard shortcut to instantly access a ChatGPT interface, so he never uses the browser-based version. This gives him instant access to what has become what has essentially become a coworker.

He plugs in apps to Raycast such as his diary, to quickly access meeting links, and his to-do list, Things, so that he can quickly upload any tasks.

All in, Raycast minimises the time he spends on task switching and navigating around his operating system.

Everything is driven by his keyboard, so he rarely uses his mouse. These improvements are incremental but add up to him having more spare time.


Phil uses Things as a personal task manager. He likes its simple interface and doesn’t overthink his task management when using it.

Because he has it linked to Raycast, he can quickly deposit a to-do from anywhere on his computer or phone. He also never opens Things, as the to-do list also exists on the Raycast interface.

This helps him to retain focus on what he is working on, ensures everything gets done and maintains his productivity.

He could expand this by linking tasks into automations, but just builds it out using Zapier when he needs something.


Phil centralises all of his DMs in one place using Texts; WhatsApp, Telegram, X etc. This helps him to insulate from the distraction of being on the platforms and allows easy switching between messaging.

Again, he can keyboard through all of his messages, and it avoids time spent switching between apps.

3. Create custom GPTs for repetitive tasks

For those of you that don’t know already, you can create custom GPTs that combine instructions and extra knowledge to give you more defined outputs.

Once Phil identifies a repetitive but essential task, he builds a GPT to support. Here are a couple of examples (and he’s kindly shared a link to them for you!)

For SOPs

Phil instructs his small freelance team using Loom screen share recordings. He takes the transcript from these recordings, adds it to his GPT, and it outputs a document outlining the task and instructions; a more formal standard operating procedure to be saved and referred back to.

Link to 'Loom Transcription to Task Description' GPT

For reviewing content

When Phil’s blog writer submits content, he has a GPT review the work. It recommends ways to improve it, reviews spelling and grammar and comments on the structure and content. He gives this back to his writer to tweak their content in the right direction.

Link to 'Blog Post Reviewer' GPT

4. Minimise distractions by staying on top of communications

As detailed above, Phil uses Texts to stay on top of comms whilst time-boxing his exposure to messaging.

Think of it as Inbox Zero for messaging.

He gave a shout-out to SuperHuman, which he uses as his email client. With it he achieves Inbox Zero.

Cognitively it gives him more mental breathing room to stay on task and create.



Phil cited Indie Hackers as an inspiration, including one episode in particular where they chatted about the Draconian 5-day work week. He took it as a sign from the gods that he should pursue his idea!

You can follow some of Phil's early journey on Indie Hackers

Nowadays, he mainly stays up to date on trends via X through DMs and his feed. You have to be careful not to slip down rabbit holes though!

Parting Advice

Don’t spend too much time on your first version of anything, just get it out there. Speak to people, speak to customers, and find the problems. Don’t get caught up building too many features, too early.

If you’re technical, get out of the mindset that if you code it they will come.

You need traction with an idea and a solid distribution channel to match.

Finally, keep launching. Phil has had one big win, two small wins and about 20 fails.

Follow Phil's journey

You can expect to find him focused on growing 4dayweek to greater heights over the coming months/years, and working on his new SEO review service.

You can follow Phil on X or LinkedIn and reach out to him any time.This is the MVP version of a series of interviews designed to help and inspire you.

I'm sharing Phil's story and lessons so that you can save time and earn more.

If you know anyone else that would benefit from this please share it on! Send them here to sign up.

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