Imagine what we could do if we had full control over every hour of every day. There’s just one thing holding us back from that life: the traditional 9 to 5.
Modern society is all about options. We have access to more opportunities, experiences, and people than ever before thanks to the evolution of technology and travel - and many of us are trying to experience as much of it as possible.
We are a world that aches for more. We’re involved in community activities, book clubs, young professional organizations, corporate boards, charitable committees, and more. We subscribe to Netflix and Hulu so that we can catch up on our favorite shows when we have a spare second, not when the TV networks tell us to. We sign up for meal delivery services and clothing subscription boxes so that we can spend less time shopping in-store, and more time going after our dreams. We’re the generations that invented the all-day breakfast menu.
We’ve found that the best way to maximize our time outside of work is to take it into our own hands, to push back on the conventions that used to dictate our schedules (dinner at 5 p.m., local news at 6 p.m., late night shows at 10 p.m., etc.) and organize our time so that we can fit everything in. We spend our lunch breaks hitting the gym, our mornings working on our side hustles before we head in to work, and our evenings attending networking events to expand our circles
If we’ve been able to do that much with just our free time, imagine what we could do if we had full control over every hour of every day.
There’s just one thing holding us back from that life: the traditional 9 to 5.
We can’t give the idea of the 9 to 5 too much trouble - it’s served us well since the Industrial Revolution.
The 8-hour work day movement originated in Britain as a way of preventing abuse of employees. Then, a typical workday could range from 10 to 16 hours over the course of a six-day work week, pushing employees (some who were only children) to exhaustion and injury.
In 1915, Uruguay became the first country to formally adopt the 8-hour workday as law, and the rest is history. People and companies around the world have been sticking to this eight-hour schedule for quite some time, and have been successful in doing so.
But things are different now.
Working between the hours of 9 to 5 made sense when companies were more local and less connected by technology. But today’s business has gone global and digital. Organizations of all sizes work with clients around the world, and many have offices that span time zones. In these cases, it doesn’t make sense to constrict employees to a 9 to 5 schedule anymore just for consistency’s sake. If clients and colleagues aren’t working on the exact same schedule, then why would you have to adhere to a strict eight-hour block of work time?
What if you could work when you were most productive, be that in the morning or in the evening? What if, by taking control of your work hours in the same way that you’ve taken control of your free time, you could actually achieve more?
What if you could escape the 9 to 5?
Breaking out of a traditional working style isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it. Once you’ve been given the green light by your boss to work flexibly, or you start your own business and give yourself the green light, the entire world can open up. You can start planning your days with an eye for maximization, allowing yourself to determine, perhaps for the first time, what your dream life looks like - and then actually living it.
Imagine what it would be like to squeeze that long-needed dentist appointment in during a weekday because you have the freedom to work at any hour. Think of what it would mean to you to finally attend that yoga class you’ve been wanting to go to, but couldn’t because it was only offered in the middle of your workday. Picture yourself hitting the pillow at the end of every night and saying, “Today was a day well-lived.”
Those are just a few of the ways that a flexible lifestyle will help you achieve more every day. Here are a few others:
Have you ever shown up to the office at 9 a.m. on the dot, knowing that you wouldn’t be in a productive mindset until at least 11 a.m.? Or, have you arrived on time with the mindset that you’d already wasted your most productive hours that morning, eating breakfast and drinking coffee until it was finally time to leave for the office?
Every professional works best at a certain time, and it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all schedule like a 9 to 5 doesn’t actually work for everyone. Sure, there will be some overlap between every employee’s most productive time and the traditional workday, but wouldn’t it be better for the business if everyone was able to focus on their deliverables when they were the most focused?
As an employee, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re meeting deadlines and hitting your goals, but the ability to live a flexible lifestyle will actually help you achieve those to-do’s in less time. By planning your day so that you can work when you’re most productive, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to do your job more efficiently and effectively, leaving time in your day for the other areas of your life that you’re passionate about.
Flexibility doesn’t just mean that you’ll achieve more professionally, it also means that you’ll be able to achieve more of your personal goals, making you a well-rounded, deeply satisfied individual. For some, this could mean focusing on health and wellness. Once you escape the 9 to 5 grind, you may have time to meditate in the morning, attend a midday kickboxing class, or prepare healthy meals for dinner on a consistent basis.
For others, a side hustle is the driving force behind flexibility. If you give your primary position your best hours of the day, that still opens up a ton of time for you dedicate toward your side hustle. As an example, a UX designer could spend the early morning working on client projects, then spend her early evenings creating products for her Etsy shop.
Instead of placing an eight-hour period of work-time in the middle of the day (not leaving yourself ample time to really focus on anything outside of your professional sphere), a flexible lifestyle can be more fluid and adapt to the day’s needs.
Finally, a flexible lifestyle allows you to say “yes” to opportunities in the moment. So much of what makes a 9 to 5 schedule so stifling is that you’re confined to one task for a significant amount of time. You’re not able to set up a coffee date with a mentor when their schedule has a sudden opening. Opportunities like long-term travel aren’t available to you as a 9 to 5 employee.
Getting out of that strict way of thinking allows you to expand the possibilities for what your life could look like. There are people who are working remotely while traveling the world right now, fitting in experiences that will generate lifelong memories between client calls.
They made that life possible for themselves, and it’s possible for you too.
You are living in a time when it is possible to decide when and where you want to do things. Flexible lifestyles exist to help you achieve more - on your own time. It’s time to escape the 9 to 5 and live the way you were always meant to. Are you ready?