Why I Don't Work 9-5 & Why It's A Good Thing
Did you know the standard working hours of 9-5 date back to the eighteenth century? They’re the hours that the vast majority of the country work but more than ever companies are introducing more flexible working hours and giving their employees the option to work from home, which is brilliant. And ever since I’ve worked from home I’ve tried so many different ways of working but something that I’ve always worried about is that if I’m not working 9-5 then am I working hard enough? And the answer is obviously yes and here is why I’m finally comfortable in not working a strict 8 hours and why I don’t think there should be so much guilt surrounding it.
productivity isn’t measured in hours
Whether you work from home or you work in a traditional work environment you will probably be aware that how productive you are doesn’t equate to how long you’re sat at your desk staring at your computer. Working in shorter bursts of time with regular breaks is something that I’ve finally got into the swing of this year and it’s been so much more productive than long slogs at my desk where I do nothing but faff around on my phone. I can get much more done in short bursts focused on different tasks than hours spent on one thing. And because I work in shorter time frames something I am very conscious of is making that time as productive as possible and for me, that is working with minimal distractions. So I always make sure I do the following;
Close my mail app on my computer so I don’t have the distraction of things popping up.
Putting my phone on the other side of the room.
Allowing myself to listen to something that keeps me company but doesn’t pull my focus.
Have one tab open at a time.
we all have different routines
The joy of being self-employed is that in general, you can create your own routine and it’s something that I’ve found is ever changing. For example when I lived at home with my dad my life was completely different so therefore that had an effect on my work routine. Whereas now I live with my boyfriend and have two dogs that meant my routine had to change, and that is something that I found really difficult, to begin with. I was so worried that not having that really strong and structured routine that I’d spent years creating meant that I was failing and wasn’t a success. My day to day routine changes constantly and even though there are some things I like to keep constant like what time I get up and what time I walk the dogs. For the most part, every single day is different which is a really good thing rather than something to shy away from. Now it’s winter I do have to be careful with the daylight as if I have a project to shoot then that has to take priority whilst the light is good whereas in the summer I can be a little more flexible with my shoot time. I feel like it’s something that everyone goes through at some point whether they’re making the transition from office to home or their personal life is going through some changes too. So often those who are self-employed feel so much outside pressure to either be working every hour in the day or working a strict 9-5 and it doesn’t work for so many of us and really why should we need to work those hours when we're the ones we have to answer to?
working to your strengths
When you work completely alone you take on many roles and one them has to analyse how well you work and when. It’s not something that I did for a long time, but in the last few years as I’ve been constantly trying to make sure I’m working productivity as possible without racking up the hours if I don’t need to I've really looked into how well I work and at what time. A couple of years ago I worked best first thing in the morning and that was when I preferred to work but with the arrival of two little sighthounds into my life, I slowly said goodbye to the mornings at my desk. And now I generally don’t tend to do that much work in the mornings apart from first thing where I tend to answer comments and e-mails and possibly proofread anything that I’ve written the day before but the rest of my work day is saved till after I’ve walked Josie & Edie. Now I find myself working best after lunch time where I can really hunker down and focus but saying that I don’t start work until much later in the day makes me feel horribly lazy but it’s just what works for me right now. I still get everything I need to done and for the first time in A/W, I’m actually preferring to work later, after all when it’s cold and miserable outside there’s not much else to be doing.
Taking the guilt out of not working the same hours as others
If you don’t work traditional work hours then there is often a lot of guilt surrounding it. There are so many preconceived notions that if you’re not sat in an office with other people then how can you possibly be working as hard? It’s very difficult to get out of the mindset of proving that you’re working hard to everybody else and how many of us have ended up burning ourselves out in order to prove something that really shouldn’t matter to anybody else? I see the conversation about working hours often going around on Instagram and it’s always such an interesting one as there are so many different career paths now. As well as working predominately in the afternoon I also don’t work Monday-Friday every week. Sometimes I will, but often I’ll have my day off during the week and work at the weekend as I tend to prefer to take my off days during the week where the world is a little quieter. There is absolutely no need to compare our work routines to anybody else, especially when we don’t even work the same job as them.
working smarter not harder
A topic that I’ve written countless posts on is the concept of working smarter, not harder. It’s something I very much believe in and something that has been written about a lot as there have been so many studies put in about working shorter hours and work weeks and the same amount of work getting done. And here is everything I’ve learned about working smarter, not harder;
One task at a time, multi-tasking isn’t always the way to go.
Get rid of any distractions.
Keep your to-do lists short and concise.
Don’t get sucked into the black hole that is your inbox.
Allow wiggle room in your tasks.