Coffee Break: Working 9 to 5

I’ve been freelancing full time for about two years now and, since leaving book publishing, my lifestyle has changed quite a bit:

I’ve felt healthier, probably because I no longer construct entire meals out of vending machine snacks, and because I take the time to work out several times a week. (Not only that, but I’m avoiding the petri dish that is the corporate office.) 

I’ve felt more relaxed, eschewing bras and form-fitting pants, taking lunch breaks in front of the TV with my cats curled up at my side, and sometimes even squeezing in an early morning walk around the neighborhood.

My problems with chronic depression and anxiety have lessened, because I’m no longer working at a job I had grown to hate, and because I cut from my life a pesky one-hour commute that, by the end of my time in NY, was causing me to have frequent panic attacks.

And, of course, I’ve felt far more fulfilled by my work.

But some habits die hard, among them my long-held, misguided commitment to a 9-5 work day.

A few months ago, however, I stopped setting the alarm to 7:30 a.m., having found that I continued to wake up on time without it. Living without that alarm was such a pleasure.

Then, as my work load grew, I found myself sleeping a little bit later on some days.

At first I was concerned. But then I realized: It’s not a big deal. As freelancers, we can make our own hours, manipulating our to-dos to fit into the hours when we’re most productive.

How about you? Do you generally stick to “normal” business hours, or do you find that you work best under an entirely different arrangement? Those of you who buck the trend: How do you continue to make yourselves as available as possible to clients? 9-to-5ers: Are those standard hours the only thing keeping you in line? Please share!


  1. Steph – totally agree. I set my own hours and love it. If I want to take a day off to hang with friends, I can without seeing if I have vacation time available. When I go to the jeweler’s and decide I want a Pandora bracelet and charms that cost over $700, I just look for more work. I LOVE IT!!!

  2. @Nicki: Hallelujah for the freelance lifestyle! Of course, it can be rough to build up enough regular income at first so that you can take advantage of the flexibility, but once you’ve gained that momentum, I can’t think of a better way to live. 🙂

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