Over the years my preferred work hours have continuously evolved. I’ve gone from the traditional 9 to 5 (or in my case 7:30 to 5), to being a night owl, morning person, and just about everything in between.
I’ve found each of these different work hours to have it’s pros and cons, and each has served me well for different purposes.
For instance, while living in Bangkok and working on my first product, Overcoming the Fear of Uncertainty, I’d often start writing around 9:00 at night with a gin and tonic in hand, and finish in the early hours of the morning.
These days my preferred workday shifts depending on what I’m working on and where I am, but most often it involves being up before sunrise.
The goal of this post is to help you start thinking outside the traditional 9 to 5. If you’re new to entrepreneurship, or considering starting your own business, you’ll learn that it can be tough to break out of that 9 to 5 mindset.
In this post you’ll find 8 different working schedules that you can choose from that will help you maximize your productivity, while also being flexible around the lifestyle you wish to have any the activities you enjoy most.
Sample hours: 6:30am-12:30 and 7:00-8:30pm
Right now this is my preferred method of working. I like to wake up early and get the vast majority of my work done as early as possible. I find mornings are my most productive times, and once early afternoon hits most of my creative energy is tapped.
So with the Bookender I do 80% of my work in the morning, then I take the afternoons off to do something fun, and then do another hour or two of work in the evening once I get back.
During my time off in the afternoons I’ll usually either take meetings, or do something physical like go for a run, play golf, or hit the gym.
This schedule also works well (and can be essential) for people working with others in different time zones.
- Get away from the office during the time where most people hit a slump
- Make time for hobbies a traditional workday makes difficult
- Other employees or associates will still be in the office in the afternoon.
- Can break up workflow in a negative way if you’re in the zone.
Sample Hours: 5am-1pm
Like to get all of your work done as early as possible, so you can spend the rest of the day stress and work free?
The Frontloader is the schedule you’re looking for.
Having a couple distraction free hours early in the day can be fantastic for creative people who struggle to find time during typical working hours to get stuff done.
- Work early when there are fewer distraction
- Finish your day early and leave plenty of time for personal activities
- Going to bed early in order to wake up on time can put a cramp in social life
- You could end up working all day if you’re not good at pulling yourself away. Those long hours can take it’s toll after awhile.
Sample Hours: 7pm-3am
Do you love darkness, Monster energy drinks, and techno music? Then there’s a good chance you’re a night owl.
Most of the people I know who rock this schedule are coders or developers who are used to pulling all nighters?
But perhaps you’re simply a writer or creative who likes being on when everyone is asleep. Whatever the reason, the nightowl works opposite hours than most, and what might seem like a nightmare for some, is a dream for others.
- A full distraction free “work day” while everyone else is asleep
- Gives you more free time during the day, as opposed to free time at night
- Difficult to work with other clients or team members on a more regular schedule
- Support for products or services you use most likely closed
Sample Hours: 5-7 am, 11-1 pm, 3-4pm, 8-11pm
Do you have kids and have to get work done around their schedule? There are a lot of perks to working from home, and for many people spending more time with your kids and not having to pay for day care is one of them.
However, if you’re going to work on this schedule be prepared to be flexible and build a routine of being able to get back to work as quickly as possible – as your windows of quiet time will be few and far between.
So you know what that means? No more perusing Facebook for half an hour before getting your work done.
- Save on day care costs
- Spend more time with your family and kids
- Need to be able to start and stop work immediately.
- Long periods of flow very difficult to make happen.
Sample Hours: Noon-8pm
Do you enjoy a good night out and love to sleep in as late as you want? Are you hitting your stride right around the time the average person is reaching their “afternoon slump”?
Then perhaps the “Socialite’s” hours are exactly what you need.
Get your work done in the middle of the day and early evening, and finish up just in time to go hit another crazy party.
Or at least a nice dinner and drinks with your friends.
- Allows you to sleep in as late as you want
- Conducive to people who’s typical night out starts late.
- If you’re not used to it, sleeping in that late can make you feel horrible.
- While other people are done for the day, you’re still going at it and might not get the quick responses you need.
Sample Hours: 3 months of 14 hour days followed by a month or two of zero hour days.
This is less of a daily schedule, and more of an annual schedule.
12 weeks on, 8 weeks off.
I’ve seen an increasing number of entrepreneurial friends work in 3 months sprints. They’ll work their ass off on a project pulling in really long days for 3 months straight, then once that project has been launched or finish, they’ll take a month or two off for travel, wellness, or just enjoying life.
- Having time completely “off” is a luxury very few people can have
- This mentality can allow you to accomplish a ton in a relatively short period of time
- Not everyone has the discipline and focus to work that hard for a such a sustained period of time
- It’s often impossible to fully take time off after said push.
This can work well for people doing information product launches. Specifically if they have a team in place to help manage the new customers once they finish.
This person loves to work in huge 3 month sprints. They’ll work their ass off on a project pulling in really long days for 3 months straight, and once that project is launched or done, they’ll take a month or two off completely to travel or spend time just doing more of the stuff they love.
Book Recommendation: The 12 Week Year
The Morning Ritual
Sample Hours: Morning Routine 8-10, work 10-6
The morning ritual, or morning routine, has become something of a sacred topic for many entrepreneurs I know.
Your morning routine is basically what you do every morning to get you ready for the day. This can include exercise, breakfast, meditation, journaling or any number of other things that help you feel ready for the day.
For many people this can be a series of things that take up to 3 hours (for others it may be 30 minutes or less).
For those that swear by their morning routine, they often wake up at 7 to get started, and then don’t get down to work until 10 o’clock or later.
- Building a series of positive habits every morning can lead to wanting to more positive actions the rest of the day
- Puts your physical and mental wellness first
- Can make scheduling morning meetings more difficult
- If morning is your most productive work time, this can cut into that.
Book: The Miracle Morning
Sample hours: 9 to 5
You know what? There’s a reason that the 9 to 5 workday was invented in the first place…
I don’t necessarily know what that reason was, but I do know that there are times when 9 to 5 is the perfect schedule.
It allows me to get enough sleep and take care of a few personal things in the morning, while also having plenty of time in the evenings to see friends or do other fun things.
There’s nothing wrong with a 9 to 5 if that’s when you find yourself most productive.
- That’s when most other people are working
- You have time in both the morning and evenings for personal activities
- Most people aren’t there most productive during these times
- Makes it difficult to do more significant activities during the week (hike, golf, go see a movie etc)
So don’t go all anti-establishment just because you feel like you’re supposed to. The reality is, once you break free of a typical day job there is no “supposed to”.
You get to do things on your terms based on what works for you.
You could have 7 different schedules 7 days out of the week, and that’s totally cool!
So experiment and try out different things. Maybe you thought you hated working at night, but the reality was you only hated working at night because usually that meant you were just staying at your day job later.
I’ve used every single of one of these schedules in the past. Well, except for the parent, we’re still a ways away from that one
Want to build a business and lifestyle that gives you the freedom to choose which of these schedules fits you best? Check out Location Rebel.