8 Alternatives to the 9 to 5 Schedule that Cater to the Solopreneur

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 02/23/16 •  9 min read

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.

The Bookender

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.



The Frontloader

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.



The Nightowl

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.



The Parent

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.



The Socialite

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.



The Bender

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.



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.



Book: The Miracle Morning

Other Resource: 31 Things You Can Add to Your Morning Routine to Increase Productivity

The Traditionalist

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.



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.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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14 comments on "8 Alternatives to the 9 to 5 Schedule that Cater to the Solopreneur"

  1. I’ve never thought about it in these kinds of terms before – very nice! I’m currently a “boring” 9-5er most days, but I pretty much work around my girlfriend’s schedule so that when she is home, I am free. That’s one of the reasons I love being an entrepreneur so much!

    1. Sean says:

      Thats the one reason why sometimes I do work more of a 9 to 5 schedule – so that I can be free when she is free.

      That said, working as much as possible early in the morning and then taking afternoons/evenings off does tend to work out pretty well also 🙂

  2. Doret says:

    Very helpful! Thank you, Sean!

  3. Alp says:

    Sean – are you reading my mind?

    I literally *just* got off a coaching call with the insight that I need to find a new working rhythm as an entrepreneur. Five minutes later, your blog post dropped into my inbox.

    Thank you!

    Two things I really like about this post:

    Thing #1. The memorable names
    Thing #2. The structured approach. I love that you broke it down into eight alternatives.

    Now I can just go off and experiment –

    See you on the other side!

  4. Kashif says:

    Oh, I have been through most of these routines but haven’t found a right zone for me yet. Although I feel that either early morning or late night can work better because I feel drained out during the noon (may be because noons are hot and humid here).

  5. Melisa says:

    Great post! This is a wonderful reminder that we can think outside the box as solo-preneurs. I can’t wait to even have the option of working 9 to 5 . . . let along having a morning ritual.

  6. S. says:

    Nice post! I think it’s good to reflect on what works and what doesn’t.

    According to this, I have the Socialite schedule. 🙂 I enjoy working, then going out to dinner or dancing tango until the early hours of the morning and still getting a full night’s sleep.

  7. Martin says:

    I work best late at night from like 11-3am. Then I get work done at 10-noon. Then it’s grappling or weights. Not ideal, but I work best at these hours for some reason.

  8. Halona Black says:

    I’m a definite bookender! When I had a day job, I used to loathe spending the best part of the day inside when the sun was at its brightest. Worse yet, I didn’t even have a window — just a cubicle sitting underneath the ice cold air conditioning in the dead of winter. Now as an entrepreneur I get to live in Florida and enjoy the sunshine while take a couple hours off in the afternoon to go grocery shopping, have a nice lunch, or read in the park. Life is good!

  9. David Taylor says:

    Great post Sean! There are many articles and posts out there on productivity hacks and how to design a productive day but this one is definitely one of the best I have seen yet. You’ve broken out potential options, pros, and cons in a very insightful and useful way where a person can apply them to life and start to put them into practice!

  10. Chas says:

    I am definitely most productive as a night owl. I am not into Monster energy drinks or Techno music, however. I am a creative type, though.

  11. Scott says:

    There must be some odd schedules among readers of this blog! Wanted to add one to the list, the “work in another time zone person,” so maybe they are in east Asia and working 7 PM – 3 AM local time which corresponds to business hours in the US, or similar. It’s been sleeping afternoons and working late night lately for this correspondent.

  12. Scott says:

    There must be some odd schedules among readers of this blog! Wanted to add one to the list, the “work in another time zone person,” so maybe they are in east Asia and working 7 PM – 3 AM local time which corresponds to business hours in the US, or similar. It’s been sleeping afternoons and working late night lately for this correspondent.

  13. Dave Nicosia says:

    I’m definitely a front loader or a night owl. I find I can’t stick to one work schedule type for too long or it starts feeling more like a job! That being said, work-a-holic is probably a more accurate description of my working habbits lol

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