If you have full autonomy over your schedule, sometimes it can be easy to forget just how lucky you are. Everyday people leave their structured 9-5, punch-in-punch-out jobs to pursue their passion in hopes of their careers becoming a fulfilling part of their lives. No longer do you have to pretend to be busy, you can simply be efficient. If it only takes you 4 hours to complete your work for the day, no one is there to judge you for leaving work early. No longer do you have to feel guilty or anxious about leaving in the middle of the day for a dentist appointment. If you need a whole day to focus on one task, no one is there to say you can’t.
It is important to understand that everyone is different, including their work schedules and optimal times of performance. One of the main reasons why people dread the 9-5 is because they cannot be productive working in one environment for 8 hours straight. For many people, their productivity peaks between 5 am and 8 am – meaning they often can accomplish a day’s worth of quality work before the rest of the world even wakes up. Other people are night owls and are able to get twice the amount of work done after they’ve enjoyed the day and are unwinding before bed.
What is ironic, however, is that even though so many people fight to break free from the 9-5, and know how and when they personally work best, time and time again they end up falling back into the same routine. Just take a look around your coworking space. Do you ever notice how people typically filter in around 9 am and leave around 5 pm?
There are many valid reasons for someone following this type of schedule, such as:
- Your clients are on a 9-5 schedule
- Your friends and family are only available outside of the hours of 9-5
- The activities you take part in occur outside of 9-5
- You are most productive working between 9-5
- You like routine and 9-5 is comfortable
Whatever the reason may be, I would like to challenge you to maximize the opportunity that a flexible work schedule provides.
Worst case scenario, you go through this exercise and come to the conclusion that you are already doing everything to maximize your time, and are on the right track to achieving both your professional and personal goals.
Before you start, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you maximizing your time?
- When are you most productive?
- What are your personal and professional goals?
- Have you fallen into the status quo, 9-5 routine, out of convenience or laziness?
- Are you taking advantage of the fact that you have full autonomy over your schedule and lifestyle?
- If you could schedule your perfect day, what would it look like?
I understand that the digital nomad poster life of poolside laptops and drinking from coconuts does not work for everyone, but it doesn’t mean your only other option is to sit in a room full of people on their computers from 9-5 either.
Would you like to take a guitar lesson or a yoga class in the middle of the day?
Have you been wanting to go on a ski trip or enjoy the beach but haven’t had the time to get away?
Have you been meaning to learn another language by living in the country where they speak the language?
What you will soon come to realize, if you haven’t already, is that it is not your work that ever was in the way of completing your goals. It was the structure of having to be in one office space from 9-5, 5 days a week. With coworking spaces all over the world, it has never been easier to accomplish everything you could ever want, without sacrificing your career.
So here we go — Below is a simple 3 step guide that will lead you through this challenge:
Step 1: Set at least one S.M.A.R.T goal in each of the categories below.
S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based.
- Travel, Leisure & Lifestyle
- Skills / Hobbies
- Health/Wellness, and
- Social Responsibility
There are countless studies out there that prove that those who write their goals down are more likely to accomplish them. So write down your goals, outline a realistic game plan, set a timeline and go! I have personally seen success with this strategy, with specific examples including paying off student debt, buying a condo, surfing in Bali, and running a half marathon.
Step 2: Think about how you can maximize efficiency of achieving these goals
Even better, find correlations between them.
Do you want to learn Spanish and how to surf? Find a coworking space on a beach in Mexico or Nicaragua.
You have a goal of working out for one hour at least 3 times a week, but always seem to run out of time at the end of the day?
Do you also have a goal of waking up at 6 am from Monday to Friday?
It is almost too simple. By waking up at 6 am to workout you will have something to wake up for. Even better, you will get your workout done at the beginning of your day, meaning you won’t run out of time at the end of the day.
The point is, because you have the luxury of choosing your own working hours you then have the freedom to do what makes you feel both accomplished and productive at any point of the day.
If you are someone who thrives professionally between the hours of 9-5, you may find that a change of scenery could make working 8 hours straight more enjoyable. With thousands of coworking spaces around the world, there is no reason why you can’t tackle your professional to do list while working on the side of a ski hill or from the beach. Coworking spaces have facilitated a lifestyle where you can truly work from anywhere, anytime, and in almost any way.
Step 3: Schedule your days, months and years based on those goals.
Sure you may be sending out emails at 10 o’clock at night, but that will be because you want to, and could also mean that you enjoyed a beautiful day outside.
In order to achieve the best results, it is recommended that you schedule your days based on these goals. It is also helpful to physically write them into your calendar in order to keep yourself on track. Schedule in that 6 am meditation or that 4 pm kickboxing class.
Most importantly, do not cancel! Treat these goal dedicated time blocks as meetings or appointments with someone else. What is even worse than being flaky towards a friend or coworker, is being flaky towards yourself.
I can assure you that after taking the three steps above you will feel more in control, more fulfilled, more productive and most importantly, more excited about life!
How will you challenge the 9-5 routine?