Life Outside the 9-5

4 min read

It has officially been two months since I quit my day job as a data scientist to work on my online businesses full-time.

One unexpected side effect since quitting is that I frequently forget what day of the week it is. This came to my attention most recently last week when I went hiking at a nature center with my girlfriend. As we were about to start a trail, we ran into one of her close friends.

“Oh, did you take off work today, Zach?” she asked.

At first I was confused. Was it not the weekend?

Then it hit me that it was Friday, not Saturday. And normal adults work on Fridays. So, I explained to her that I had recently quit my day job to work on my websites full-time, which meant I didn’t have a strict schedule anymore.

As we spent the rest of the day hiking, I couldn’t shake the thought of how odd it was that most people don’t own their time. For most adults in the modern world, if they happen to wake up on a Friday morning and have a desire to go hiking in nature with a loved one, they don’t actually have the freedom to do so.

Despite living in such a prosperous era surrounded by advanced technology like supercomputers in our pockets, self-driving cars, intelligent watches, and voice-activated home assistants, most people don’t own the most valuable commodity of all: their own time.

My Favorite Perk of Self-Employment

Working for myself comes with several benefits. My favorite, though, is the fact that I have complete control over my time.

This means that if I want to go on a spontaneous trip and not work at all for a week, I can do that. On the other hand, if I feel like working on a project for 12 hours one day, I can do that too. My schedule is 100% flexible.

I experienced this benefit in full force during the month of August.

From August 10th to the 18th, I went on a long road trip through Kentucky, Tennessee, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, and Georgia with my twin sister.

Sunset along the beach in South Carolina

Then, from Aug. 26th to Aug. 28th I went on a spontaneous road trip to Cleveland with my girlfriend.

A huge Cleveland sign at Edgewater Park Beach
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH

Both of these trips were a blast and I spent a total of zero hours working during each trip.

Fortunately, because most of the traffic to my websites comes from search engines, both my traffic and income didn’t dip much at all while I was traveling.

Related: Simple SEO for Bloggers: A course that teaches you how to drive traffic to your site with SEO

If I still had a day job I probably could have taken time off of work to go on these trips, but I would’ve sapped most of my annual vacation time by doing so. 

I still have FinCon 2019 next week and a couple weekend road trips planned with my girlfriend over the coming months. And because I work for myself and not for an employer, I have complete freedom to take these trips without needing to ask another human if I’m allowed to take time off.

To me, this freedom over my time is the greatest perk of self-employment.

Work, Rest, Work

I’ve written before that I think a 9-5 schedule is completely ridiculous and sub-optimal for the type of knowledge work that most modern officer workers do today. Instead, I’ve found that the following schedule works best for me on a daily basis:

I think the reason this daily schedule works so well for me is because it allows me to embrace a work-rest-work lifestyle. I don’t get burnt out from working in one eight-hour chunk like I used to in Corporate America and I’m far more productive during the times when I actually am working.

On a larger scale, I think this work-rest-work schedule works nicely on a monthly basis as well. Instead of working for three to four months straight without taking extended time off, like I used to do in Corporate America, I now have the flexibility to take off a few days completely whenever I want.

In the two months since I quit my day job, I’ve taken time off from working on my sites sporadically. Occasionally I’ve taken small weekend trips and other times I’ve taken entire weeks off.

This flexible work-rest-work schedule has made my life feel like one big enjoyable ride over the past two months. I’m rarely stressed out, I never have to worry about asking for time off, and I’m able to still be highly productive despite having a work schedule that doesn’t remotely resemble a traditional 9-5.

Flexibility Without Financial Independence

I’m not financially independent by the traditional definition of having 25 times my expenses saved up. In a typical year I spend around $25k, which means I would need around $625k saved up to achieve F.I. At the moment, I only have around $150k sprinkled across various financial accounts.

Yet, despite not being financially independent, I have complete freedom over my time. I get to decide exactly how I want each day, week, and month to look.

If I want to go hiking on a Friday morning, I can do that.

If I want to take a massive road trip along the east coast for a week with my sister, I can do that.

If I want to take a spontaneous three-day trip to Cleveland with my girlfriend, I can do that.

I don’t have to ask anyone for permission to do anything. And although I’m not financially independent, I’m fortunate to have realized that I don’t need to be in order to live my ideal lifestyle.

Life outside the 9-5 is wonderful.

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