The 9-to-5 Death

The 9-to-5 Death

A slow and painful death is the absolute worst kind of death, and what could possibly be more slow and painful than toiling away in a cubicle for 8+ hours per day, 40+ hours per week, 48-50 weeks out of the year, for 40+ years of your life? I can’t think of anything.

Ironically, at the time it was instituted, the 9-to-5 workday and the 40-hour workweek actually represented a dramatic improvement over previous conditions. Go figure! But that was then, and this is now. Times change, and the world needs to keep pace.

There is nothing inherently wrong with working from 9-to-5, and there is nothing inherently wrong with a 40-hour workweek. The problem, as with all traditions, lies in blind adherence to said tradition.

Traditions limit your mental framework, often trapping you into a myopic point of view that defensively excludes all alternate possibilities. THIS IS THE WAY THINGS ARE SO STOP ROCKING THE DAMN BOAT BLARGHHH!!!

The problem is that, as with virtually all rules, there are exceptions. Not everyone is magically productive from 9-to-5. Some people do their best work early in the morning. Others shine brightly late at night.

Some people, no matter how hard they try, can’t be productive in an office environment, while others can’t be productive anywhere else. Some people are distracted, others are energized.

Different people are different, and attempting to cram them all into one box out of tradition or convenience, at the expense of happiness and productivity, is utterly asinine.

Give people a choice! Like most things in life, this isn’t a zero sum game. You can have a 9-to-5 option, and a remote working policy, and no fixed work hours, and unlimited vacation, and probably quite a few other options all available simultaneously…and you know what? It can work just fine. You just have to treat your employees like adults, instead of unruly children.

Companies, for the most part, aren’t paying you for your time (though many people seem to think they are). If a company is paying you, they’re paying you for the value you provide to the company, and their customers.

I once worked for a company that decided to institute a remote work policy, and I was one of a handful of people who got to test out the policy.

Care to guess what happened?

By eliminating the need to be physically present in the office, it also eliminated the need to work during specific hours of the day. I still needed to be reachable, but I was free to work when and where I wanted.

This liberated me to figure out how to maximize my productivity, which enabled me to significantly increase my output almost immediately. (I found 1-2 hour work chunks were ideal for me, interspersed with long breaks; Google “ultradian rhythm” for more on this.)

At the same time, I was able to cut my actual work time by 75%. The company got more productivity out of me, and I got to work less hours while making four times as much money per hour worked.

Now, if you’re the managerial sort, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “Well, if you can produce more working a fraction of the time, you could produce a ton more for the company by working the full 40-hour week.”

Not only is that absolutely the wrong mentality, but that type of greedy thinking is probably why real wages have been effectively stagnant for 30 years. Traditionally, the profits of increased productivity have just gone into the company coffers, which is bullshit.

When I hire an employee or a contractor, I decide in advance what I expect out of that hire for the amount of money I’m willing to pay. Then, so long as I’m getting at least the value that I expected, I couldn’t care less how much time they spent working. Why would I?

If work is done on-time, and it’s high quality, and everything that needs to get done gets done, then I’ve gotten my money’s worth, and that’s that. I wish more people thought this way.

Alas, the corporate world definitely doesn’t think this way, which brings us to the point of this chapter:

The odds of finding your freedom while you’re someone’s employee are probably about the same as your odds of winning the lottery.

Seriously. If you want to be average, to live an average life, to achieve average goals, then by all means, keep working for other people until it’s time to retire.

Just kidding! You don’t actually think you’re going to get to retire someday, do you? Ruh roh…


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Sam McRoberts

Author of Screw the Zoo. CEO of VUDU Marketing.