The 9-to-5 Issue

30Oct10

I had a conversation with my friend Mark the other day about work hours. He explained that he and his brother have conversations about work, where his brother talks about his standard 9-to-5, which guarantees a certain amount of money each week with a standard routine, while Mark works freelance production which tends to fluctuate wildly with hours.

“Then,” he said, “there’s this silence as we stare at each other and we both think, ‘How do you do it?'”

It made me think that I’ve literally never had a 9-to-5 job. In college, I worked at the student newspaper, which was incredibly erratic hours, followed by my forays into journalism which involved odd hours and occasional late hours and early mornings. And now, production is built on nothing but odd, exhausting 12- to 14-hour days, 6 days a week.

However, the jobs that have been closer to that 9-to-5 regimen have been closer to chores and clock-watching than anything else.

I can’t really tell if it’s a sign of my generation (who generally feel entitled to mold their job into something they want, rather than fill a position) that makes me resistant to the idea of a 9-to-5 job. So much so resistant that I’ve hunted down jobs that probably pay LESS with MORE hours just to avoid the idea of clock-watching.

This isn’t a knock on people who do have a set schedule, punching in at 9 and out at 5, but the idea just seems absolutely foreign to me.

As my friends actually start grabbing on to careers and go into the workforce in the fields they want, it makes me wonder if I’ll ever want to get into a job that doesn’t dominate my time?

I only bring it up because NaNoWriMo starts very soon and my current job is just decimating my schedule. It feels good to dedicate so many hours to this production I’m working on because I know that so many other people are putting in just as many hours.

But leaving the house at 7 to come home at 9 and deal with the day-to-day housekeeping that needs to be done before bed (tidying up, email, dishes, dinner – the unimportant stuff) is such a productivity buzzkill that I’m still hopeful on what’s going to happen with this NaNoWriMo, but maybe more naive than anything else.

If I did track in a 9-to-5, it would allow for more time in personal projects, but would I feel as satisfied? I don’t really think so, because I feel like I’d just be wasting those 8 hours, too.

I think what this boils down to is that someone needs to pay me just to hang around them, have some yuks, then let me go about my business. It’s a fairly simple request, if you ask me.

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One Response to “The 9-to-5 Issue”

  1. 1 Jenn

    I’ve been doing the 9-5 thing for a little over two years now. When I started it was a total relief. After graduation when I moved to FL for no reason, I had to work three jobs just to pay the bills and eat. I was working it seemed, every waking minute, trying to grab naps in the car between substitute teaching, asst managing a retail store and hostessing at one of America’s finest food establishments, TGI Fridays. So, the ability to actually have time in the evening to do stuff like build LEGO or watch my fave shows or sit on my ass and do nothing was such a gift I didn’t even care about the clock watching. You do get a certain amount of monotony with a structured salaried job like this. You come in, sat at your desk, eat at your desk and stare at a computer for 8 hours, then go home. The politics are odd too. Lots of corporate dancing. The most important thing though, is just to be happy. Some people (me) are totally happy doing the 9-5 thing, and some people need more flexibility.

    Also, if you do find that gig where someone pays you to basically be their entertaining friend, let me know. If I do happen to win a few hundred mil in the lottery, I might just ask for your resume.


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