looking for inspiration to get out of the 9-5 grind
August 5, 2009 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Do you work less than 5 days/week (9am-5pm)? and/or do you work from home? If so, what is your job, and how did you obtain it?

I'm just looking for inspiration to get out of the 9-5 grind. Thanks!
posted by Jason and Laszlo to Work & Money (28 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Yep. My last real job was in administration in a university. I had some time up my sleeves, so when-ever possible, I asked academics for more work, interesting work.

So, now, I do editing/formatting on a journal, simple databases / data analysis for research, presentation designs, layout of educational material. It's pretty cool stuff except for the occasional tedious transcription, but I'm starting to farm that out for less than I get paid for it. I have great clients, who pay on time. I work from home (mostly) but occasionally travel to one of three or four campuses, and work when I feel like it. I've even been listed as author on a couple of papers now.

(I must admit, the work has not been full-time, but working 1/2 as much as I used to, I've received 3/4 the pay, and the time works better because I've been doing a 3/4 time uni degree through distance education at the same time).
posted by b33j at 5:55 AM on August 5, 2009

I'm a freelance web designer. I work from home, and I work way more than 40 hours a week. But being busy when you're self-employed is a generally a good thing.

I have done this for a living for a long time, but I got my original freelance clients two years ago by blogging. No, really.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:03 AM on August 5, 2009

You are going to find that most people have a similar kind of story to b33j and I, we started working somewhere - saw a need that wasn't being met - we took advantage of it in our off time. So yeah just start looking for things where there are ineffiencies in your current job environoment and offer to meet those needs for others (not your current boss.) Good luck.
posted by bigmusic at 6:03 AM on August 5, 2009

I was a remote sales exec in a niche government industry for three years, which meant that I was 50% traveling to clients or company HQ, 50% working from my home office. I was headhunted for that position because of my background. But, that particular arrangement is certainly not unique to government or sales -- I know many IT people who have similar work lives.

After that experience, I realized that I am just not made for 9 am - 5 pm, M-F, sitting in a cubicle. So I started freelance consulting from home (mostly contract copywriting, design, business strategy), and am now doing it full time.

In my experience, the luxury of working from home trades off with the ability to work fewer hours (on preview, echoing DarlingBri). Now, as a freelancer, I have to work 45-50 hours a week to make sure that I am making my numbers, filling the pipeline of clients, and so on.

But 50 hours a week at home with total autonomy beats all hell out of 40 hours a week in an office, plus 5 hours a week in the company cafeteria, plus 5 hours a week of driving/parking, plus 3 hours a week of staff meetings, plus 1 hour a week of swiping badges, plus 3 hours a week of filing my TPS reports, plus 10 hours a week of wondering where my soul went.
posted by pineapple at 6:12 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

I usually work more than 40 hours per week from home, but it's generally on my own terms and during times which make the most sense for me. Sometimes that includes weekends, sometimes it's a classic 9-5 M-F, and sometimes it's very odd hours and days, just depending on whats going on.

I do web things. I started as the Internet-equivalent of a freelance janitor making peanuts and worked my way up.
posted by nitsuj at 6:15 AM on August 5, 2009

I changed from 40+ hour weeks to 20+ hour weeks.

Formerly, in IT; now I'm a teacher (of ESL). Much more satisfying work; much smaller paycheck.

I made the switch by taking classes at night until I earned the certificate, while doing a bit of volunteering (as a sub) for experience; then made a cold call to an adult school located where I wanted to teach, and my very nice supervisor advised me on the necessary steps to get a preliminary credential, and once I had that, she hired me.
posted by Rash at 6:23 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

My mother (now retired) worked as an interior designer, from home. She just met her clients on location, but we did have a room set up as a studio in case she wanted to have them over (that really never ended up happening).
posted by sickinthehead at 6:29 AM on August 5, 2009

I should point out that she did have to go meet people, as I said, but the vast majority of her time was spent at home, coming up with ideas.
posted by sickinthehead at 6:30 AM on August 5, 2009

I average less than 40 hours a week doing my "normal" job of web design & development. I also do game development in my down cycles, but that's currently more of a hobby that happens to bring in some money.

I suggest being careful about getting out of the 9 to 5 in order to work fewer hours. More flexibility? Yes. Better control over your career? Yes. But if your goal is fewer hours, that's a bad plan. Most self-employed people work crazy hours when they first start out and that can last years before they build a large enough pool of clients to cut back their hours.
posted by justkevin at 6:32 AM on August 5, 2009

Yes, yes. But I worked my way in and I don't get paid a ton of money. (I get paid enough to cover my bills, no kids, and I'm really good with money). I'm a research/personal assistant for someone. I set my own hours and I work between 20-40 hours a week, depending on when I'm on a deadline. All and all, beats any job I've had before, even though it's not perfect. Mefi me for more specifics.
posted by Rocket26 at 6:35 AM on August 5, 2009

I work from home as a software developer. My client is composed of a few former colleagues who formed a start-up. They noticed I was looking for work since they were LinkedIn contacts. I put in maybe 10 hours a week. It's not quantity, it's quality. But I'm also pulling in half the pay than when I was full-time in a cube farm, so some sacrifices have had to be made.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:51 AM on August 5, 2009

I work part time, about 20 hours a week, two of them evenings and every other weekend. I'm in a public library so I work the hours the library is open. This works for me due to a high hourly wage and because the reduced hours net me more money overall because I am avoiding child care expenses (my husband is also part-time, on opposite shifts). A combination of education and experience allows me to make twice as much money now than I made eight years ago when I worked sixty hours a week.

I haven't worked full-time in years and I love the freedom to spend so much time with my children. However, I made sure my pension would not be adversely affected by part-time work (my ultimate pension will be based on my last five years of pay and as long as I have worked 30 years either part-time of full-time I get the full pension, same as my husband). I also get the same benefits as full-time employees (not as essential in Canada but free eyeglasses are nice). I can also pretty easily transition back into full-time work without any penalty to my career (i.e. I am not considered a flake for working part-time, easier for women with children).

Are you planning on working less hours but paid about the same or working less hours having more free time but also having less money to actually do stuff? The nice thing about the 9-5 grind is that most of the world is on the same treadmill so scheduling social events is easier when it is assumed you don't work saturdays.
posted by saucysault at 6:57 AM on August 5, 2009

I've been a freelance translator working from home for about 20 years (most of my working life). I work less than 40 hours most weeks, except those weeks that I don't. I would actually prefer to work more than I do, but hustling work has never been my strong suit. One of the downsides of freelancing is that you need to get used to biting your nails during dry spells.

My wife is now working from home also. She's got a regular job (W2, not 1099, if you're in the USA), but with no fixed hours. She's been working way more than 40 hours a week, although at least she has the flexibility to pick which hours, and doesn't commute.
posted by adamrice at 7:21 AM on August 5, 2009

I used to do [phone] tech support and there were a variety of shifts/hours to choose from...for some time I worked four ten-hour days.
posted by Eicats at 7:25 AM on August 5, 2009

I work from home, but it's a full-time job, with set hours, "for" someone rather than freelance/consulting - so my scenario might not actually be what you're looking for. It was serendipitous, really: I had to move across the country for personal reasons, but I really liked my job and coworkers and asked if I could work remotely. I didn't expect them to say yes, but they did, so here I am.

Working from home does have the advantages people expect: zero commute time, no dress code, having a whole kitchen's worth of options on your lunch break, being able to crank Motley Crue at your desk without headphones. These are all awesome.

But the disadvantages have taken me by surprise: my desk here is less comfortable than at work, for example, and I don't have air conditioning. Having my home and my work in the same place has greatly shrunk my range of easy-to-get-to places: gone are the days of being able to meet someone downtown for drinks right after work or picking up something "on the way home." I've got my neighborhood, and that's pretty much it. All my meetings are now held via conference call, and I have to strain to hear what's being said. I miss being able to ask my coworkers a question and showing them what I'm talking about rather than straining to describe it via IM. I miss the casual conversations and jokes that spontaneously pop up. I was never the kind of person who mixed my work life and my social life, but I really do miss just chatting with my coworkers. I hardly ever get out of the house anymore except to go to the grocery store and the gym, and that kind of sucks.

Since I'm not a freelancer, I don't have to do all the pesky things that I imagine freelancers need to do in order to gain and keep clients - I just have my regular job to focus on, and that suits me just fine. But even with the straightforward 40-hour job, I find myself spending much more time "at work" now that my office is across the hall from my bedroom. When I worked in an office, I was able to leave my work at the office, but now I often put in ten hours working without realizing it, and I frequently feel compelled to put in time on the weekends.

This answer is awfully long and probably not at all relevant to your actual question; if so, I apologize. I am just so very lonely at my remote workstation out here with no one to talk to
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:54 AM on August 5, 2009

I worked the typical 8-5 job in web/media design until I was unbelievably blessed/lucky to land a job with a company that hires remote workers from all over the world. The only home office is actually in Australia, and I'm in the US.

I work generally 30 hours a week, managing a stock graphics marketplace website (link in my profile) and doing other contracted tasks. Since it's contract work, there's no benefits like the 8-5 crowd, but it is worth it. I find the freedom and the work I do incredibly rewarding, and I get to work with brilliant, independent people from all over the world.
posted by ninjakins at 7:57 AM on August 5, 2009

I transitioned to freelance writing and editing after being layed off earlier this year, and recently started editing part-time in the mornings for a former employer (mainly for the health benefits). This provides a reliable paycheck when freelance work is light, and enough time to attend classes and work on personal projects in the afternoon. Most of my freelance work comes from former employers and friends in graphic design, but I'm working on a marketing plan to reach out to new clients. I'm don't make much money, but the free time is awesome. I probably work about 25-30 hours a week.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:59 AM on August 5, 2009

Also, I'm terrible at editing my own writing.
posted by lunalaguna at 8:02 AM on August 5, 2009

I run a popular (in its niche) blog. Sometimes I only do a few hours a week as I've brought on paid help to do the posts for me. I spend the rest of my time working on pet projects and trying to make the "next big thing" (without major success so far, admittedly).
posted by wackybrit at 8:35 AM on August 5, 2009

I'm a freelance designer working from home. I took the plunge into self employment when I realized that my work was what enabled my boss to take all of those six day weekends and still support himself.

Like most of the other freelancers are saying, it's more like 45-50 hours a week. But those 50 hours aren't all being spent sitting and staring at a monitor and doing the same thing over and over. I spend a lot of time networking, doing research, working on my own projects, meeting with clients, etc. I also have the freedom to do the work my way, which makes all the difference.

I also spread out my hours quite a bit more. I usually do business administration and communications type things in the morning and take the rest of the afternoon off to play outside or run errands, whatever I feel like doing. In the evening, when there's less likely to be interruptions, I get all of my serious work done. I used to spend that time just watching TV and trying not to think about going to work the next day, so it's a vast improvement. Ultimately my 50 hours working for myself feels like less time than I put in at my regular job.
posted by Kicky at 8:47 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

i'm a library tech (diploma at uni) and work at a public library.. oh, sometimes 8 hours a week. it's pretty common to start as a 'casual', and you can keep it. (it will get better than 8hr/week! sometimes it's even the 20hrs/week i desire).
posted by tamarack at 8:58 AM on August 5, 2009

I have my own business, which I can do wherever there's a fast internet connection. I moved into it gradually by choosing jobs that gave me relevant experience and, in those jobs, asking to be put on projects that would impress future clients. While I worked, I saved up money for a security cushion, then got clients while still employed, then quit.

Like the other self-employed people here, I often work a lot. However, I'm working on (usually) interesting projects, I'm doing everything to *my* standards, people want to hear my ideas, and I can usually turn down work I don't like.

Also, the more products I develop, the less tied I am to billable hours. I recently traveled for two weeks and spent maybe 1 hour a day dealing with the business, with no harm done to the business.

When I had jobs, I usually managed to work less than full time. University jobs were best for that, because they often provided full benefits for 30 hours of work. But even in the private sector, I could get a job as a full-timer, prove myself, and then get my hours reduced. That might be more possible these days as companies look to stay afloat but spend less money.
posted by PatoPata at 10:19 AM on August 5, 2009

Work from home but 8am-5pm (and several hours in evening usually). Started in the office; department became remote as it's largely a company offering online services/content and all the people we work for are remote already. Instructional designer (work experience and additional education).

Hours are set and I do have to be available by phone/IM/email during working hours. But there is flexibility on the wardrobe, lunch options, location I'm working from as others have noted in similar set-ups.

Note: If you're working from home expect to need a back-up plan (mobile broadband if your DSL goes down). Second computer (friend that is willing to loan) if yours crashes. You save on commuting/wardrobe costs but may need to spend a little extra on the above and getting your desk setup ergonomically, etc.
posted by ejaned8 at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2009

I work from home for a web-based startup in its second year. Some weeks I work less than 40 hours, some weeks many more, but sitting on the couch with my laptop the hours don't bother me.
On the other hand, sometimes we have to wait a couple of months between paychecks when financing/sales are low, but still, I prefer being home all day to going out to an office for a regular paycheck. Helps of course that I am working with longtime colleagues/friends so work is somewhat social, and we use skype chat so no one is isolated.
posted by Billegible at 1:02 PM on August 5, 2009

My current summer job is teaching summer school three days a week. I helped write the grant for the summer school program and we liked the idea of a three day work week, not only for us but for the students, so we made it happen.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:54 PM on August 5, 2009

I work from home, but it's a full-time job, with set hours, "for" someone rather than freelance/consulting - so my scenario might not actually be what you're looking for. It was serendipitous, really: I had to move across the country for personal reasons, but I really liked my job and coworkers and asked if I could work remotely.

My boyfriend did the same thing and ended up telecommuting for 18 months. He's a software developer and on the whole it worked out well. He did find most of the same issues as Metroid Baby with the exception that the comunication wasn't such a problem as he could let them access his computer remotely and see what he was working on. The other problem we didn't expect is that it screwed up his chances for advancement in the company. When they promoted someone to team leader he wasn't even considered since he wasn't physically there (which was understandable) despite being unofficially next in line for that job before he moved.

We know a couple of other people who do either web design or software development consulting, as others have mentioned here already. IT does seem like a good field for working from home in various ways.

I personally don't work part time but a lot of my collegues do and it's pretty common in my field (biology research). There's different ways of doing it, either working less hours each day (common for people bringing up kids) or working less days per week. Generally the pay becomes a pro-rata percentage of full time salary, e.g. one guy stopped working Friday's and just earnt 80% as much, and holiday pay etc pro-ratas in the same way. With good time management it's very doable to fit in experiments around the hours you work although it can limit the kind of research you can do or how far you can advance. To get into this industry you need at least an undergrad degree and would generally work full time for a few years proving yourself before moving into part time. But (in NZ at least) research science can be a flexible career and I know a couple of senior scentist who run their programs three days per week.
posted by shelleycat at 3:25 PM on August 5, 2009

I'm a software engineer working for a large corporation. I work from home because I had to move and my team wanted to keep me. I'd worked for the company for about a year and a half when I put in the request to go remote. It's lonely but I love the commute.
posted by crinklebat at 5:56 PM on August 5, 2009

Inpatient Registered Nurse.
I work 3 twelve hour shifts a week.
Got here by getting a BSN degree from University and then RN license from State.

Sometimes those shifts are bunched together and I'll have 4, 5, 6 days off together which is nice. Love having days off during the week. The only drag is it's hard to get together with friends with the 9 to 5 life. They're off weekends and I'm on every other weekend. Holidays are usually worked as well.
posted by dog food sugar at 4:46 AM on August 6, 2009

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