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Psyche Yourself Out of the 9-5 Rut

Updated on August 5, 2010
What a Way To Make a Living!
What a Way To Make a Living!

Get up (way too early), drink coffee or energy drink (don't forget extra sugar or any other chemicals to artificially get your day started), look presentable (as if anybody's eyes are open that early in the morning), jump in your hamster wheel (I mean car) and off you go (all the while praying to the speedy commute gods). Sound familiar? This is the life of a 9-5er. This is what the generations before mine aspired to be.

Throughout my years of studying psychology, I began to notice that the 9-5 life doesn't fit anywhere within the natural boundaries of our human psyche- in fact, it is completely unnatural. It's like fashion designers announcing that all clothing will be one-size-fits all. The typical 9-5 hours and work conditions do not coincide with a healthy and happy life for most people. Most people's circadian clock doesn't match that of a 9-5 schedule. We keep pushing this one-size-fits all lifestyle on everybody and we keep getting more obese, stressed, and more divorced (coincidence? Prove me wrong). The hours themselves are brutal, especially at workplaces that value face-time more than performance and productivity- "Johnny works overtime every week..." Oh goody, now give him a gold star and go stuff your face with free office doughnuts while Johnny helps himself to a stress related heart attack.

Seriously, 9-5 is the epidemic causing all other epidemics. So how do you get out of the the 9-5 rut? Do what psychologists do; view your life objectively.Psychologists make an "over" living helping you to solve your problems and they do this by being the objective and unbiased commentator. Work is the most difficult aspect of our lives to examine because we do it day in and day out- like a bad habit. You can fix this sans psychologist. Hop in your hamster wheel and take a drive through several working middle class neighborhoods around 5:30- 6:30pm (you may have to get off work a little early, but what the heck, you deserve it). You'll start seeing all the miserable 9-5ers coming home, slouched over, tired, dragging their precious personalized coffee mug, and nervously twitching to get to the TV remote so they can escape the rest of their day. The object of this exercise is to see yourself in these people- essentially they are you or very similar at least. Do they look happy?

Welcome to another wake-up call. Fact: Most jobs that make great money, or make a phenomenal impact in the lives of others, or are driven by creativity and love of one's work, are not 9-5 jobs. If you aren't working for any of the aforementioned reasons, then you are in an oblivious 9-5 rut. Whether your rut is financial or psychological, you'll never get out if you don't, somewhat, enjoy your job. Ask yourself what changes need to be made in order to make new money in a new way? Does this job bring out the best in you? Does the job effect your personal life in a negative way? What inspires you? Could you make money at it? Are you investing in yourself by working where you currently are? 9-5 jobs are probably the most unstable job out there. Somebody else will always work for less and put up with more work abuse than you. There goes your fantasy of job security.

If you have to work 9-5, make sure you get off by 5pm. Impressing the boss isn't worth your health and happiness:

Pack your lunch so you don't have to spend time going somewhere to get it, then you can sneak in a quick noon nap in your car.

Don't forget to take advantage of your 10 minute breaks, whatever your state law suggests, and make your personal phone calls during these times instead of using precious lunch time.

Make sure you remind your boss of the projects and tasks you have completed for the day or week. Keeping your focus on production may detour them from concentrating on the amount of hours you put in. Bottom line should be more important than face-time.

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important"...Bertrand Russell.


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    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 4 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Express10~ thanks for stopping by. Yes, I agree with you on all your points, which are good ones by the way.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      I am such a Johnny come lately to this hub but had to say I enjoyed reading. These things ring particularly true. I worked a 9 - 5 and in short, it sucked. Having to ASK other adults if/when I could use the restroom, take a break, take a vacation, have a day off, or visit the doctor just seemed insulting to me.

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      ericsomething~ I've always been a night owl. Do my best thinking and more productive later in the day or night. I heard a joke the other day about not waking up in single digits- I like that because I usually get up at 10 am- I don't like single digits and 7am should be outlawed.

      "find a time slot and stick with it." Great advice

    • ericsomething profile image

      Eric Pulsifer 7 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Good stuff, izetti. All of this reminds me (as if I need help there) of why I am self-employed. And most of my productive time is late at night, working in short bursts with frequent breaks.

      I used to work the overnight shift in a casino, and noticed many of my late-night coworkers trying to live on a 9-5 schedule during their days off. It takes a few weeks to adjust to any major scheduling shift, and by changing things up on your days off the body is thrown into a constant state of adjustment. To me, this puts an incredible strain on body and mind.

      I tell folks, find a time slot and stick with it.