I Can’t Work a 9 to 5: What To Do


can't work a 9 to 5

The most common work day hours are 9am to 5pm Monday – Friday for eight hours per day and 40 hours per week.

Assuming that you sleep for about eight hours per day, that means that half of your waking hours are spent working. 

For many people, that number of hours and that regimented of a schedule is simply too much. In fact, for some people, working a 9 to 5 can simply feel like a waste of a life.

If you feel that way, know that you’re not alone. 

To that end, we’re going to unpack if it’s normal to feel like you can’t work a 9 to 5 and offer recommendations about what to do if you’re feeling that way.

Let’s dive in.

Is It Normal to Not Want to Work a 9 to 5?


A recent survey showed that more than 70% of 9-5 workers are unhappy at their jobs.

There are a multitude of reasons that go into that such as a lack of work-life balance, a feeling of meaninglessness in work, lack of career growth, knowledge of the difference in financial upside between ownership and the staff, a toxic boss or culture, etc.

Whatever the specific reason is for each person, the point is that it is normal to not want to work a 9 to 5 as the majority of people that work that schedule are unhappy in their jobs.

Is Working a 9 to 5 Worth It?

thinking person

Despite many people being unhappy with their 9-5 jobs, in general, yes, it’s worth it to work a 9 to 5.

A 9 to 5 is the most common way for people to generate an income. And, obviously, having a income is critical to living well and meeting your basic needs.

Also, a 9 to 5 can also actually be enjoyable place to do great work and build positive relationships if you pick the right context.

However, I will say that you do only get one life. And if you know that a 9 to 5 simply does not suit you then it might not be worth it to follow that path. In that case, I would encourage you to experiment and find alternate paths for what to do with your life.

How to Survive a 9 to 5?

survive job

In my view, the best way to survive a 9 to 5 is to find a job or career that aligns with your working preferences as closely as possible.

One of the most helpful ways that I find to assess your working preferences is to use the flower exercise from the book What Color is Your Parachute.

Basically, the book argues that there are seven core aspects of every job (which it calls pedals of a flower) and you can assess your fit for a particular job or career based upon what you want in each of those seven flowers.

Here is what the seven flowers are:

  1. Compatibility with people
  2. Workplace conditions
  3. Skills
  4. Purpose
  5. Knowledges
  6. Money 
  7. Location 

Finding a job that aligns as closely as possible with what you want in those key aspects should help you to survive working a 9 to 5.

One aspect in particular that I’ll call out is “compatibility with people.” Working for a boss that you enjoy and as a part of a team that you enjoy, in my experience, goes such a long way in enabling you to not just survive but also enjoy your 9 to 5.

What To Do If You Can’t Work a 9 to 5?

thinking person

If you find that you simply can’t work a 9 to 5 and it’s not in line with the life that you want to build for yourself, then you’ll need to find alternative ways to earn an income. 

We’ll talk more about ideas for how to earn an income without working a 9 to 5 in the next section but, the good thing is that in the internet and remote work era, there are more opportunities than ever to earn an income in a non traditional way and create your own work context.

How To Make Money Without Working a 9 to 5?

When it comes to making money without working a 9 to 5, there a few common paths that people pursue that I’ll call out:

The Gig Economy

gig economy

The gig economy refers to temporary, contract, and freelance jobs. Commonly these are things like driving Uber, delivering DoorDash, doing household tasks via TaskRabbit, etc.

The advantage of earning an income via the gig economy is that you have the flexibility to work when you choose and you don’t have a traditional boss that you’re working for.

Building or Buying Your Own Business

accepted job offer

Business ownership is a way to maximize your earning potential and control over your time. 

When you own a business, there’s nobody that dictates how much you earn and, thus, your potential is unlimited.

Granted, it comes with a lot of risk. And if your business doesn’t work out, you lose all of that money. But, it is a path to being in maximum control of your time and life.

Good resources for buying businesses include Jaryd Krause for online businesses and Codie Sanchez for traditional local businesses.



Another option would be to use the skills that you’re using in your 9 to 5 as a freelancer.

When freelancing, you have multiple clients and are your own boss, so you can choose your working hours while still deploying the traditional skills that you would use in a 9 to 5.



The last common way to make money without a 9 to 5 that I’ll call out is by investing.

A common path to leaving a 9 to 5 is investing in rental real estate. Other people invest in the stock market full time.

Similar to owning a business, investing means that you take ownership of an asset and you have much more upside and flexibility.


While working a 9 to 5 is the most common path to earning an income, it’s not for everyone. 

Fortunately, in today’s day and age, there’s more flexibility and opportunity than ever to earn an income outside of a traditional 9 to 5 context. 

So, if you believe you simply can’t work a 9 to 5, it’s start to start exploring alternative paths on the side.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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