Quora Question: Why the 9-6 Schedule?

This answer is actually a rather fun one. In today’s society, especially since it’s the younger crowd that takes to the interwebs for answers, you may not see a lot of positive answers regarding the “daily grind.” That does not mean, however, that there are not advantages to working in a typical career with “normal” hours.

First, let’s examine some jobs that come to mind when we hear 9–6

  1. Administrators—These folks are the ones that are behind the scenes taking care of paperwork or ensuring that things run smoothly for other employees on the front lines dealing with customers or out performing whatever tasks are required in their company’s field. Though they have a somewhat tumultuous reputation for not caring about others, it is simply in their personalities to take care of the big pictures so that others can handle situations individually.
  2. Healthcare—Follow the link here for a whole list of medical specialists who maintain the 9–5 or 9–6 work schedule. This comes from a history of standard hours that these highly trained professionals maintain where emergencies are not the norm. Instead, you schedule times to meet with these guys and gals so they have the option of setting their hours (often exactly the schedule in question).
  3. Government—Many know this simply because of the frustration of getting off work or needing to utilize one of these services only to find they are closed haha! There are advantages though like holidays off, set schedules and a fairly predictable work day if you’re the one working for them though.
  4. Teacher—I’m adding this purely because I am a teacher. Though this is not exactly within the time frame of the question (I personally report in at 7:30 and am required to be on campus until 3:30 which turns into 5 after getting all of my stuff done), I believe it fits well enough into the vein of this topic as it is a “morning shift” job that has a set schedule around the hours listed.

At first glance, these broad categories don’t seem particularly appealing. The latest generations have found numerous ways to earn a very good living working outside of these norms and without necessitating the drive to a cramped space to churn out results, but still we have those who choose to remain in “white collar” jobs. Why is that?

I believe I have a unique perspective here as I straddle the line. I relatively young having not yet topped 3 decades, and yet I have both a standard morning job as well as a side-gig that I follow randomized hours. Every evening after I finish with the teaching portion of my day I maintain my own business tutoring math. Depending on how I am feeling that day, I may work until midnight or not at all. I have that freedom and sometimes double in a month what I earn at the school.

So why? Better pay. More flexible hours. No boss telling me what to do. Less hours overall. Quite a compelling argument can be made for ditching the 9–6 and is discussed at length all over the internet. Let me try to explain why I still keep both in order to shed some light on the situation.

SECURITY

Not exactly like that. I mean financial security and peace of mind. So many side gigs or online avenues require a certain level of risk. While I clearly found it worth venturing out of my comfort zone in order to earn money with my own tutoring business, I also had the back-up ready to pay the bills.

Many people either do not believe they can start a business or have fluctuating income due to families they have to support or as a result of poor money management. Older generations may not see the value in such crazy ideas, and younger folks who lack confidence to put their ideas out into the world remain happy with their salaries because they know at the end of the day they will be able to eat and have a place to sleep.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with individuals who choose to pursue their security this way as it is tried and true and has functioned well for a very long time. As we will discuss in other reasons, these people usually have more purpose in choosing this lifestyle than fear of leaving it which means their motivation rests elsewhere.

I can personally attest to the frightening aspect of having alternative work schedules. I have had great months where I’ve earned as much as $7000 just working part time tutoring, but I have also seen months where I brought in only $500. With a little saving skills and budgeting, the lean months aren’t so rough, but for the sake of argument here, it is an example worth noting.

Personality

A key to consider here is how others think. Many who find themselves in this thread are probably opposed to the idea of such a work schedule on some level due to the way they think. Unfortunately, everyone in life thinks a little differently, though wide patterns in behavior certainly exist. For example, people who like to work 9–6 for a salary.

Personally, I do prefer my open schedule and higher potential earnings due to the way I’m wired and the values that I hold. I was raised to take risks and always attempt to make the best of myself in every situation. To me, this took on the form of beginning a tutoring business to help others in math where they were struggling in the standard educational setting.

Many, though, find comfort in stability. This goes beyond the security detailed above and refers to where people find enjoyment. A comfy chair after a drive chilling to music might be a calming way to start the morning for some rather than viewing it as stuck in traffic then trapped in a cubicle. Working on approving a new policy with a team then returning to your own life with a definitive time to separate work and play every day might be just what certain personalities need.

Schedule

How could anything be easier to work around than a flexible schedule you control? Those writing jobs you see online aimed at stay-at-home parents who hustle the kids to and fro for school and practice fit perfectly in the down times. Yet the 9–6 crowd also usually has kids that they seem to raise fairly well and even allow for some extracurricular activities. How?

When you know that Monday-Friday you will be occupied for a given time, you schedule everything else around it. In rare instances you take time off for a special event or emergency. You have the advantage of relying on the fact that every day until the end of time, you will have the exact same hours of the day you will work. That leaves the rest for you to do whatever you need to or want to with.

Planning evenings with friends or nights out with the significant other become simple tasks that require very little thought. Personally, my friends make fun of me quite often saying “Kagan isn’t alive during the week.” This began when I had a terrible stomach issue that I couldn’t make time to go to the doctor for. It was silly of me, but having to move around tutoring when I had every single second booked from 7 am to 11 pm Monday through Friday, shifting things around became a nightmare.

For those who enjoy their 9–6 schedules, the idea of having the added responsibility of setting all those sessions up and having every day present a new challenge or whisk me off to a new location to tutor can be a nightmare. It certainly is to me on some days, and I enjoy it! The monotony we see can instead be a different kind of security and comfort for those other personality types.

Reward

The ultimate determination of anyone’s career choice is the reward involved. For some, this may be compensation. How much does it pay, and will it cover the lifestyle I want to live. Others may require the balance between work life and home life. This is the group who typically are “content with just earning a salary and working 9–6 their entire adult life.”

One of the highest rated job satisfactions is securely in place with actuaries. These guys earn a pretty darn good living working the 9–6 schedule, and most report this is due to exactly that balance between work, home, and pay.

Still others do what they do because they believe it is right or for the personal rewards involved. I fall in this category as a teacher. There are so many other things I could do with a math/physics degree, yet I choose to teach. Even then, I have already stated that I earn far more and even find more enjoyment tutoring. So why teach? Just for the security?

I grew up poor and dreamed of having a tutor so that I wouldn’t be so bored academically. (Weird right?) Because of that, I teach so that those who can’t afford private tutoring still get to see me. I still get to have an impact on their lives and hopefully alleviate some of the fears they have about mathematics. Further still, I am able to utilize that secure income to offer a few sessions privately for free to help make a difference that I never got to experience as a kid.

Many find there contentment in believing what they do makes a difference, which keeps them where they are happily working the 9–6. That’s not to say the same satisfaction cannot be had from us entrepreneurs who sought a different avenue. Instead, it simply means these others found their calling in a sector that utilizes a different schedule.

Conlcusion

There are dozens more ideas that could lead to an individual working with the philosophy you asked about that may not fit under the broad categories I mentioned. In the end, however, I hope that this has shown that different ideologies, though potentially foreign to us, can hold just as much meaning to those who hold them.

Thanks!

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