How Much "Free Time" Do Entrepreneurs Really Have? : Under30CEO How Much "Free Time" Do Entrepreneurs Really Have? : Under30CEO
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How Much “Free Time” Do Entrepreneurs Really Have?

| August 11, 2014 | 6 Comments

beach free time

One of the primary reasons I quit my job 2 years ago was so that I would have time to do things that I enjoy.

Time to read, write, meditate and train my body.

Time to learn languages and master new skills.

Time to travel and spend time with my loved ones.

I needed free time.

The fact that my dead end 9 to 5 didn’t allow me this precious time drove me CRAZY — and I even wrote a manifesto of sorts to get it off my chest.

I think most of us here can agree that the idea of being able to wake up when we want to, make our own schedules and direct the flow of our own lives without living on someone else’s clock is EXTREMELY appealing.

But what is it actually like to be completely self-reliant, without a boss or organization to keep you in check?

Do you really have more freedom as an entrepreneur than as an employee?

The answer: Yes and No.

I didn’t know what to expect until I made the leap into full time self-employment. Now, I want to show you what I’ve learned over the last two years.

(This will be a two-part post.)

Today, I want to show you some of the BIG misconceptions I had about what my schedule would be like once I was completely self-employed…and why those assumptions were so wrong.

Then, the next time we talk (on Monday), I’ll let you inside my calendar and show you what my day-to-day schedule is like, along with the psychology behind why I make certain choices, and how I organize my life without someone else telling me what to do.

Keep reading!

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First, let’s take a look at the average American employee’s work schedule. We’ll use 9am – 5pm as a basis of measurement. Most people work about 8 hours/day on average.

Average Employee Schedule

  • 6 AM Alarm goes off, wake up, curse, hit snooze button. Roll over.
  • 6:30 – 7:30 AM Getting ready for the work (shower, breakfast, etc.)
  • 7:30-8:30 AM Drive to work >> “OMG why is traffic so bad?”
  • 9AM At work, already ready for 2nd breakfast.
  • 9AM-12PM Work
  • 12PM-1PM Lunch  (perhaps a mad dash to Chiplotle?)
  • 1PM-5PM Work (dying….on the verge of complete exhaustion by 3pm)
  • 5:00:01PM GTFO

Then, of course, the inevitable commute back home to watch Shark Tank, eat dinner and pass out by 10:35PM so that you can repeat tomorrow.

Perhaps your schedule is a tad different here or there, but for the majority of young, working Americans…I know this layout is a pretty safe bet.

Misconceptions about the entrepreneur schedule

The primary complaint with the typical 9 to 5 schedule is that it simply leaves you TOO FREAKING TIRED to do anything personally fulfilling after work. From the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed, you’re in constant motion — either preparing to show up somewhere, plowing through something, or preparing to leave.

There’s no “you” time.

Weekends are a much needed respite that typically only give you enough time to recharge for the week, but offer little chance for you to make headway in personal pursuits — like learning new skills, traveling or spending a lot of time with family.

5 days on…2 days off. The math just doesn’t add up.

When I became fully self-employed, I thought I would be able to fix all the glaring problems with the “employee schedule” by simply doing the opposite of what I didn’t like.

Well, I’m here to tell you that these proposed solutions did NOT work out like I thought they would. Not even close, actually.

Here are some some assumptions I had about entrepreneur life that turned out to be false:

1.) About sleeping in…

What I said: “6am is too early to wake up! When I’m my own boss I’ll make my own schedule and wake up when I feel like it!”

What I found:

Uhmmm yeah. I was completely wrong and this was a hard lesson. If you read biographies or stories about the world’s most successful people, you’ll hear over and over again that they get up at INSANE hours like 3 and 4am to start working. Of course, I never wanted to do this. I figured that even if I stayed up late, as long as I got sleep, it didn’t really matter when I got up the next day. 8 hours is 8 hours, right?

Wrong.

Unfortunately, getting up early makes a huge difference. Waking up at 5 or 6AM allows me to have an entirely different day than waking up at 10am, simply because I’m getting a 4-5 hour jump on projects when I’m primed to be most productive. There’s nothing going on that early in the morning. I can wake up, get my coffee, hit the gym (if it’s a training day), come back, get a solid 3 hours of work in and be ready to go by the time the rest of the world is buzzing.

I’ve also tested waking up early to do work vs staying up late and I’ve found that the quality of my work waking up at 6AM is far superior to the quality of work staying up until 3am, even if I get 8 hours of sleep in both instances.

B. Franklin was right when he said “Early to bed, early to rise…makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

And that really sucks…because I love sleeping in.

Unfortunately, I can’t.

Tears.

2.) About free time to work on projects…

What I said: “I don’t have any time to work on hobbies/skills/projects I enjoy. When I work for myself, I’ll make time in the middle of the day to do things that are important. There’s no boss here except me!”

What I found:

I was really convinced that once I controlled my own schedule I’d be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted and fit everything else in around that.

To an extent, that is true. I do have a good amount of flexible time to do what I want.

BUT (and this is a big “but”), I’m still accountable to MANY people. In fact, I’m accountable to more people now than when I actually had a regular job. Even though I don’t have a boss, I have clients, partners and colleagues who depend on me daily to help them with things.

And that’s something worth thinking about — even if you ditch your boss, you’ll still need the support of other people to make it on your own. Nobody is an island.

Additionally, since I don’t have set work hours, any time (and every time) is a possible working hour. If something comes up, I have to handle it. There’s no calling in sick and having someone do my job. It’s all me.

Some days I have literally a dozen meetings.

Rather than doing what I want, when I want every day, I have to use scheduling services like ScheduleOnce and Google Calendar to keep me on track every single day.

Most days, I don’t have a gigantic block of free time in the middle of the day to do whatever I want. I may not be stuck in a cubicle, but I’m probably busy working at Starbucks (my office of choice).

So while the ability to work on my passion projects certainly exists, it’s not a free-for-all. Lots of things still have to get done, and just like a regular working Joe, I need to make sure I’m meeting my obligations.

(PS — When I do work on my own hobbies/pursuits, I always use the Seinfeld Solution.)

 

3.) About comfort…

What I said: “It’s so hard to stay focused at work. I’d love to be able to work somewhere quiet and comfortable, like my bed. When I have my own business, pajamas for work every day!”

What I found:

Working from home, especially from the comfort of your PJs is a perk that infomercial kingpins have touted about self-employment for years.

“Imagine the thrill of working from home!”

LOL. The reality is that for me, working from home sucks. Not because it’s not enjoyable, but because I simply can’t get anything done at home.

First of all, my apartment isn’t that big — so it’s not like I have miles of space to spread out.

Then, between the TV flickering in the background, the fridge calling my name and Sara running around naked (at my request)…I really can’t get anything done.

I HAVE to leave the house.

To be honest, I actually prefer separating work from home because it allows me to create a psychological distinction between the two spaces and feel much more relaxed in the “work-free” home environment.

And working in your pajamas is literally the fastest way to guarantee feeling completely unproductive for the day. Trust me, I tried today…and barely got this post finished in time. In fact, if I have to work from home, I’ll make a point to get dressed as soon as I wake up —often in a collared shirt and tie.

(This is a quick little psychological trick that discourages me from doing unproductive things or just flopping on the couch.)

*******

What’s the BIGGEST thing that you’d change about your schedule?

These are just a few of the surprising realizations that have come to me after being out on my own for two years.

On Monday, I’ll go into extreme detail about how I set my life up to accommodate getting everything done — including the exact systems I use to keep multiple balls up in the air.

In the meantime, I want to hear from ya!

If you’re currently an employee, what’s the #1 thing you dislike about your schedule and how would you change it if you were self-employed?

Leave a comment to let me know. You know I always jump in the comments are respond :)

*******

Take Your Time Back. Grab The Startup Series.

I love the Under30CEO community, so I wanted to give you something special as a “thank you” for reading this article — and also give you some useful tools to help you get started on your dream projects TODAY.

Grab my free Startup Series.

It’s a 3-part “mini-course” that will show you how to become more productive with your time, avoid the most common mistakes, and learn to launch a business/project in record time. It’s free, so just enter your email here and I’ll send it right away — completely free :)

Click to get the Startup Series for free

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

About the Author: Daniel DiPiazza

Daniel DiPiazza teaches young people how to stop doing shit that they hate and break free of 9 to 5 boredom by starting their own businesses at his blog Rich20Something.com.

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  • Ash

    Hmm.. the least liked part about my schedule? That I do not have the option of working from home while others do. I live in Atlanta and a roundtrip commute is easily 3 hours if I do not leave home/work on time. I rather avoid this by utilizing my second bedroom as an office and working from home.

  • intouchcrm

    What is the scarcest thing that business owners are desperate for (other than money)? Time. I had a friend who used to say that his life would be a lot easier if he had a third hand and an extra 8 hours a day. It is great when articles like these are written so that business owners know that they are not alone, and everybody is going through the same thing. Great post Daniel!

  • WH Phang

    There is a pro and con about entrepreneurs yes there might be a lot of flexibility and no boss to a certain extent however, it is being offset by partners, clients and so forth as the whole don’t go around alone there will be always string of attachments but at the same times it was building up unexpected tons of burdens like responsibilities of the company profit, human resources and more and more decision making. The concept with entrepreneurs especially at the beginning could be just you and slowly as the boss it become the center focus of solution providers.

    Well… I guess life is created in such a way that when you gain something you loss something in return…

  • http://www.jatinkataria.com Jatin Kataria

    I was laughing when I was reading. :D

    some part, I completely agree.. and some I have my own way of living life but I liked your article.. :)
    For me, I am always working and I am always free because I do what I love to do and I dont hesitate to say NO and nothing is lucrative if I am not interested. ;)

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Dan– I’m in Paris right now and as I’ve told you on skype, its challenging to get out of the apartment. 1) My French isn’t very good, so socializing is difficult 2) They have a shitload of cafes, but no hipster coffee shops w/ wifi (yes they do have SBUX 3) I haven’t gotten my act together to start networking / hit up the co-working spaces and meetups.

    I’m out of my comfort zone in France, but it’s easy to retreat to the confines of solitude in the apartment. I’m going a little crazy, so I can totally relate. Thanks for the post.

  • Kris White

    This is the one of the best posts I have seen on here. Seriously this article relates so much to me its crazy. I need to start waking up early as well and its weird because today I was actually thinking about how my puppy wakes me up at 7am every morning to go outside and then i let her out, feed her and then I go back to sleep until about 10am and then go to work at 11am. I realized if I just get up at 7am I could get so much work done in those hours before going to work and yea its going to be a bitch for awhile but eventually I’ll get use to it. This really helped me and I’m so happy you wrote this post because I know it affects other business owners as well.