How to Work 9-to-5 as a Creator and Why

The Internet and all of its apps deliver an abundance of ways you can create content. And a lot of methods can prove to be quite lucrative while letting you do whatever you want when you want. But should you have set hours to work as a creator?

If you’re like me and have a great deal on your plate, then, yes. Having a set schedule can work wonders. In fact, even slicing up your day in a 9-to-5 fashion when you’re not ultra busy can be of great benefit.

This is especially true if you have the right things in mind.

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Why Have Set Hours to Work as a Creator?

I’ve been working from home since February of 2013. And in all of that time, I rarely found the opportunity to work whenever I wanted to. Well, outside of personal projects.

Even then, most of the time, something else sidetracked me from doing certain things. It’s not as easy to manage as some would have you believe. Still, it’s manageable as long as you’re a self-starter and are able to adapt quickly when things don’t go as planned.

So, why does it matter if you set a “work” schedule as opposed to being a creator all willy-nilly?

  • Keeps me motivated. If I’m all over the place, it’s more difficult to stay on task.
  • Lets me prioritize and block time efficiently.
  • Am able to complete important projects versus mundane ones.
  • Reduces the risk of burnout. I can surely handle an 8-hour workday.
  • Lets others know when not to interrupt me. Distractions can quickly eat away the day.
  • Most business clients want me available when they are. In my situation, this means 9-to-5 ish.
  • Pushing yourself too hard is bad for your mental health. Too many people try to grind 16-hour days for whatever reason. It wears you down pretty damn quick…speaking from experience.

These are just some of the benefits of why I chose to set a work day as a creator. I need some semblance of structure and balance to keep me focused and productive.

I know there are some people out there who can just crank out content at all times of the day. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. I rather prefer a straight edge to my flow.

How I Work My Day as a Creator

You really don’t need to grind yourself into dust in order to make it as a creator of any kind. In my case, it’s all about writing, blogging, and freelancing. Nonetheless, I’d use the same principles below if I were a Twitch gamer.

There is such a thing as pushing too hard, which is why you see YouTubers often taking breaks before they crash.

In any case, this is how I manage my work day as a creator, whether I’m writing, working with clients, or making YouTube videos.

Prioritize the Important Things

Creating a list of priorities is perhaps one of the most important things that have helped me recently. By analyzing what I need to get done and its level of importance, I’m able to set up a day that is extremely productive.

For instance, the first thing I do is work on my client’s content. After all, they are who pay my bills. Then, I move over to writing my second book, which is ultra-important for me to finish. Then, I move on to blogs as I do bring in a bit of cash from them.

My point is that when you start prioritizing the things that matter most in your day, you feel far more accomplished by the end. Even if you don’t get everything on your list completed, you can still relish getting the vital things out of the way.

Create Blocks of Time in Management Apps

Prioritizing my workload is great, but having the best project management apps can help keep you organized. While there’s nothing wrong with writing out your work day in a notepad, certain apps can vastly help a creator arrange his or her day with ease.

In my case, I use the free version of Asana. It lets me put up blocks of time of what I want to get done, and then I check them off as I work throughout the day. If I don’t get something finished before the end of my workday, I grab the block and move it to the next.

Whether you’re a freelancer, blogger, or YouTuber, project management apps are worth every moment setting them up. I know I’d be completely lost if I didn’t have Asana.

Commit to a 9-to-5 Schedule

The hardest part is committing to a 9-to-5 schedule. It can be very tempting to keep going long after your day is done. But every minute you push yourself harder is another that you’re under stress.

On the other side of the coin, you might be tempted to just check out after a couple of hours. In this case, you’re not getting the most out of being a creator.

The bottom line is the closer you get to putting in a full 8-hour day, the better off you’ll be.

Since I use my spreadsheet to keep track of everything I do, I try to work between 80 and 100% of my workday. Yes, my sheet monitors every minute I spend throughout the day.

Anyway, 80-100% seems to be the sweet spot for my success. Yours might be different.

Don’t Be Afraid to Postpone Something

One of my biggest issues in the past was obsessing over things I didn’t get done. There are days when I’ll dump 12 hours into a project because I have an issue with stopping and calling it a day before I solve a problem.

It’s not very healthy, especially since in these situations, I won’t get much sleep because I’m still obsessing.

You can’t be afraid to say, “end of the day, guess I’ll finish it tomorrow.” This is when prioritizing projects comes in handy. If you get a good work day going, then it’s the lesser things that get put off as a creator.

Case in point, I won’t be able to finish this post before my day ends. But since I have the next 7 days to schedule the article, I can come back to it tomorrow to finish if I have time.

Learn to Say “No” More Often

One of my biggest hangups over the past decade has been the inability to say, “no.” This is when someone asks me to go somewhere, help them with something, or otherwise take time away from my workday.

It’s not as bad as it used to be, but there are times when I still think I should have said no.

Your time is incredibly valuable when you work from home as a creator. Every minute you’re not producing content is one of which you’re probably not getting paid. Well, unless you’re working for a client.

Don’t be rude about it, but let others know that you’re working. Just because you don’t clock in with a corporate entity doesn’t mean it’s not a job or career. Those people need to understand that.

Put in Maximum Effort to Work as a Creator

When focusing on an 8-hour day, you need to put in maximum effort if you want to succeed. Remember what I said about your time being valuable? Every moment you spend scrolling through Tik Tok is one you’re not using to be productive yourself.

This is incredibly apparent when you are paid for production, such as using content mills or having clients who pay you per word.

Personally, I view any time you spend honing your craft as time well spent. This includes things like taking courses, researching processes, practicing, and other educational elements.

Not all productive things center around creation. Sometimes just learning something new about your trade could vastly impact your content and success.

Did you know I have a book on Amazon about how I became a success as a freelance writer while developing my blogs? It’s a story about dealing with impostor syndrome and depression while striving to become more than I was.

Get Your Copy of A Freelancer’s Tale Today!

Do You Need to Stick to a 9-to-5 Schedule Precisely?

Now, when I say a “9-to-5,” I’m actually referring to an 8-hour block of time. You could have a 10 pm to 6 am schedule if you’d like. As long as you’re productive and can commit to the stretch of time, that’s all that really matters.

The idea is to treat your writing or creating as a traditional job…only without having a boss standing over your shoulder to make sure things get done.

Something like this is much easier to manage for Gen X. We’ve grown up with traditional work settings and have an easier time adapting those strategies as a creator. Younger generations might have a more difficult time as many have never had a solid 9-to-5 job.

At least one that pushes your limits.

I’ve built fences, tarred roofs, broke cement, waited tables, and have been a line cook at ultra-busy restaurants. So, it’s not much for me to focus on an 8-hour schedule to get things done today.

In any case, having a solid 8-hours that you can focus on in your career will help you avoid things like burnout. That is as long as you don’t get sucked into “hustle culture.”

Consistently pushing yourself too hard will have a negative impact on your mental health as well as your social life.

Hustle Culture Is Not What it’s Cracked Up to Be

A lot of “experts” want you to hustle hard to make that bag. But in reality, pushing yourself to the brink of collapse is detrimental to your health in a myriad of ways.

In fact, a lot of people will point out how hustle culture is toxic.

This doesn’t mean that you should be a hopeless slack-ass and take quiet quitting to the Nth degree. You should still put in maximum effort to get where you want to go. But it does mean you shouldn’t beat yourself into a sticky paste to get to that point.

In all seriousness, I can get an incredible amount of stuff done throughout the day. By efficiently using every moment when I work, I often get a lot of creator projects completed.

This includes writing two blog posts, recording and uploading a video, setting up the live stream, finishing client projects, and maintaining several websites. I did this yesterday within an 8-hour period.

But as soon as my 6 pm alarm went off, I took a step back and stopped. That’s because I have a 9-to-6 schedule simply to give myself adequate 15-minute breaks and a half hour for lunch.

So, it’s still possible to get an incredible amount of stuff done without pushing yourself well beyond your limits. It all comes down to time management and what you do with those eight hours.

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How Do You Stay Productive?

When you’re working from home, it can be quite difficult to stay motivated. Especially if you’re not seeing immediate results for your efforts.

For example, I know a lot of streamers who will quit within a week or two simply because they haven’t built an audience as they wanted.

As a creator, you need to focus your work more on the long game. Unless you instantly go viral and amass a large audience who truly loves your work, which is very rare, it’s going to take time.

Keep productive, but know when to say that it’s time to call it a day.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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