Should you work fixed hours, even if you have a flexible schedule?

The beauty of having a flexible schedule, when you are a freelancer, remote worker, or consultant, is being able to work whenever you like. When traveling, you can spend the whole day touring and working at night. Or maybe working in the morning and night, and enjoying the evenings. Whatever you want, it’s your call.

But, what about a daily working schedule, for when you aren’t traveling, should you have one? Or is it better to roll with the day as it is? Before giving you my answer, let me tell you how I started my first months working remotely, 4 years ago.

Here’s my process when I started working remotely: I woke up every day, check my list of tasks, start working on the higher priority items, and finish when I think I’d done enough. I worked like that for multiple weeks.

Quickly after, it was normal for me to start late in the morning and stay late in the evening. I skipped social life for multiple months given my “odd” working hours and found myself alone with no human connections. In reality, I’m the one who created this unsustainable schedule.

A few days later, I had my first burnout. And it was time to take some time off to think about all of this and recharge my batteries.

The first thing I did after coming back is switch to fixed hours for working. Of course, if there is something I should take care of, I can adapt my working schedule. But if there is none, I’ll work in a fixed timeframe.

From that day on, I never start working before 8 AM, and I never work past 6 PM. For days when I need to go past 6 PM or start before 8 AM, I know it’s temporary.

Having flexibility is good, but too much flexibility is a little dangerous if you don’t take it seriously.

So, to answer the question I started with, I believe having a fixed schedule/timeframe, even if you have flexible hours, is the way to go. This will help you keep your social life, and stay out of the burnout territory.

Of course, you can always adapt your schedule if you’re on the move, or have something you need to attend. But for everyday life, pick a fixed schedule.

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New to remote working? But it feels lonely and unproductive. Is the lack of structure disorienting? No worries I’ve been there too.

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