9 to 5er? 80-hour workhorse? Remote part-timer? Here’s your guide to surviving (and thriving) in the modern workplace

by Jennifer Sigler | Aug 23, 2017 | Workhappy Blog

Surviving in today’s modern workplace requires intentional productivity – and a bit of luck.

This post began with a title: 9 to 5 Survival Guide. And yet, it now seems to be one of the least applicable titles for the modern workplace.

The modern workplace has gone through (and continues to go through) a dramatic change in the last decade.

In fact, I only know of two people who work what could perhaps be called a more “regular” work schedule. Those two people are my husband and a close friend of mine – both of whom tend to work extended hours — nine, 10, 11, 12-hour days — before calling it quits.

Most other people in my life either own more agency over their time, or work shift hours that change from day to day, or week to week. And while having more autonomy sounds like a great thing, it can be disastrous for the person who craves routine.

Our bodies like routine. We perform better when our daily life is, for the most part, uniform.

We have become a society of on-demand work, and even when you love your job, there are days where it feels like your motivation is zapped and you aren’t making progress towards your goals. These days are a threat to our productivity, because they can easily slide into one another and create weeks… Weeks?

A simple Google search will provide hundreds of results for some sort of 9-to-5 survival guide — but 9-to-fivers are steadily becoming the minority. There are, however, what I believe to be universal good habits you can practice no matter what you’re job situation is, whether you work 80 hours a week, are retired, raise your children from home, work from home, travel extensively, or actually have a job that operates 9-to-5.

It is essential to feel a piece of accomplishment — especially on the rough days. When the daily grind sneaks up on you, you must slap it in the face.


Our daily habits are crucial aspect of what shapes the direction of our lives. Choose a morning routine and stick with it. This creates positive momentum that you will bring with you to the office.


Now that you have a morning routine, test out getting up a little earlier. Yes, even if you aren’t a “morning person.” This does not mean start waking up at 5 a.m. if you currently rise at 8 a.m. If you are a person who is productive in the evenings and tends to get a lot of work done late at night, then this type of dramatic change will negatively impact you; we all need a good night’s sleep.

When you currently wake up is not necessarily the point. Just examine your current schedule, and set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier. You would be surprised what you can accomplish in an extra 30 minutes each day — even if what you accomplish is having 30 minutes to yourself to drink a cup of coffee and catch up on the morning’s news before the rest of your house wakens.

No doubt you will find the extra time helps you not rush out the door, and starts your day on a positive note.


Know what times you work best, and plan accordingly. If you get your best stuff done in the morning, try not to schedule any meetings, phone calls or appointments during this time.

If you work best late at night, then use those hours to your advantage. Go over your calendar make any lists you will require for the following day, and remind yourself of the important tasks ahead.


Whether you prefer to hit the ground running in the morning or operate on autopilot for the first several hours of the day, prepping the night before means less thinking and more doing.


As a freelancer myself, it is hard to get myself to take breaks. Not only does my time feel monetized the way in never had before in other more traditional positions I’ve held, but it is so easy to get caught up writing or editing an article that four hours will easily pass before I realize my butt hasn’t left the chair once.

I really don’t need to tell anyone (or anyone to tell me) how bad this is for my health; the struggle is real. But do try to be diligent about taking a proper break every two hours for 10 to 20 minutes — preferably doing something more active than sitting, or glued to your smart phone.


Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is for us to be honest with ourselves — especially when it comes to harnessing our productivity.

Take me, for example. I am a big believer in making lists. I love a good list. I love lists so much, in fact, that I can spend just as much time (or more) creating a good to-do list than actually doing anything on the list.

And so, for me, being productive can mean not making a list; I am already well-aware of the pressing matters that need my attention, I don’t need a written note to myself to add to the pressure or take time away from completing the task.

It is important to examine your habits from a distance. What are you doing right now to get yourself closer to where you want to be and what you want to achieve?

Jennifer Sigler is a Senior Writer with The UpWrite Group. Send a message to services@TheUpWriteGroup.com to see how she can help enhance your corporate or personal brand.

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