Office

Returning to the 9-to-5, Six Months Later

August 21, 2012

in career, life changes, working, writing

Today marks six months since I started back in the world of 9-to-5.

Yes, the time has flown.

Yes, it’s been an adjustment.

Yes, sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve gone back.

Yet, here I am, hitting quite a milestone and completely committed to a new role in a new industry. If you read my recent article on Psychology Today, you’ll know I still have mad respect for freelancers. And I have mad respect for 9-to-5ers who become freelancers and freelancers who become 9-to-5ers. As I’m someone who has gone back and forth between the two, this is what has hit me during my second round of office-bound work.

Getting used to a lot of different personalities: When you work alone nearly every day for more than two years, you become quite independent and set in your ways. Which is to say you sort of turn into Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. Going from an office of one to an office of hundreds is like boarding a plane in Qatar and landing in Siberian winter. It takes adjusting. It takes caffeine. It takes headphones.

But I’ve surprised myself. It was way easier than I thought to build rapport with people at my company. It’s still a challenge some days to manage other peoples’ thoughts, opinions and egos when mine are so strong. But, being around other people isn’t so bad. In fact, I kind of miss them when I occasionally work from home.

Office
Knowing I still get paid no matter how hard I work that day: This one is huge and not something I take advantage of. Like my Psych Today post says, freelancers spend a lot of time working because they have to. It’s not a matter of not having enough money to buy that $500 jacket. It’s not having enough money to eat.

This isn’t to say I’ve ramped down my work ethic. I work for someone with an incredible commitment to the job who expects a lot. I definitely still work hard, but I think I work a lot smarter.

Learning better organization and project management: I didn’t use Outlook or Excel in my freelance life. And I should have. I still feel completely overwhelmed some days, but I now have a better handle on what I have to work on when. I’ve also relearned the art of outlining and working on portions of projects instead of the whole thing. As a journalist and writer, I’ve worked on assignments, not projects. Everything was on a “per” basis, not a whole ongoing campaign or program. Now project management is part of my daily duties.

Honing the skills I already have while learning others: My role requires finding the right people to talk to, researching and getting information and pulling it all together into something cohesive. I also get to blog several times a week. But the type of writing I do is so different. Marketing copy is a whole new ball game for me, and learning it is hard when you come from a just-the-facts background. I am humbly learning a lot.

Have you returned to the 9-to-5 after freelancing or running your own business? What have you learned, regretted, appreciated, etc.?

Courtesy of Martin Cathrae

12 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Haha I love your Shining reference! I would never imagine you having much of a problem transitioning to a work place in rapport and conversation, you’re a lovely, bubbly gal. Hope you are enjoying your new line of work. It’s good to see you are still fitting in a few pieces here and there despite working a 9-5. I know that can be hard. All the best.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      All writers have had those days, right — you haven’t left the house for three days, you’re sitting in the same underwear, crumbs all down your shirt, haha. Thank you for your very kind comments. I’m not always bubbly, but I try to put my best face forward 🙂

      Reply
  2. Laura

    Lauren! It’s been a while since I dropped in on you, and am now catching up with your changes – congrats on making changes! Interesting to read, as I struggle with the same issues while freelancing. Keep the great posts coming…I’m due to be in Sydney again soon, so I will try and resked our coffee from ages ago!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Hi Laura! Thanks for much for popping by to catch up and comment — I’m actually headed up your way for a work trip in the coming weeks (one of the perks of the 9-to-5!). Definitely let me know when you’re in Sydney.

      Reply
  3. Nick Schaefer

    Great article Lauren. I enjoyed this article because it is a topic that you don’t often read much about. Thanks for sharing your insight. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks Nick! I thought it was important to let people know what it’s been like. You can go back and forth between freelancing and full-time corporate work. How are things going for you?

      Reply
  4. Erik

    I don’t exactly work a 9-5 (more like 5-9 🙁 ) but my return from the month is New Zealand was about as rough as it could be- less than 24 hours after landing, I was back driving a truck (I don’t usually drive, I’m a manager). Rude return.

    Glad yours has gone better!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Doesn’t it always seem you get smacked in the face with more work than normal when you come back from a trip? August has been insanely busy and it started right after I came back from Hawaii. Maybe it’s better to have it that way because instead of having to ease in, you’re just plunged! It’s like jumping into a cold pool instead of wading in. Have things slowed up at all?

      Reply
  5. Nomadic Samuel

    The Shining reference is very appropriate 🙂 I’ve alternated between backpacking and teaching overseas and the experiences are radically different. Going from carefree to backpacker to responsible teacher is a tough transition at times. I feel like I’m going from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      And at the same time, you are constantly getting a taste of the other side of things. The grass is always greener in one way or another and it’s cool you can alternate between the two when it suits you.

      Reply
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