Freelance life hacks: reclaiming the 9-5

Mar 02, 2020

The real joy of flexible working lies in having a personal lifeguard, says Momtaz Begum-Hossain

I don’t know about you, but when I signed up to ‘work-life-balance’, I meant it. I also bid farewell to sitting at my desk from 9-5 and wasting my lunch break standing in queues. I strive for a stress-free existence and that’s why I’ve assigned my least productive working hours (2.30pm-5pm) to myself. The result? I’ve discovered the pleasures of weekday afternoons and can honestly declare; ‘I’m living my best life.’

1. Queue Karma
I’ve been there, done it and can confirm, life is better when you don’t have to queue. Supermarket shopping, trying on clothes, walking into restaurants without a booking and even collecting orders from Argos in record timing…it is possible and it buys you more time because you’re no longer wasting it.

2. The Blissful Blowdry
You’ll never find me at the hairdressers on a Saturday. I tried it once, had my locks lathered up by one assistant, rough-dried by another and wasn’t even offered a cuppa’, but on Tuesday afternoons it’s a different story. When I book a blow dry I get a complimentary head massage. In the week there’s no pressure for my hairdresser to rush so I get the privilege of a longer, more pampering appointment. 

3. Private Pool Party
I aim for a decadent dip twice a week at 3pm. It’s the transition period of schools finishing and adults coming after work and it gives me a solid 30 minutes of floating in the middle of the pool without the risk of getting splashed by someone speeding down a nearby lane. Solo swimming is a chance to check in with myself, breathe deeply, savour the tranquility and experience what it must be like to own a private pool; with the added comfort of not one, but sometimes two or three lifeguards all to myself. 

The luxury of having regular ‘me time’ in the week has meant my mornings are more productive and when I open my laptop again at 5pm, I’m fully refreshed and can work solidly through until dinnertime without an ounce of guilt. My weekends are freed up as there are less ‘chores’ to do and if I have an early start or need to work late to meet deadlines, the fact I’ve relaxed during daylight hours means I’m not as drained from working long ones. 

That’s what I call the ultimate work-life-balance: doing your best at a time that your mind and body is at its optimum, and spending the rest of the time just living.


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