The Grind versus The Hustle: Comparing Office Work and Creative Work

9-to-5 jobs get a bad rap. But, just as there are tons of benefits to working on your own projects, there are obvious benefits to the 9-to-5, even beyond a capitalist society.

Now, clearly there are companies where these 6 benefits aren’t in play — and in that case? Your company is probably not a healthy one to work for. Polish your resume and see if you can get out. Or? You’re not actually working a 9-5 job.

6 Benefits Of The Daily Grind

  1. Health Insurance
    If you live outside the United States, this might not be such a big deal, but working a full-time (36+ hours a week) in the states means that your company subsidizes your health insurance. Buying your own insurance on the open market starts at $500 a month and only covers catastrophic health issues…

    When you’re a creative — or otherwise self-employed, that insurance comes out of your own pocket — or you find a spouse and get on their insurance.
  2. Regular paychecks
    You know when payday is, it comes regularly, and you know how much you’re going to get. Plus? Taxes are already taken out of it and you only have to file at the end of the tax year.

    When you’re a creative — or otherwise self-employed, that paycheck comes when you have a contract, and complete and deliver your product. Assuming you can get your client to pay up what they owe you, when you bill them. Sometimes, that can be a challenge.
  3. Known Tasking
    At a 9-to-5, you know you’re doing the right thing – or at least the thing your boss wants you to do. If you’re at a good company, you know what they want and how they want it.

    In my 9-to-5, I write code, and I’m told what to code and what language to code in.

    But if you’re not working the grind, you’ve got to be hustling. You’re either out there trying to convince someone to buy what you’re making, or you’re looking for someone who needs your skills and using them on whatever projects they’re willing to pay for.
  4. Objectives
    When given a task at a 9-to-5 job, assuming it’s run properly, you know what the task is for and what it needs to do/look like.

    At my 9-to-5, when I get a task, I am given requirements, things my code must do and things it should not allow.
  5. Set Endpoints
    At a 9-to-5, you know when you’ve finished a task. Either your boss stops asking for you to fix it, you hit the deadline, or it’s a regular task you do, but you know when it’s been accomplished

    For me, I have due dates and I have tests my code must pass. Once it passes those tests and/or that deadline? I’m done and need to move on to the next task.

    When you’re a creative, you work on something until you think you have it, or you can’t stand to work on it any more, then you try to sell it. Or have someone else take a look. Some people get into the trap of eternal revision, or re-painting, tweaking their projects for eternity and never finishing.
  6. Done when you go home
    The biggest change for me after I graduated college was, once I left work, I was done. There was no homework.

    Now, there are jobs that have people on call, and companies with poor work/life balance, but for a standard 9-to-5, when you’re done, you’re done until you walk through that door again in the morning.

    When you’re a creative — or otherwise self-employed, your day is never done. You’re always working, or thinking about working, or thinking you should be working on your project. Your life and your work bleed together.

Now, that said, clearly I wouldn’t be here blogging if I thought the 9-to-5 life was the end-all and be-all of the working world.

Benefits Of Being A Creative

  1. Answer to yourself
    No one else is telling you what to do, when to do it, and what time to show up.
  2. Work on what you love
    Most of us who are creatives or otherwise self-employed are working on a passion project, something we want to see in this world and hope we’re the right person to make it work.

    We’re clearly doing it for something other than the money.
  3. Decide on your own tasking
    At a 9-to-5, you might get to pick between project A and project B, or even propose project C and have the company decide to go for it. But usually? They tell you to jump and you ask, “how high.”

    When you’re in charge, you can decide project A is boring and switch to project B. And if that gets stuck, take a break and work on project C.

    You’re the creative spark, the final say on what your finished project: your art, your story, your product — whatever you’re working on looks like. You get to decide when it’s done.
  4. Deadlines are what you make of them
    (Well, until you’re under contract. But even then, sometimes they can be flexible.) If you’re not happy with your work, you can pull it apart and start new.
  5. Set your own hours
    Plus? You get to work when you feel you’re most productive.

    Okay, this is often a lie. You get to work when you can fit it in around life. But if you’re doing this INSTEAD of a 9-to-5, instead of alongside it, your schedule can be more flexible.
  6. The successes are all yours
    When/if you hit it big, all the profit/fame/whatever is yours. You’ll know that you made it on your own and all the external validation belongs to you.

Now, I do have a soft-spot for predictability and stability, I’m a bit of a homebody. But, that doesn’t mean I’m afraid to take chances.

These days? I’m working both gigs: one by day for pay, and by night to write. But, I’m never going to be the one to say that the 9-to-5 is the wrong choice for you.


Do you work a 9-to-5, a creative/self-employment job, both, or neither?

Do you think bad management gives 9-to-5 a harsher rap than it deserves?