4 lesser-known perks of having a day job

Twitter can be a dangerous place. I'm not massive on Twitter and I only follow a small handful of folk, most of whom are makers of some description.

This is a fantastic community for all sorts of reasons, but there is a big trap here: it's full of people quitting their day jobs to work for themselves.

Why is this a trap? Because quitting your day job is a big deal, and while it may sound sexy and exciting and freeing, it's certainly not for everyone.

If, like me, you occasionally experience the temptation of a life working for yourself, I'm here to remind you of a few perks of your day job you may have forgotten about.

It gives you structure

I'm terrible at waking up on time. When I was at university, I would frequently go to bed with every intention of going to my 9am lecture, only to snooze the alarm the next morning and miss the class.

This is because - at my university at least - there was no accountability. Nobody checked whether you attended lectures, so there were zero short-term consequences for missing them. And there was a simple excuse too: all lectures were recorded and uploaded, so I could at least pretend I'd watch it back later (I never did).

Having a job is different. It forces you into a schedule, because if you show up an hour late to work, you're in trouble. As a result, I have a really solid sleeping pattern. I automatically start to feel sleepy around 10pm. I'm always sound asleep by 11:30, and I wake up just before my alarm goes off at 6:30 the next day.

I could never maintain this pattern without my job. And I'd be less healthy as a result.

It's escapism

One of the feelings I get all the time is that I'm living two lives: the "work" life, and everything else. This may seem like a bad thing, but there is a more positive spin on the situation.

My non-work life is great, but not problem-free. My hobbies sometimes become sources of stress or worry. I have (seemingly endless) chores to think about.

But thankfully, my job gives me a significant chunk of time during which I have total permission to forget about everything else. "I can't do that right now; I'm working" is one of the most useful responses in a person's arsenal.

Similarly, a good day job will allow you to switch off as soon as your working hours finish. I'm very lucky in that, at 4pm almost every day, I can quit Slack and not open it again until the next working day.

This gives me the freedom to focus on whatever other stuff I want, without work hanging over me constantly.

If I worked for myself, then my entire life would be about work. There would be guilt associated with any time I wasn't spending building my business. Living two lives is weird, but, as Philip Larkin put it:

Try to be utterly schizoid about it all - using each personality as a refuge from the other.

It gives you total creative freedom for your side projects

I love side projects. And the reason I love them is that, because I have a reliable source of income from my job, I can spend my free time working on absolutely anything, without the additional constraint of, "this has to make money otherwise I won't be able to afford rent."

Would it be nice to make some additional income from a side project? Sure. But that pressure would be entirely self-inflicted and, more importantly, escapable.

This isn't only good for you, either. The world needs folks to build stuff in their spare time which doesn't make business sense. For example, I have a free app which I built as a useful tool for barbershop singers. It doesn't make any money, and I actually have to pay Apple £100 a year for a developer account to keep it available.

I was only able to build this app because I knew I didn't need to make money from it. It's a contribution to a community I belong to, and I hope people like it. Could I monetise it somehow, with ads or a subscription plan? Maybe. But I don't want to. That's not what it's about.

You learn

Working for yourself is, as many self-employed folks have attested to, lonely.

Lonely isn't inherently bad, but if you're still relatively young, you certainly haven't learned all there is to know about your industry. Having a job surrounds you with other folks from whom you can learn.

I'm not trying to talk you out of quitting your job here. But I've personally heard a lot of the other side recently, and I think balance is important here. There is a lot to like about having a job!

Of course, not all jobs are good jobs. If your job doesn't give you any of the above perks, maybe look for a job that will. It may not be easy to find, but great full-time work does exist, and can be a fantastic choice for many people.

Peter Bryant

Peter Bryant

York, UK