2 min read

3 kinds of time freedom

3 kinds of time freedom
Photo by Rachael Crowe / Unsplash

In Italy, I didn't start work until 3pm.

I went through my mornings and afternoons, unhurried. I slept until I was rested, always. I stepped leisurely through my morning routine - I'd run, shower and meditate with no regard for the time. My friend and I explored the city. Then we'd have a pleasant two-hour long lunch together. Finally, we'd get back home, and mentally prepare for an hour to start work at 3pm.

I still worked my 9 to 5 job, just phase-shifted to 3 to 11pm.

Now back in North America working 9 to 5 I feel time poor. It's an extreme but I think of the day I was scarfing down Sweetgreen between my meetings, ended up choking, and going to the ER. I didn't need to go to the ER, I quite overreacted - but it was certainly not the same as that leisurely two hour lunch in Europe.


What would you do with a year off from work? And a million dollars?

I went on a trip to the Catskills with friends this month and we asked the group this.

Most of us talked about traveling to other countries, or learning new skills. I wanted to learn to rap, sing, dance, and generally pursue a kpop trainee arc. Given the formulation of the question a number of people wanted to be pilots.

People's eyes lit up talking about all this.

Yet, they wouldn't be able to live out these fantasies until maybe the next time they're in between jobs.


If you didn't have to work at all, would you?

One couple I met in Mexico, both 28, were traveling until they couldn't anymore. They'd just started their trip, but if they spent under $50 a day most days, they could stretch their savings for a couple years.


There are three kinds of time freedom.

The first is the freedom to set your own working hours. This freedom you can achieve by freelancing, so this freedom is the most accessible.

The second is the freedom to shift time from work to leisure. This freedom you can achieve if you work for a large agency. If you want to go to Peru to study underwater basket weaving for 6 weeks, you can.

The third is the freedom to work very little. This freedom you can achieve from extreme frugality, automation (of a business), or investing.


There's pros and cons to the 9 to 5 job, and there's pros and cons to a more time-free lifestyle. (There are more cons to the latter than we might think of!)

Yet when I envision my dream life ten years from now, I always imagine a less busy life. I imagine a life where I can Be Here Now:

This is true mindfulness. Not continuing our daily meditation streak so we can calmly answer emails. But designing a life where we can Be Here Now. Where we can play in the sand, enjoy the surf, and not feel that we might be wasting some finite resource that must desperately be conserved.

- Nat Eliason

I wonder if I'll get there.


Inspiration for this piece: