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How I Organize My Time: The Double 9-5 Framework

Jerry Zhang
Jerry Zhang
·

3 min read

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.Benjamin Franklin

People are surprised to learn that I wake up at 5am in the morning. My response to them is that I’m surprised they don’t.

There are numerous benefits to rising early, such as feeling better physically, thinking more clearly, and being more productive.

This is definitely easier said than done. My way of doing this consistently is what I like to call the Double 9-5 Framework, or the 9-5 9-5.

The Double 9-5 Framework

Work

You might be familiar with 9-5 as work hours. For 9am to 5pm, this is when I work. Obviously, this applies to only the weekdays that are not holidays. I don’t work weekends.

I do my best to contain my work within those hours. At 5pm, I cut myself off from work and simply stop. This helps me prioritize the things that absolutely need to get done vs the nice-to-haves.

If I know ahead of time that I absolutely need more time, I prefer to start my work day earlier and still keep the 5pm cutoff time.

Sleep

The other 9-5 is 9pm to 5am. This is when I sleep. This applies everyday, regardless of whether it’s a workday or not.

I choose to sleep at 9pm because at this hour, my mind honestly doesn’t work as well, and any time I spend awake will most likely be wasted.

On the flip side, my mind is extremely clear in the morning when there’s no one around to distract me. That’s why I wake up at 5am in the morning. Nobody else is awake at this hour, so I can have some peaceful hours purely to myself.

The Remaining 8 Hours

What about the other remaining 8 hours of the day I haven’t accounted for? How do I spend that time?

If you flip things around, you’ll notice that I still have 2 5-9s. This time is just as important because it needs to be spent well in order for the Double 9-5 Framework to work well.

Between Sleep and Work

The first 5-9 occurs after sleep and before work: 5am to 9am. This is the time in which I work for myself.

Engaging in my spirituality, maintaining my physical health, feeding myself brain food, working on a personal goal, and more.

For me, this is reading one chapter of the Bible and posting my reflections onto biblereadingdaily.com, exercising, reading, and working on my hobbies or mastery projects.

These activities really help me stay true to myself. Theoretically if I were to retire, I would spend more of my time doing these things. But I’m not there yet (still got a long way to go), but I don’t want to wait until I retire to start doing these things.

This is how I make time to do the things I’m interested in. These 4 hours of my day are the most precious.

Between Work and Sleep

The other 5-9 occurs after work and before sleep: 5pm to 9pm. This is my time to relax for the day and unwind.

I’ll cook dinner, maybe watch a movie, do some light reading, and socialize.

One of my favorite things to do is what I call a Walk & Talk. This is when I go outside to the park for a walk while talking to someone on the phone for anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. I kill two birds with one stone—exercise and socialize. I schedule these with people that I want to catch-up with. It’s a great way to keep in touch, and also works pretty well for someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.

Finally, I also use the last hour to close out my day and wind down my mind so I can enjoy a good night’s rest.

This is a Guideline, Not Law

My last letter in the Meyers-Briggs test is P, which stands for perceiving. This is in contrast to J, which stands for judging. At the end of the day, my inner core self is okay with going with the flow. I will still take advantage of the structured nature of a J, but P will win if the two are at odds.

For example, if I somehow violate my time boundaries, whether it’s sleeping later than 9pm or working past 5pm, I’ll note down why I went beyond the boundary and do better next time. No need to beat myself over it.

ProductivityTime Management

Jerry Zhang

Programmer, YouTuber, and amateur musician. I like to write too!