Time is relative for freelancers.
It is so relative that not even Albert Einstein himself can't give you a straight answer to this simple question. What seems to be the problem?
There's No Middle Ground In Freelance Industry To Be Found
Here's the thing. You either have freelancers who brag about how they can afford to work only a few hours a day tops or freelancers who complain about how they have to sit behind their computers from dusk till dawn. I didn't make a mistake here. We, the freelancers, are the nocturnal creatures by default. That's why it's from dusk till dawn and not the other way around.
Who are the blessed freelancers with the luxury of having to work no more than two or three hours per day to make it? Well, I met those rocket scientists. They really know their stuff. They either charge hundreds of dollars per working hour or they have additional sources of income. As simple as that.
I also met the freelance working class. The guys just like you and me, who keep the wheels of the freelance industry running. We aren't super-specialized and experienced in some extremely rare fields like the freelancers I mentioned before. We can be quickly and easily replaced. That's why keeping one eye on the clock while we work is the least of our worries.
Yeah, it's complicated.
Don't Give me 9-to-Five!
I have quite a few friends who work from 9-to-5. Now, based on what I've heard, you can simply forget about an 8-hour workday. That's no longer the case. The rules that once applied to our parents or grandparents are simply obsolete.
Quite often you're required to work until the work is done. Sometimes you don't get paid for all overtime working hours. My 9-to-5 friends don't even want to talk about the time they spend each day traveling to and from work. It's too painful for them. I really feel for them.
We live in the real (freelance) world that's not a fairy tale. More times than I can count, I had to work as a mean freelance machine. No "extracurricular activities," if you know what I mean my fellow freelancers. If you aren't sleeping, eating or taking a shower, then sure thing you are working around the clock.
The Good News - All Freelancers Are Footloose
Perhaps, I've been asking the wrong question all along. Who cares how long is your average workday when you can hit the pause button when it suits you? As a freelancer, you decide when and how long you are going to work. That's priceless. That's what the true freedom is all about, isn't it?
You are your own boss as a freelancer. So, if you want a day off or the whole week off, you don't have to ask anyone's permission. Today I may have to work 10, 12 or even 16 hours straight. But then, I won't get anywhere near my laptop for the next couple of days. You can't beat that feeling of the absolute freedom, can you?
So, what's my word of advice? Every now and then, you have to remind yourself that as a freelancer you are both timeless and limitless. How? Well, you take a hammer and you show all those clocks in your home who's the boss.
I remember that I read somewhere how "Sir Isaac Newton boiled his watch instead of the egg." I don't recall what he said or how he felt after he realized what he had done. If you're asking me, that was the right thing to do.