I’ve been asked recently if working part time has worked out. Am I working full-time hours but only getting paid for part-time work?
Thankfully, I can honestly report no. I work 30 hours a week and am compensated for 30 hours of work a week. I feel lucky being in this situation given the nature of my job. It helps that my work can be completed anywhere I have a computer and (typically) at any hour of the day. Unlike, say, working retail when you need to be available in person at given hours uninterrupted.
However, in the consulting world in particular, full-time work isn’t always viewed as capped at 40 hours a week. Before I switched to a part-time schedule, I’d often work over 40 hours because I had the time available in my life. There’s always more work that could be done.
I made the switch to part-time work once my children where born. My maternity leave drew the line in the sand between when I was full time to my new part-time status. I think this helped because my work duties were all delegated while I was on leave. When I came back, I just took on fewer projects.
How have I made it work over the last eight years? It comes down to a couple of factors.
- My employer is awesome. They embrace flexibility for all staff on when you work, as long as you get your projects done well, on time, and with high quality. If my clients remain pleased, my management is happy. This philosophy doesn’t eliminate the multiple meetings I have per day during normal working hours though.
- I am upfront with all of my teammates about my schedule. Every time I start a project or work with a new group of people, I share my schedule. My Outlook calendar reflects my working hours, and I block hours that I’m not free (like 4-5pm when I’m off work after the kids get home from school). This strategy has been key since March 2020 with the kids home with us 24/7 while my husband and I are trying to work simultaneously.
- I frequently say no. I work with several Type A individuals who like to help others and jump into new projects and initiatives. I’m like that too, and I always want to be doing more. However, on my part-time schedule, I just can’t say yes to everything. There’s only so much time available, and I have to make everything I commit to work within those hours. That’s why I have to turn down projects sometimes, even if I don’t really want to say no. If an effort doesn’t align with my annual corporate goals, then I’m more likely to pass on it. Saying no and drawing boundaries around my time is much harder to do than it sounds. I acknowledge that.
- I set boundaries. The other factors are related to how I set these boundaries, but that’s the crux of it. I set these boundaries with my teammates and myself. No one is going to tell me to stay to my 30 hours. Only I can enforce them. If I don’t respect them, no one else will either.
Now, that doesn’t mean that when I get to my 30th hour of work that I just log off for the week. Never. I will always deliver what I have promised to a client or team. However, I’m not going to take on an assignment unless I know how I’m going to fit it into my schedule.
It sounds easy, I know, and it’s not always straightforward. It is how I’ve made it work for me and our family though.