Part-time work means I earn less, but I live more

May 1 2013 | Guest post by Anneke Van Dien
By: Tax CreditsCC BY 2.0

I never want a full-time job again. There. I've said it.

I'm not a lazy person. In fact, I love working. When I work, I work hard. I get shit done. But I've decided that having one job to go to every weekday, all the time, is just not for me.

Since I started working at sixteen, I could never get comfortable with typical working life. You rent yourself to someone so they can make a bunch of money. You go home drained every night, eat a quick dinner, watch some TV, then get up and do it again. Two weeks of the year, or three if you're lucky, your employer lets you free. You dread going back to the slog at the end of your sliver of time off. They expect total commitment, but can throw you out whenever they're done with you. It was sucking my soul. It made me sad.

But I did it for a long time. I had jobs I hated and jobs I liked. I had jobs that paid crap, and later jobs that paid better. I worked with people I hated and people I loved. But the feeling never changed. The feeling of being stuck in a life where I belonged more to my employer than to my own self.

Maybe I can't leave behind my teenage anarchist ways. Maybe I'm a beatnik stuck in the wrong time. Maybe I just can't hack it. Or maybe there is a better way for me.

So here's the plan. Work part-time. Always. Forever. I'll do two part-time jobs that will add up to full-time. One that brings in the bucks and one that I love — Photography, creative woodworking, art, small entrepreneurship? It'll give me the variety that I need to stay engaged. I've learned that I'm the kind of person who gets bored being in the same place, doing the same thing every day.

After having my son, it took me almost two years to find the right employer who'd let me work part-time in an industry that isn't used to women, especially working mothers, or part-timers. I now work three-to-four days a week and get to take care of my toddler the rest of the time. I save a fortune on daycare. At this point if I went back to work full-time, I'd actually make less because of the cost of full-time daycare.

There have been times I've been close to giving in and just going back to work full-time. It's been hard to find part-time work, and it's been nearly impossible to find quality part-time daycare. The world just isn't set up for this. But it is possible!

Yes, I'll probably make less money this way… unless I can make a success of whatever I do on the side. If I do end up making less, I can make up some of it by using less fuel for commuting, having time to prepare cheaper meals, and combing thrift stores instead of running to the big-box store because I'm crunched for time. I find that when I'm working too much, I bleed money because I can't keep up with life.

While my son is young, I'll use my extra time to see more of him. Later, I'll use the extra time to try to make money doing what I love. I'll work my ass off. But the difference is that on those days that are mine, I'll be working my ass off for ME.

Of course, when I need it, I'll use my days to read a book, help with school outings, take short trips, cook, volunteer, clean the house, educate myself, or go to the doctor or dentist without having to beg for time off.

Funny thing is, I actually feel more committed to my current part-time job now than when I worked full-time. It can be hard to keep up sometimes — I feel like I have to achieve the same amount in half the time. However, I don't feel so dragged out that I lose my motivation and start hating my job. It works out pretty well for my employer too. When it gets busy I put in a little more time, and when it's slow they don't have to keep me as busy as they would with a full-timer. I think they save a little on taxes and premiums as well.

Imagine the possibilities if more of us could get by working part-time, or could do some variation on the typical work week. (Four-days-a-week, ten-hour-a-day schedules are becoming popular among some companies and government agencies.) We could do important volunteer work. We could be politically active. Instead of eating pre-packaged food, we could participate in a community kitchen or tend our own gardens. Consume less, live more.

My decision, at least for now, is to sacrifice a little on the work side for a better life and a better me.

  1. YES!!! I LOVE THIS!

    I have felt exactly the same way about employment for about as long as I can remember. Most people seem to interpret that as my being lazy, but just as you wrote, I see it as a different ordering of priorities. I certainly haven't been able to articulate myself as well as you have.

    66 agree
    • People who see part-time work as laziness need to unplug themselves from the matrix! They're hypnotised by an outmoded and sad ideological hangover from the industrial era where humans were commoditised. The ideology was perpetuated in various guises one of which was the protestant ethic – that hard work is next to godliness. In reality, hard work within the system of paid employment is simply profit-making exploitation and in many cases is a corruption of the original purpose of work which is meant to meet the needs of the community, not line the pockets of businesspeople. I believe it is possible to find a balance between the social obligation to work, and the drive for individual expression.

      I’ve had to fight for it, but moving to 3 days of paid employment per week is easily the best thing I’ve ever done. I feel that the freedom to work towards one’s own goals is the greatest wealth. Put another way: Time is priceless. Once you have enough to ‘get by’, any more work than that is met with the law of diminishing returns. Bertrand Russell wrote a wry and engaging essay on the topic: “Is praise of idleness”. Worth the read.

      Might sound a bit commie/juvenile, but that's how I feel based on my experience!

      12 agree
  2. I tooootally felt this way about employment. Full-time gigs with set hours always made me feel claustrophobic. I hated the fact that I would have to miss out on awesome life experiences because I needed to go to work. I still regret all the things I missed — birthdays, vacations, holidays, time with friends, time with family members that have since passed — for a job that I can barely remember, doing a task that turned out to be completely unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

    69 agree
  3. Thank you so much for this post! I feel the same way about wasting my life in a 9-5 cubicle just because "that's what you do" (and never mind that everyone who says that also complains about it). I've been trying to build a freelance design business around a part-time design gig that I love. I love the freedom to work on so many new projects, never mind the time that I can set aside to work on my writing. And let's face it, making dinner for me and the boy, timing it for when he walks in the door, is pretty awesome.

    Unfortunately, I'm surrounded by 9-5er friends who scoff that the boy is carrying me financially, or laughing point out that they wish they didn't have to work like me. It makes me feel guilty: Am I contributing enough to our joint funding? Is the boy really okay with having less spending cash to throw around on weekends, or is he just saying that he is? Is it wrong of me to want to pursue a lifestyle instead of a career?

    I try to focus on the facts (instead of the opinions of others): We don't need to spend all that extra money on grocery shopping if I just go through the circulars. Unlike those friends, we don't have to coordinate vacation time in order to take a short trip, or a date day. We have a better relationship when we can spend time together doing things, instead of my just collapsing in front of the TV after a day of dealing with the drain of office politics and drama. And, to be frank, I'm more productive away from those sorts of office environments anyway; I get more done, in ALL of my pursuits, instead of being paid to look at tumblr and blogs all day.

    And yeah, that guilt is still a persistent issue, no matter how many upsides I can list, but knowing that I'm not the only one out there that has priorities other than climbing a career ladder helps. 🙂

    21 agree
    • Don't feel guilty- we're all just jealous (Though AEC workers work 8 to 5, so we're also jealous of 9-5ers). Get it! Design is hard! It comes randomly, it takes a specific set of talents, and if you stress too much, you burn out and have 'no talent left in your pinky' by Friday. Seriously, go you!

      3 agree
    • I think there is a lot to be said for questioning status quo, deciding where your own values lie, and then living in a way that represents those values. All of the things you mention in the last big paragraph are the benefits (mostly not financial) to doing what you've chosen.
      I envy you and I hope to grow a pair and start living in line with my own values soon!

      11 agree
  4. H- E-double hockey sticks-YES! I'm currently working full time for a very, very small company. And luckily, the owner is a work-to-live kinda person and not a live-to-work person. I have conversations with him all the time about how one of my life goals is to support myself with part time work. .. Now I just have to scheme enough to make full time money on part time hours..

    7 agree
  5. I would love to have some more time off work to pursue life stuff (even just the day-to-day chores). In the past few months, I've been working 4 days/week (still technically full-time) so that I can finish my degree in the other 3 days (and weekday evenings), and the flexibility of being able to accomplish errands during business hours has made me positively giddy!

    But the ongoing concern I have is how to manage healthcare/insurance without a full-time employer footing the bill. In a country with nationalized healthcare, those worries may not keep people from pursuing part-time-only work, but where I live it's the biggest obstacle — far above living on a smaller base salary or whether part-timing would hurt my career progression.

    20 agree
      • As a former long term Starbucks employee, I can vouch for this. You get full time benefits at only twenty hours for week. And not crappy benefits either- legit health insurance (I think I had to kick in $30 per paycheck for it), stocks, life insurance, the works. The only caveat is that you have to be with the company three months before your benefits kick in. Say what you will about Starbucks, but they take care of their employees, and I will always appreciate them for that.

        13 agree
    • If you don't mind physical work, check out UPS. I work four hours a night, five days a week and my insurance is free.

      7 agree
    • I'm in a state with required health insurance, and that means there is a ton of "lower-income" state health insurance providers…but you have to dig to find them. I currently pay my insurance costs out-of-pocket, and the only thing I'm missing is dental. I don't know your country's policies, but you should totally look into what "low income" options are out there. I'd be surprised if there weren't a few programs that you wouldn't need an employer to pay for.

      3 agree
    • This is entirely why I am still with the job I have and hate. I've been here for nearly three years and it's breaking me, but I need that health insurance. It's a real downer.

      I don't know how anyone lives (on their own) with part-time money, though. I work 40 hour weeks at under $11/hr and it still only just allows me comfort.

      9 agree
      • Exactly. If there were any minimizing that could've been done when I lived in the USA to go part-time, I would have. But there wasn't. My 40-hour workweek on a salary that came out to about $10/hour, in a major metro area, just kept me above water.

        All the "I want to reorder my priorities" in the world wouldn't have fixed that.

        8 agree
        • Exactly this. Unfortunately, with the bills I'm having to pay (student loan debt, agh) and the commute I have to make from my rural location to get to my (arguably also rural) job, there is no room to reorder my priorities, as much as I'd love to. I'm barely afloat with my full-time-with-benefits job – after taxes, insurance, etc., I make about $9/hour. Once bills come in, I'm left with about 16% of my total income to work with – I'd love to work part- time only, because this is really soul-sucking. But it's also just the way it is.

          9 agree
      • Don't feel bad….Health Insurance at my employer is super expensive ($2000 a month anyone?), so I haven't been able to get married…We've been putting it off and putting it off but I don't think there will be a time in the near future where we could afford that…

        2 agree
        • Can you consolidate into a family plan with your significant other? get a marriage certificate and then use the money you'd save to have the celebration later?

          3 agree
      • Fudge man…. I dunno how you guys do it over there…. you get paid fuck-all, and then you have to pay for doctors and uni and shit on top….

        Granted, Australia is one of the most highly taxed countries in the world, but we have good schools, hardly any out-of-pocket medical expenses (unless you wanna be picky about doctors), most medications are subsidised, most TAFE (tech-collage) courses are subsidised, we have the HECS (or I think it's called HELP now?) scheme for university where the government pays your fees, and then you pay it back in the form of a tax after you graduate, once you're earning over a certain threshold, and we have a minimum wage that actually earns you more than living on welfare: "Currently the full-time minimum wage is $16.37 per hour or $622.20 per week. Casuals covered by the national minimum wage get an extra 24% ($20.30 per hour)." -This is for anyone over 21.

        Most full-time employees get 4 weeks paid annual leave and 2 weeks paid sick leave per year (part-timers get 2 and 1) usually with around a 17% loading to make up for over-time that you might miss out on while you're on leave…

        Sometimes I feel a bit hard-done by cuz I don't earn as much as say my sister or my best friend…. but then I come on here and read what you guys put up with.

        having said that… I've worked mostly part time over the past 10 years, and have only been working full-time over the past 2, for myself, running a franchise. I've just been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and I'm now selling my business, I can't wait to get back to part time work so then I can do things like tending my vegetable garden and washing the dishes instead of working, eating whatever i can assemble for hubby and i in 10 minutes, and falling into bed (wash, rinse, repeat) 5 days a week, and then spending 2 days (if i'm lucky and don't have to run business-related errands on a monday) recovering on the couch, only to get up and do it all over again, while my house, garden and social life fall apart around me.

        8 agree
    • Yeah the health care thing could definitely be an issue. I just slip in the required number of hours to qualify for my plan. I don't know about the states but in Canada you can pay for your own insurance through Blue Cross (I know a lot of self employed people use them). As for retirement plans I just set up my own and contribute a small amount regularly and add more when I work more.

      1 agrees
    • Whole Foods too.

      Actually, TGI Friday's also offers it to wait staff, but you have to wait six months to get it. Their food might be terrible and I hated working in one of their airport locations, but they also do provide room for growth – many of their store managers and upper management started out as servers.

  6. I so agree… but ugh! I'm a slave to my student loans. When they end though, I am sooo switching to part-time!

    However, my husband and I feel the same way about business using people, so he started his own company with our best friend. All employees make minimum wage plus a percent of the profit. We have found the sole employee works a lot more happily and diligently and gets stuff done without needing to log hours (we only offered part-time employment, but for the extra effort, he feels he pulls in more from profit percent by putting in his own time).

    Businesses don't thrive without the little guys, but no one seems to give back to them really… it is so depressing!

    4 agree
    • Sorry- minimum wage here is what they make- minimally, which is above the current U.S. minimum wage.

      3 agree
    • Amid the sea of articles about what lazy, immature, failures we are, this is the most amazing article I have ever read. Thank you for sharing it!!

      8 agree
    • OMG! I was just going to post that! The original Medium Chill article by David Roberts (linked in the above article) is also excellent.

      Can't wait until the Millennials take over – societal priorities are gonna shift BIG time.

      3 agree
  7. Amen. 🙂 This resonates with me on several levels.

    First, I'm working four days a week at a job that I like. I don't love it, but if I need to earn the monies, I might as well do something I enjoy, right?

    Secondly, I have had a photography business since 2007 and even did it full time for a couple years. But honestly, running it full time meant I stressed about too much.

    A few weeks ago, I watched the documentary, "I'm Fine, Thanks". I recommend it wholeheartedly. It really looks at what we need to be happy in regards to our careers and living situations.

    4 agree
  8. This is exactly how I've always felt! (And been looked at weird because of it.) But I am having my first child in the Fall and this is my plan to the T. I will work 3 days a week (if my employer allows it) and have 4 days to myself and my new family. I know it will be a struggle for me and my husband, money-wise, but the benefits of bonding with my child and taking care of our home like I always wanted to far outweigh that. Now I just have to get over my fear of bringing it up to my employer…

    3 agree
    • I hear you. It is worth so much more to me to spend my days with my little one and have a chance to relax with my husband at night than it is to work long hours. Yeah, things are super tight and other big life dreams will take longer to happen, but I don't get a second chance at these days either! Good luck!

      3 agree
  9. I couldn't have said it better myself. This is exactly how I feel. But for now, I am working full time, commuting 5 days a week, and spending money out the ass because I don't have the energy/time to cook dinner, go to more than one store, or even go grocery shopping half the time.
    Such is this American life… I know it's that complacent attitude that gets people stuck in this reality, and I am determined to change it for myself. I just keep getting sucked into my own negativity and thinking that it's actually too hard to build a business, be self-employed, etc. I will prevail, and hopefully it's while my son is still young and wants to spend time with me. 🙂

    4 agree
  10. When I graduated from undergrad last year, I only had a part-time job set up. I thought about getting another job to help pay the bills, but the way this job works (with a campus ministry) I'm never quite sure when I'll be working or not, and the flexibility has proved to be a benefit. I'm able to survive financially because my roommates and I split the rent three ways, meaning I pay half of what I did my last year of undergrad. My roommates both also work part-time, though one is home more than me and the other less.
    Although it isn't fun being perpetually broke, it's a lot more fun than being perpetually tired. We have time to cook good meals, we spend a whole afternoon at the park when we want to, we sit out on our patio, drink tea, and read books for hours. In the last year, I taught myself calligraphy, started a garden on our patio, and wrote my first short story. That's not to say that I haven't also spent a lot of time watching Netflix, scrolling tumblr, and feeling bored, but learning the balance has been good for me.
    In August, I start grad school, and my monthly stipend from my fellowship will be three times what I make now. Of course, it comes with a price: between class and lab, I'll be on a 40-hour work week. On one hand, I'm looking forward to worrying less about money, but a part of me is also mourning the loss of my time. I'm trying to make the best of it until then, working on a novel and seeing a lot of the sun.

    6 agree
  11. Thank you so much for posting this. As a fellow part timer I feel I have to always follow "I work part time" with "but if I got a full time opportunity, I would take it." Nope, I wouldn't. Working part time allows me to concentrate on other things that make me happy: writing, scrap booking, reading books, spending time with my family – I could go on and on. I do miss the financial benefits of working full time but they do not outweigh the joys of having freedom to indulge my passions.

    8 agree
  12. I think it takes a lot of guts to really pursue what makes you happy. I was really lucky that I went straight to university when I left high school, studied something I loved (psychology) and have had great jobs that I love that pay me well, so I don't mind working full time. In saying that, if I could work 4 days a week for the same pay, I'd probably be less tired trying to cram everything else into my life. My partner recently gave up his job to go back to university and retrain in something he's passionate about, and when he's finished, we'll both have a lot more flexibility about working from home or working less hours (and I'll be making babies then, so that's good timing!).

    3 agree
  13. I made the switch to part time corporate work in 2006 when I cut down to 4 days a week. I took it even farther when I cut down to 3 days a week at the job I started in 2007.

    Then of course I screwed it all up by starting a small business. Now I work 7 days a week. *shakes a loving fist at the Empire*

    7 agree
  14. Boy! This article just threw me into a spin. This is EXACTLY what I have been thinking about my life. After getting married I kept having this thought that even though the people I work with are very nice and I have had great experiences, and paying off student debt is awesome – I have always wanted some time for me before we start a family.

    Not a lot of time – but maybe switch to a part time job and enjoy the things that sit on my mental wish list (i.e. finish my knitting projects, learn to play the piano, ride my bike). I am crossing my fingers that one day I will be able to do that. Thank you so much for this article!

    2 agree
  15. YES YES YES!!! I've also made these changes in my life and have never felt happier!! I work 20hrs a week and run a small massage/reflexology practice on the side. I will never be rich, I will have to save up for things but I have enough. My life finally feels like it's in balance, like I am finally being true to me!

    2 agree
  16. This is so funny, I just started a blog called "odd job sally" to address the people who work many part time or odd gigs to make ends meet instead of the 9 to 5 but have been having a hard time finding people willing to let me profile them – and here you all are saying "Hells yes, this is me!". My husband and I are currently reworking our schedules so we can BOTH work part time and BOTH take care of our ten month old. And we are both feeling way happier about it then the current he works all the time and I am at home all the time. We are broke as fuck but whatever- food is still on the table!

    7 agree
  17. "Maybe I can't leave behind my teenage anarchist ways. Maybe I'm a beatnik stuck in the wrong time. Maybe I just can't hack it."

    Or maybe we, as human beings, were meant to live a better, more meaningful way than slaving 40+hours a week to make money for someone else while our own hopes and homes and loves suffer for it? It's a hard, scary decision to make but it's also liberating. And once you start to really understand what it can be like to live a different way, you find it easy to give up non essential things in order to keep living that way. I run two small businesses, so technically I work more hours than I ever did as a corporate management slave, but it's on MY terms. And I will try my damnedest to NEVER go back to the way things were before. Kudos to you for doing what you need to do.

    26 agree
  18. It is such a relief to find that I am not the only person who feels this way! Working 40 hours a week has always felt so excessive and crushing…I was afraid that I'm just lazy. But really, I can't muster the motivation to devote so much of my time to slaving away for someone else and missing out on more fulfilling activities and quality time with family and friends in the meantime. I feel super validated just reading this. Thank you!

    8 agree
  19. Honestly, while I understand where all the pro-part time folks are coming from, I can't help but wonder if part of the issue is the feeling you're all expressing of being "owned" by your job or being part of the 9-5 "cubical slog."

    If that's what your job makes you feel, don't effing do it. If that means switching to a different full time job, great. If that means switching to a different part time job, great. If that means going back to school and learning how to make it as a car mechanic, DO IT. Life's too short to compartmentalize your life into "fun" and "work." Not all work sucks, and there are ways to get paid for nearly everything.

    3 agree
    • For me, it's that I really do not like giving 40 hours of my life/week to someone else. I have always loved my career, but giving that much time to goals I don't have control over? Not cool with it.

      So I don't think it's as easy as "I don't want to work 40hrs/wk doing TASK." (I love my career's TASKs.) For me it's more "I don't want to work 40hrs/wk doing TASK for someone else." Can't speak for anyone else, but it's a control issue.

      16 agree
    • I dunno, I'm a big believer in "There's ways to get paid to do almost anything" but that doesn't mean it's a reasonable amount. And some of those jobs are practically fulltime jobs just to get.

      Personally, I wish their was an exactly on this post. I'm pretty sure within the next year and a half I'm going to try to move down to a part-time and/or more fun job. My cubicle mates keep throwing me lines like "No other job is going to be this easy" but I'd argue the office culture (and the stronger office culture we're moving towards) makes the job not as easy as some part time work I could be doing.

      Though… I highly doubt any further jobs will be paid as well. It makes quitting hard. That, and feeling like I'd be throwing my 3-man department under the bus.

      1 agrees
      • "feeling like I'd be throwing my 3-man department under the bus."
        This is what made it hard for me to leave my last 2 full time jobs. It is hard. Its also hard to walk away and see everything you spent 3 years working on and building fall apart. But this gave me the motivation to start my own company so I don't have to watch that happen again. I also have taken a part time/ contractor job setup to spend more time with family and find a better balance in life. I am loving not 'throwing away my good years' to someone else. I was tired of missing everything because of a job i hated too!

        • Yeah, I'm planning on waiting out until at least after my wedding, and seeing how much money I can squirrel away in the next 6-8 months before I try my hand at something less corporate. We might even have hired someone new by then.

          Watching what I built crumble though… Well, if they crumble because they lost me, I'd be very surprised. If I left now, with the most experienced member planning on a month long vacation in a few more weeks though… That would make me a jerk.

    • Not everyone who wants to switch jobs can immediately do so. For me, I couldn't afford to go part-time, and couldn't find another job to replace the one I hated. "Don't effing do it" would have been useless advice to me at that time in my life, because I HAD to do it. I HAD to pay the bills and my new job search was going nowhere.

      The only way to get out was to work more hours, not less, and save money to move to Taiwan. I did that, clawed my way out of the "teaching kids' English for pennies" hole within a year, and finally built some semblance of career satisfaction…

      …but it still took a year of working that horrible job, and then another part-time job on top of it, to do that.

      Please consider those of us who are or have been in that situation when you say "then don't effing do it".

      9 agree
      • YES! Thanks you. "Don't effing do it" takes a lot of soul-searching, time, sacrifice, hard work, figuring out what TO do, etc. And if you're making good money, it can be easier to go part time for your sanity than to go back to near- minimum wage to start over in a new career. I call it "the golden shackles".

        3 agree
    • That control is definitely a big part of it for me – the less control i have over my schedule the more stressed I get. But it's also about having variety in the tasks I do and the environments I'm in. And that's hard to find in one job. I didn't mention it in the article but I am working on a career change, but changing careers is not easy, so part time is a good solution while I prepare to change careers and during the transition. But I think even with a dream job I would still want to work fewer than forty hours a week at least some of the time so I have time for life stuff and parenting stuff.

      2 agree
  20. I had spent my adult life working at crap jobs I hated just to get the bills paid, and spending more time having anxiety and fatigue from those jobs than actually living my life. After a divorce and moving back in with my parents and going back to college in my early 30's, I came to the startling conclusion that there had to be more to life than working my tuskas off to pay for the privilege of living. This was compounded by the fact that I met the man I wanted to share my life's adventure with, and I wanted to spend my time building a life with him, not working all the time and seeing him only two hours a day (while married).

    I had just quit a job after a month because I was spending more time at it than doing anything else in my life, and I really didn't fit in with what they wanted. Sure, it was heady finally getting a paycheck after three years of being unemployed, but I discovered that the pay was not worth the loss of my soul. I gained a lot for my well-being during those three years of being in school and not being owned by a business, and I intend to find something that will respect that. I want to focus on Quality of Life as opposed to losing my life to a job.

    As a result of this epiphany, I have scrawled on my huge message board in my room: "There is more to Life than paying taxes for the privilege of living. Make something out of Life so that when your life flashes before your eyes at death, you won't see yourself only at work."

    (And, really, do we want our final moments to be focused on what good little worker drones we were? I'd rather mine be about my own life's adventures.)

    10 agree
  21. I appreciate this essay because it shows me a perspective that I have not normally encountered. I'm in graduate school pursuing my PhD, and at first read my reaction was like, "how do you not get bored??" Because while I do occasionally despair being overworked and underpaid, the work I do is inherently interesting to me and I like being able to do it and it's at least part of what I want to do with my life. This is especially salient because I just finished up my tasks for the semester a few hours ago, and I'm already feeling restless with no sense of what to do with myself.

    And then I remember learning in an undergrad anthropology class that in a lot of subsistence cultures, people don't work more than maybe 4-6 hours a day tending crops, repairing their huts, etc, in order to meet their basic needs. So obviously they have more time for play and social relationships, and that's so enviable compared to the standards of Western society.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I don't necessarily agree with this perspective on a personal level (I would not adopt this approach myself), I do appreciate that there are people challenging the conventional way of doing things! 🙂

    6 agree
    • I don't get bored because I'm fucking BUSY. Working part-time does not mean i'm sitting on my ass part of the time. It's about priorities, and changing my perspective on what work means. Just because it doesn't pay doesn't mean it's not work. Specifically for me I'm talking about childcare, but for others it could mean the housework, tending the garden, volunteer work, writing, art, etc.

      12 agree
  22. This is really interesting to me, because I work part-time at a big box store. So many of you are saying "oh, it gives me so much more time for my life," and that hasn't been my experience at all. I've recently been promoted and with that comes more regular hours; before that, I had strange mixes of opening and closing shifts that made a regular sleep schedule impossible, plus the constant chance of having few hours and thus no money (or surprise 40 hour weeks). Those regular hours come with their own price, though. I get one weekday and every other weekend off, so every other week I work six days in a row (and yup, sometimes it's six full eight and a half hour shifts). There's also how draining mass retail is in general, leaving me watching TV and eating whatever's convenient (hello,. I'm only just starting to figure out how to find time for me with my part-time job.

    4 agree
    • I feel similarly. I feel so much more FREE now that I'm working 4o hours a week, rather than studying and working part time.

      2 agree
    • I agree with that wholeheartedly; when you don't have a regular schedule you can't plan anything in advance or get into a regular rhythm with sleep, count on a certain amount in your paycheck each month, etc. HOWEVER, I was able to swap my slightly-more-pay-per-hour job for one within the same company that is still part time but has consistent hours, and it is the BEST. THING. EVAR.

      Whenever anyone asks me what I like best about my job, I tell them, "Regular hours!" 🙂 But I have gotten so used to being part time that 40 hours a week would be a big adjustment at this point. My husband currently works two part-time jobs (also with regular hours) which puts his total working hours closer to 40, but he gets a break between them in the middle of the day so we can hang out and have lunch together, which is really nice.

      2 agree
  23. oMG this!!!!!! From a fellow bc mama who is trying to do the same. You nailed exactly how I have been feeling particularly the last year. I wish there were more options for people who want to work less (and not end up in a crappy $8 hr job). My field doesn't really support less hours but I am making it work for at least the next 3 months using vacation time so I am 4 days per week.

    • I thought that my field would not accommodate fewer hours, but once I tried I found a company willing to make it work. I think I'm lucky to be in BC where there is s
      a huge shortage of labour for what I do.

  24. I wish I could've done this in the USA, but where I lived (the DC metro area) it was just not possible. I needed to work full-time, whether that was hourly or salaried, just to make rent & bills (no car, no cable, no landline – back when people still had landlines, no new computer despite really needing one), and it barely supported me. I lived on inexpensive produce, rice & legumes with few occasional treats and "weekends out" were "I can afford one beer" or "entree but nothing else" events. I had fairly cheap rent, and as such, a very long commute. Basically, there was nowhere to cut to minimize my lifestyle…I just about made ends meet with some savings, and that was working full time.

    So…part time would've been a pipe dream. Not possible. That would have just about paid my rent and food costs, and nothing else.

    And that's sad – in a world where one full time job barely supports one person, how are families supposed to figure out what works for them when they have to support more people than there are jobs? How are people with obligations (think caretaker or single parent) or health issues supposed to have any job at all that supports them? It's sad that we don't have a system in which a full time job can support a small family, and a part-time job can support one person. So many of us have to work ourselves to the bone just to make ends meet.

    I now have something more akin to a part-time job, because living in Taiwan with permanent residency (no more visa issues! Yay!) I can afford to do that. It's opened up so much for me in terms of cultural experiences and hobbies…the upside is a pretty good lifestyle on pretty minimal hours (and we have socialized health insurance over here…ha haaaa). The downside is that it's hourly, so no paid vacation.

    5 agree
  25. The reduced work load is one reason I stay at my current job although there are similar jobs where I could make twice as much – plus I love the topic I am working on and the colleagues.

  26. THIS!!! All of this. Thank you for putting my thoughts and frustrations in words! I love you!

    1 agrees
  27. My senior year of college was heaven. I "worked" at my classes Monday – Thursday, cleaned my house Friday (I can't relax if it's not tidy) and had the weekend for living!

    I miss that. I feel like I am constantly rushing now. Never caught up. And I feel guilty when I sit down to read!

    Perhaps I will bring up the idea of 4 – 10hr days to my boss. Thanks for the convo guys!

    1 agrees
  28. YES!

    I went from crisis counseling while pregnant (and with a newborn-8 month old) which is virtually a 24/7 business to a 4 day work schedule that splits between teaching a college class 2 days a week (9-4) and advising college students (8-4:30). I have Fridays and 2 months in the summer off, as well as a negotiated Winter Break. It's amazing. I feel so refreshed and able to spend time with my son, afford daycare, enjoy my breaks, and put in a lot of energy to work when I'm there!

  29. This resonates with me, even though my situation is different. I've never been an employee except for training gigs in college, I've always been self-employed and LOVING the shit out of it.

    But as much as I love what I do, it can be hard to simply say "stop" and have a normal full-time activity, rather than a 60-hours-a-week-activity.

    This year, I decided to work better: to choose better jobs, which usually means better clients, with better deadlines and a better wage in the end. This way, I still work full-time, but a mere 40-hours-a-week full time, and I have improved my quality of life. This means not being stressed out all the time, having time to cook healthy meals, spend quality time with my husband or give my time for others. Of course, there are times when being self-employed is tough and you don't get to choose your jobs at all, you just have to earn something so you can eat and pay the mortgage. But most of the time, I find that working less means living more, and I'm glad I understood that.

    1 agrees
  30. I totally agree with you. I had a part time job as an after school teacher. And I taught drama and various clubs. I also put on school plays and I loved it. I felt totally fullfilled, but I had to quit and get a full time job to pay the bills. I also love my being a pt hair stylist. I love being my own boss, but I have to keep my ft job to pay the bills…

  31. I work part time and I love it! I am a ICU nurse and I work Friday/Saturday nights. We don't have to worry about child care, since my husband would be home Saturday/Sunday anyway. I have worked full time (3 12 hour shifts) and it is so draining, plus the fact that it requires we have to put our kids in day care. I'm pretty committed to working part time, at least until the kids are in school full time. I love it!

    2 agree
  32. I love the idea of working part-time but anything less than a full-time salary wouldn't make ends meet. I see how it can work well with a partner also working, but as a single person living in an expensive region of the country, part-time is a pipe dream for me.

  33. After being made redundant twice (and narrowly missing a third time) i'm trying to work for myself and its so refreshing. Hard to not be doing the 9-5.30 and getting a regular pay check but so much better for me physically and mentally. Its a scary leap to take to make the change, being pushed helped but it is possible.
    Little things like working in my garden and having veg growing to help feed us not only helps save money but helps keep me fitter and healthier than slouching behind a desk all day. £35 a month saved on gym membership and money saved off our food bill too. 🙂

    1 agrees
  34. Totally get this! I quick my full-time job a few months back, it was with a non-profit that did good work, but it was completely wearing me out and left me burn out and with no energy left for what was really important. When I started having panic attacks about going to work, I knew it was time to go. I temped for a while, and now have a contract part time job that gets me out at noon, they're flexible about me taking time off, and so I can focus more on building my music career, which has always been my goal. The idea of being stuck in an office again all day doing something I wasn't meant to be doing just makes me feel ill. I have to give credit to my husband, who is amazingly supportive and without whose income and health insurance I'm not sure how we would manage. I feel really luckily that I'm able to be doing what I'm doing.

  35. I have been working part-time since graduating from university for this exact reason and I have no intention of ever being employed full-time. I've found it very difficult in 'real life' to find other people who feel this way (or who realise that it's ok to feel this way and that it IS possible to survive on a part-time salary!).

    In fact, from the end of this month, I'm halving my employed hours (from 28 to 14) so that I can put more time into my new self-employed business. I can't wait!

    1 agrees
  36. I agree. I just made the decision to go back to school full-time so that my dream of working half-time for an employer and half-time for myself can be realized. The more I am in my job, the more I realize the workplace in the U.S. is still a horribly misogynistic place. Even though I work in finance, most of my co-workers refer to me as the "secretary." I have a co-worker who thinks it's totally okay to fly off the handle and start yelling at me. I reported him to my supervisor as well as the head of our department. The first thing I was asked was, "Well, what did you do?" I'm not even fucking joking. I can completely understand why people opt out of the workplace; by in large the demands placed on workers are unreasonable, especially in contrast with the actual benefits we reap. And let's be honest; if you're a woman in America, you're pretty much going to be treated like a novelty or pity-hire, regardless of your level of competence. So why should we even bother putting up with that? We should just go into business for ourselves and save ourselves the aggravation.

    2 agree
  37. Interesting. I just went back to work on a full-time but temporary basis. I get health insurance through my husband's work, so right now I'm getting a paycheck till summer, when I've told my temp agency I'm done. In the fall I'll see what I feel like then – but frankly, if I don't have to work for benes, there's no real reason for me to take a permanent job unless I really feel like it. It'd have to be really effing awesome to make it worth giving up summers with the kids.

  38. I have done the life sucking full time 40-80 hour work week thing… It seemed like work was my life.
    Then I started working as a server in a fine dining restaurant, and found I could make the same kind of money working 25-30 hours a week, more some times and less some other times of the year.
    It's so fulfilling to have more time for my life.
    I save so much money not having to spend hundreds of dollars on work clothes or bringing lunches (or eating out)….

    I have the freedom to travel often and take days off whenever I need them. I'm love that my schedule is different all the time. I like working nights some times and days sometimes. I have the freedom to write and take classes and do yoga and spend more time on me!

    I also work occasionally as a performer, which I would hate to do full time, it would suck the fun out of it for me, but it's a great side gig. I also teach workshops and do energy healing on the side.

    I am planning on being self employed one day, teaching classes and writing full time, but I am letting that happen slowly, naturally so the transition is as painless and gracefull as can be.



    2 agree
  39. I think the pressure to not only work full time, but to have a desire to do it and also enjoy it, is just another example of unreasonable expectations being placed on women. The expectation that women "do it all" and like it is, in my opinion, just as damaging as the retro expectation that women just throw in the towel and become stay-at-home moms/wives and like it. I of course realize that not everyone has the option to be so flexible with their career, but for those of us who do, choosing to have priorities that rank higher than our career shouldn't be something we have to sheepishly admit to like it's some kind of "strike" against our feminism or whatever. The last thing on earth that women need is one more thing to have to feel socially guilty about!

    My motto is work to live; don't live to work. I don't think that makes me (or anyone) lazy/immature/weak/etc. Live your life, and own it with pride 🙂

    2 agree
  40. Yes! I recently went down to part time. This country does not value a work life balance. I enjoy life more with more free time and less money than I do with less free time and more money. I get to spend time with my husband and daughter, pursue personal interests and really do the things that make life worth living!

    2 agree
  41. This post means so much to me. Thank you! As an actress I need a job that has a good deal of flexibility in order to allow for my ever changing theater schedule. Some of my acting gigs pay, some do not. While it would be ideal to make a decent income on performing alone, that is not why I do it. Consequently I tend toward more part time or seasonal jobs, and lately I have started feeling a little guilty about that choice. Am I being naive or spoiled to forgo a "real," "adult" job in order to pursue my art? Is it irresponsible? Or am I simply daring and choosing to a less traditional live life on my terms so that I may live more fully? I have no aspirations to be famous from acting, so its not likely I will ever "make it big" in New York and be able to quit my "day job" for good, but when I manage to shut out the world of "9 to 5ers" showing or telling me what a job or career and being an adult is "supposed" to look like, I'm actually quite content with my lot in life.

    I will not lie. There is a lucky set of circumstances that have given me the opportunity to afford the way of life I'm settling into, and I don't have to pinch pennies as much as others might have to due to luxuries of my past and a few still in my present. I still work hard, however, and sometimes have to take a break from theater every now and then to earn a little more cash to keep myself afloat…but to hear all these stories about maintaining only part-time regular work is quite validating and encouraging. Thank you.

  42. This echoes one of the reasons I've considered staying a substitute teacher forever, the freedom and ability to just leave work when you need to, take a day off if it's required, it is so freeing and makes me feel in charge of my own life.

  43. I love this! I'm 20 years old and have been working full time for a little more than two years now, and I feel exactly the same as you do! My only problem now is figuring out where to find two good part time jobs so that I can enjoy life a little more, have a little more variety, and still be able to survive. It's not an easy search, but I'm excited to see what I find! I dread working in the same thing every day for the rest of my life so much that I think I would rather die than have to live the typical life. At least with part two part time jobs the days won't be such a drag, although I'm not expecting it to be easy. If anyone has any advice on this topic, I would gladly take it 🙂

  44. I have felt the exact same way as you since graduating 5 years ago. I hate working 40 hours a week! I started doing an awful HR job, stressing myself out while contributing nothing to the world. I took a big risk and paycut and began working with children in museums. Enjoy my job very much BUT…I still don't want to give 5 days out of every 7 day week to doing something I'd rather not, or something I don't have a choice over. So come January 2015 I will be going down to 3 (4 days every other week)…This has admittedly been made possible by some inheritance I received, which has allowed me to purchase a small cottage in the countryside with a small mortgage. But it's my mission in life to make sure I and my girlfriend, and our future children, live our lives by our own terms as best possible.

  45. My fiancé works part time and I work full time. Some people think it's weird because typical gender roles are swapped (barf) but it works for us and we've always split bills 50/50.

    Honestly I'm a little jealous. I hate office life, and I would much rather do a bunch of other smaller jobs. Like teach summer camp and freelance. Even working at the coffee shop down the street to fill the gaps would be better than sitting in a box for 8 hours.

    1 agrees
  46. I can identify with this pretty well even though I do currently work full time. I work 4 days with longer hours (which I don't mind, and the 2 hour lunches are nicer than I thought they'd be!). It's kind of amazing the difference a 3 day weekend makes compared to a 2 day weekend. I often don't do much with that extra day, but the day is MINE, and I can do whatever I want with it. Meanwhile, I still make enough money to pay all the bills with a little bit extra for the occasional fun thing. It would especially be great if my husband could get a job with a similar schedule once he gets out of school

  47. I completely agree…after working full time for nearly 20 years, I was affected by a layoff…and I cannot fathom going back to work full time again. A few of the normal concerns do not exist (health/dental insurance through my husband, easily covering the bills with pt income and my "side business"…which is rapidly becoming closer to ft work), thankfully. And my severance is a great buffer in case I ever find the need to look for a ft job…of course, I would rather spend it on a new roof and vacation, but time will tell. 🙂
    my stress level is much lower, I have time to take care of myself (once I make that a priority), and I love spending time in the home we bought while I still had a job. ..luckily we closed before the layoff, as the mortgage is completely under my name.
    The new schedule works better for my physiology (I have always been a night owl), and I enjoy my freedom. 🙂

  48. Hey, I love this article! I totally agree. When I worked full-time, I always felt crappy – like something was wrong. Then I finally realized it's cause I felt like I was "owned" by the company. I had too many times of missing important occasions because of a job I didn't even like. When I missed my dad's 60th birthday because I had to work, I finally realized enough is enough. I'm applying for part-time work now so I can do the things I love to do, on the side. Most people I know who say you need a full-time job to earn enough money, just spend that money on ways to de-stress from their job 🙂 I love that more and more people are waking up to the fact that life doesn't have to be the way we've been told it does, i.e.: get degree, get job, buy house, climb corporate ladder, live a life of stress and being tied to your mortgage, retire, die. I'm looking for another way that doesn't involve sleepwalking my way to death! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story.

    1 agrees
  49. I accepted a part-time staff, or permanent, position because it was available and more secure than having casual or temporary status … plus I get the same hourly rate as the full-timers, benefits and a reduced pension. The downside is I'm expected to work every weekend and fill in when others want time off. I can get paid vacation time, so I use that to take six weekends off each year. I average three or four days a week. On the plus side, they have to schedule me at least two days each week and I can say no to the extra work. When the extra work dries up, I weigh the whole time-versus-money thing and finally, now, time always win. My ego is not involved and I don't care what others think. I am around to support my husband and kids and pick up the slack at home. My son once said most people are working to earn their freedom. How sad, but true. When I'm close to retirement age I want to scale back to two days a week and really get out there and live.

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