How Part Time has helped me in life
Part time working has been the best career move I’ve ever made. This change was natural and made a lot of sense. But, I understand it’s hard to fathom for many people. Do I just sit around? Do I actually get anything done?
I wanted to expand on how I’m working now and why I believe it will be the next era of working.
I believe that in the coming decade, just as remote work has arisen this decade, part time work will become increasingly commonplace.
How I work now
Currently, I work 3 days per week. These days vary from client to client but are generally fixed.
The other 2 days a week I do voluntary work for charity.
My work is solely remote and centres around a few key clients. I also create SaaS products on the side.
Why I find part time work so great
Here’s the secret, you don’t need 35 hours a week to accomplish your work. Often it takes half that time. Parkinson’s law is real. By having 35 hours, “stuff” expands to fill that time. After all, if you’re a software engineer, how much time do you actually spend time coding verses planning meetings, catch ups, speaking with stakeholders and stand ups? In addition to this, the complexity of software nowadays means that it takes much longer to create new features and fix bugs.
Parkinson’s law still applies when it comes to part time working.
The difference is, less hours forces me to cut through the noise and focus on outputs. Let me break these down.
Cutting through the noise
Seen a calendar that looks like a losing Tetris game? I bet you have. Because everyone has this structure, people think nothing of adding another meeting.
By not working on some days, you can simply reject the meeting that you don’t work that day.
You can also ask questions - does this need to be a meeting? Do I personally need to attend?
That critical thinking greatly reduces the amount of distracting non-work that you’re part of.
Beyond meetings, it also prevents you from becoming a single point of failure. People get used to relying on you for answers and help if you’re around all the time. But, working part time pushes your team to work from documentation and share knowledge. Critically, it cuts down on you being constantly queried.
Focusing on outputs, not inputs
If you are contracted to work 35 hours a week, what is the incentive to work hard all of that time? Very little. Of course, you don’t want to miss deadlines. But people are used to scope creep and tickets taking longer than their allotted points. So what’s the harm if you slack off a bit? After all, Vouchercloud found that their office workers were “productive” for a mere 2 hours and 23 minutes per day.
Fewer hours mean a shift in mindset. My contracts are about deliverables within a set weekly timeframe. The spotlight is on what I’ve done, not time spent.
Overall, I’ve found working part time incredibly beneficial for both myself and my clients. It’s helped me reduce the amount of busy work, balance work and life, and importantly, makes things happen.