I started my job, like many people do, as a full-time worker. Then I had a baby, and when I returned from maternity leave I worked 4.5 days a week. When my childcare circumstances changed, I went down to four days a week.
Did my job get less demanding when I decreased my hours? Not a chance. If anything, it got more demanding. Nothing about my role changed, except that I had four days to do it in instead of five. Actually, I even agreed to take on some new tasks, because I like a challenge – even when it essentially means doing more work for less money.
Working late isn’t usually an option for me because of childcare, and I already start at 8am – getting in earlier would probably break me. I had no option but to figure out how to do my job during the hours I had available. Here are my tips for all the other part-timers out there who feel like they’re struggling to squeeze full-time roles into part-time hours:
1. Talk to your manager
It can be hard to admit that you’re struggling when you’re part time. Many part-timers are so grateful that their employers agreed to reduced hours that they don’t want to admit that they’re having a hard time making it work.
But don’t wait until the work piles up and the stress overwhelms you. You’re no good to your employer if you burn out. Go to them and say, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of stuff to do. Can we talk about which stuff is really important so I can concentrate on getting that done first?”
2. Remind people that you’re part time
There will always be that guy who keeps scheduling meetings or asking you to do things on days you don’t work. I haven’t worked on Fridays in six months, but people still say, “Hey, can you have this to me by Friday?”
Remind them politely that you work part time and ask if you can send them that report or having that meeting some other time. Usually it’s not a big deal if something has to wait another day or two.
And since I mentioned meetings…
3. Stop going to so many meetings
No one has time to waste on pointless meetings, but part-time workers’ time is even more limited.
Many office-based workers spend their days in meetings that stop them from doing their actual work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a meeting to discuss the conference call we had about the meeting the week before. Oh, and there’s no agenda. Do we need an agenda? Is someone taking notes?
When you get a meeting invite, ask yourself:
• Is this meeting really going to help me do my job?
• Will I have something useful to contribute?
• Do I have other tasks to do that are more important?
• Can I get through this meeting without wanting to gouge my eyes out with a spoon?
4. Put your phone away
If you can’t work longer, you have to work smarter. That means not checking your phone every 20 minutes to see how many people have liked your latest Facebook post. Stick that thing in your bag and don’t pick it up until lunch. Or if you need to do a poo. It’s perfectly acceptable to take your phone to the loo if you’re going to be in there for a while.
5. Believe in yourself
Look, you got this far because of your awesome experience and badass work ethic. Your employer agreed to let you work part time because they value you as an employee and don’t want to lose you. You didn’t reduce your skills when you reduced your hours.
You can do this.