Hey, Part-Timer!

Hey, Part-Timer!

For various reasons, more and more of us are taking on at least two significant part-time roles, across the breadth of our life and work.

For some of us, combining multiple part-time roles feels like a necessity. For others, a ‘part-time’ lifestyle is a highly intentional choice.

Because there are 168 hours in a week, even if we spend 37.5 hours a week, in one main paid or unpaid role - we're also doing lots of other things with our time.

On one level, we’re all part-timers.

Portfolio Life

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post titled ‘Portfolio Life.’ Originally coined by Charles Handy, the concept of ‘Portfolio Life’ is based on the idea that the way we spend our time is made up of "a portfolio of activities - some we do for money, some for interest, some for pleasure, some for a cause... the different bits fit together to form a balanced whole greater than the parts."

Without getting sidetracked by whether 'balance' is a myth, there's plenty of food for thought here.

As anyone who has worked 'part-time' will tell you - part-time work offers some attractive opportunities - and particular challenges…


Working part-time may give us the opportunity to to work less hours - or the same hours more flexibly. We might want or need to combine one or more part-time roles with:

  • Caring responsibilities (eg. for children, grandchildren or parents.)

  • Volunteering (eg with a charity, or ministry.)

  • Education or Training (eg. studying as part of your ongoing development for a current role, or a future path into something different.)

  • Other interests and priorities (eg. time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies - and some necessary investment in our health and wellbeing.)

We all have different and changing overall capacities, which can shift over time, with age, health and other factors - and under these circumstances, part-time roles can play a vital, life-giving part, in a whole life picture.

Combining part-time roles can be highly attractive, especially where you are able to build a portfolio of activities that enable you to live sustainably - in a way that is well-aligned with your wider sense of vocation, vision and values.

What we were ‘made for’, is not always what we’re paid for.

However, if the idea of building a 'portfolio life' is sounding positively dreamy - know that it's sometimes not without some real challenges.


Some of the issues associated with working part-time - both for employed workers and volunteers - (and for those who lead and manage them!) include:

  • Time & Diary Management - eg. How to leverage the time you spend on something well - and use chunks and pockets of time efficiently and effectively.

  • Expectation Management - eg. not expecting people to do a 'full-time' role in part-time hours - and/or for part time pay.

  • Maintaining Healthy Boundaries - eg. “I know you're not working today, but could you just...”

  • Managing Energy and Wellbeing - eg. not burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, until you burn out (see points above!)

  • Personal Financial Management - eg. balancing any need to earn a sustainable income with other priorities (and perhaps also, how to make less money go further?!)

Learning to work part-time, wholeheartedly

In a world where the term ‘part-timer’ has sometimes been used as an insult (and sometimes, not entirely, without some cause…) - how can we make ‘part-time’ work better; both for ourselves - and those we serve?

Want to join the conversation?

If you're working part-time, in a paid or unpaid role (or you lead or manage people who do) I'd love to hear from you. It’d be great to can open this up - and share our own challenges, wisdom - and learning.

What are the biggest challenges you (or your people) face, when it comes to working part-time?

Drop me an email at: sarah@awaycoaching.com - or come and join me over on Twitter.


© 2019 Sarah Phillips, Away Coaching. All rights reserved. May be shared freely - please retain contact details: www.awaycoaching.com

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