I work part time from home, which has it's positives and certainly it's challenges. Lately, I've been thinking about the differences between working full time and part time. I've come to realise it's not just about the physical hours you put in, there is a mental or ‘thinking’ component that has to be considered. My biggest challenge as a 'full time mum' and a 'part time business owner' is that full time and part time add up to more than 100%. Kind of like a half of this, half of that and half of something else is 3 halves...which is mathematically impossible. That's what my life feels like sometime....mathematically impossible.
I don't know if I have the answers for anyone else who is in this position. My message is more to be aware that the reason you may feel incredibly stretched is because you are! You may think just because you're working 'part time', you must have extra hours in the day to do other things, but the truth is, the extra hours you may have are used thinking about your 'part time' work.
I used to work part time - 3 days in the office. The challenge was that in my 3 days of work, I had to 'make up' for the 2 days I was not in the office and consequently, had to work much harder in my 3 days than someone working full time would with their 3 days. Many times, I was trying to squeeze a full time job into 3 days and calling it part time work. And, if you're like me, probably getting paid for only 3 days a work...but happy to find a position that was flexible and offered a balance. You can see that this is not a sustainable work life balance.
Now that I work from home, I find that it even more difficult drawing the line between working at my job, and working as a mum, wife and household manager etc. When I'm not working, I'm thinking about what I will do when I do sit down to work. I know that the minute I sit down at my desk the clock starts ticking and every minute (literally) is valuable. If I have to jump up for some reason, my thinking goes with it. When I 'clock off' at 3pm for school pickup, I continue to think, strategise and work out things in my mind...in essence, I'm still working, if only just thinking. Can you get paid just to think?
As I said, I don't have all the answers, but when negotiating your time whether in regards to flex hours, or setting your own hours, you need to take into consideration the time spent mentally preparing to work, so that the time you do have actually working provides the most value.
Lisa Cumes has been working as a Virtual Assistant for over 5 years with clients in Australia and world-wide. She is the Director of Empower Executives, a company that provides Virtual Assistant services, and Virtual Assistant placement. Lisa lives in Sydney with her 3 small children and husband. Find out more about Virtual Assistants at www.EmpowerExecutives.com.au