Op-ed of the day: Is part-time work the way to go?

Is it unnatural to work full-time? That’s the question that Ann Brenoff asks in The Huffington Post.

In her column she profiles Anya Strzemien, a 33-year-old editor who decided to take a sabbatical from the 40-hour week.

Once Strzemie applied the brakes to the pace of her job’s demands, it didn’t take her long to figure out this truism that a lot of midlifers still struggle with: Working in a part-time job, if you can afford it, is the way to go. It can be just as fulfilling and meaningful as the one that stakes a claim to your every waking hour. And, amazingly, she found, you can actually accomplish a great deal when you aren’t walking around fried all the time. “I really maximized the hours I did work so, for better or for worse, I was getting more bang for my buck work-wise,” she said.

Strzemien said that she created a genuine work-life balance, got outside, and felt less stressed. But is it really affordable? Brenoff argues that, for many of us, it is.

Truth is, we spend to our capacity. No matter how much I ever managed to earn, I managed to spend it. We adjust our lifestyles to our income level. It becomes a matter of learning to live on less. Fewer meals out in exchange for more meals around the dinner table with the family. Fewer surfing trips to Hawaii but having the energy and time to paddle out to watch the sunrise from your board off the beach that’s a half-mile away. Community college for our kids instead of the four-year alma mater that now takes six years to complete. And figuring out what’s seriously more important to you: Your health, your stress level, your happiness vs. your sense of self-importance that comes from responding to the boss’ text within 15 seconds.

What about you?

Read Brenoff’s column here.

  • Human Being 2013

    As a 36 year old Human Being I do not mind working 40 hours a week and I am a Preschool Teacher that spends time working with 3 and 4 year old children five days a week. Honestly I think for me as we get older the question is What kind of career does one want? How much money does one need to make? Do you need to support other Human Beings? Does one like working or like the job that he or she may be working. Despite the fact I maybe not maybe bringing big money i like my job as well as much as giving back to my community but once again before I worked a Teacher I was a working Human Being Frying burgers in Eau Claire Wisconsin. Not to mention I have always had a job since I was fourteen years old.

  • iloveadeal

    As the sandwich generation, I am a single parent of a 17 year old and have also have a 82 year old mother who lives near by. While both are very highly functioning, they still need my help and attention. I choose to reduce my work hours from 40+ to 32+ over 3 years ago and it has had a very positive impact on all of us. I now have the time and patience to enjoy being with them and still have time to physically keep active myself. This has provided much better balance in my life. While I am able to make personal choices to lesson the impact of the 20% wage decrease, I know I’m also very, very fortunate to have an employer that provides the same health insurance coverage to part time workers as full time workers – that was critical in my being able to make this choice. Many of my coworkers have this same opportunity but “just can’t afford it.” I’ve always tried to live at or below my means so I can make life choices like this when the opportunities arise.

  • Una Duckfoot

    Unfortunately, part of the ‘could I afford to work part time’ calculations is ‘can I afford to pay for my own insurance’. I started working full-time because the insurance I could afford as a part-time worker had a very high deductable.

  • From under the bus in Duluth

    Having been cheated out of my job at age 61 (was fulfilling the job description but they decided to consolidate my job with another, currently vacant, and I “didn’t qualify.”) So since then it has been PT work, 7 days a week and often 12-16 hrs covering 2 jobs in a day. (I had 7 W-2s last tax year.) Certainly not my preference at the traditional retirement age. You never really “belong” in a group of full-time people if you didn’t transition to PT from FT in the same place. Vacation is a meaningless concept since you don’t get paid for time off. I went without insurance and ended up having emergency surgery for which I may be paying the rest of my life despite the hospital’s generosity in halving the bill. The name of the life is “Stress.” (And the name of the budget is “Can’t”.) Oh, did I mention that the employer was a church?