Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The bonbon myth

For more than twenty years after leaving school I worked full time, and for much of that time I was simultaneously doing part time university studies. All in all, it was an exhausting couple of decades! Therefore, when I opted to move to part time paid work (four days per week instead of five) almost ten years ago it was a relief. I didn't feel lazy or indolent, and didn't resent the fact that I'd given up 20% of my income in return for one extra day of leisure each week.

Almost immediately, my activities expanded to fit the time available. I took up new volunteer roles (to this day I have three regular volunteer 'jobs'), socialised more, undertook yet more study and developed new skills, cooked more, and watched more movies. I also found that appointments that had previously clashed with work  dental check-ups, haircuts, bike repairs, optometry appointments, GP visits  could usually be scheduled for my day off, making me more productive and focused on the days I was at the office. I'd like to gradually reduce my working hours further in coming years, though guess that will depend how amenable my employer is to the idea.

It is surprising how many people still express surprise that I work part time ('you're lucky!', they say), or assume that I lie around doing nothing on my day off. Neighbours ask if I'll be home to receive a package they want delivered. Friends ask if I can babysit their kids. Colleagues think I sit around eating bonbons, and express envy that I have a day off mid-week when they're still slogging away from Monday to Friday. May I set the record straight? My days off are usually packed from morning 'til night with meaningful activities, there are no bonbons ... and you, too, can work fewer days if you're willing to live more frugally.

As always, just my two cents' worth.

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