Reflections on 6 months of part time

For the last 6 months I’ve been part time at 70%, in pursuit of a bit of headspace and some work-life balance. This was part of Aberystwyth University’s “flexible working” scheme where you can apply for different hours for 6 months on a trial basis, so it was a relatively risk free way of experimenting with a little bit more free time.

Obviously, it’s not always possible to get work done in the time available (and some things – like open days or travel – I didn’t count because nobody bothers counting them). Generally I’ve tried to stick to my days off though, keeping track of my hours, and here I am at the end of the period owed just 4 days. This is a level of slippage I can deal with, and I’ll take those days here and there before term starts.

Did I get everything done at work? Well I’ve had to be a little less perfectionist than usual. I’ve tried to manage everything WRT teaching, admin and research, and my workload has been reduced a bit (no tutees). I do feel like I’m missing stuff and I am no longer on top of everything that goes on in the department, but that’s OK and also part of the point of being part time. I don’t actually have to do everything myself.

So that I didn’t let myself sit indoors messing about on the Internet for a day and a half every week, I set myself some “part time challenges”, because nothing says work-life-balance like a to-do list. I’ve been pretty good at this. On the list were some physical things – walk up a big hill (Cadair Idris), get fit enough to cycle home from town. I had to cycle up the back way (still not fit enough to cycle up Penglais Hill) but I have made it home from town on my bike.

Others were dorky, and these have already been reported on this blog as I built a retro games controller and a drum kit ball pit.

The remaining things on the list were creative; I wanted to paint a picture using watercolours as I’d never used them before, and a picture using acrylics because I’m out of practice. I also decided to teach myself Blender, which is a 3D modelling system. I’ve managed all of these except for Blender, and I think I’m going to give up on that. It’s a fiddly piece of software and I’m happier writing code than digging about in menus so if I get into computer graphics I’ll do it at a lower computational level.

Here’s one of the watercolours, which is a poster of things around Exmouth that my sister in law might like:

Here’s the acrylic which is as usual of Penglais woods:

The problem with that woodland picture is that the patch of pale pathway looks a bit like a ghostly sheep from a distance. I’m going to have to fix that.

I’ve found it quite enjoyable having the time to do things that aren’t work, and to do some dorky “almost work” things which I would otherwise not have had time for. So I’ve gone part time as a permanent measure. This means that in the future this blog’s readers (both of them) can expect more crap watercolours and daft electronics, and fewer conference reports.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on 6 months of part time

  1. I think the pale path looks like a boar throwing up! :-)

    I’ve been reviewing our flexible working policy as part of my latest audit of “HR & People Management”. I’d love to work part time, but need all the pension contributions I can manage for now, especially as my job is likely to disappear in April 2020 and I don’t know what options there will be in the new authority.

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