Thursday, June 19, 2008

Work-Life Balance

It's been a week since I posted here. I've never had such a long break from posting except when I was away on holiday. I've taken on a lot more work - 50% more, at least until October. It's more money as well, and that's nice but it's not the reason I'm doing it. I'm a university lecturer and some students found themselves without a tutor half way through the course, so I stepped in to fill the breach. I enjoy my job and I'm glad to be able to support these students. But the extra work is a burden and it has reminded me why I don't normally work so much - it messes up my work-life balance.

I work part-time, mostly from home although every couple of weeks I give a face-to-face tutorial in Liverpool or Manchester. I don't need a childminder or any child-care because I can take my kids to school and pick them up and be with them during the holidays. I reckon I'm as financially well off as if I worked full-time and paid for child-care, so I'm not at all tempted to go full time. If I want to spend some time on the allotment on a sunny day I can, because I can do my marking in the evening or at the weekend instead. I can go to my bees when I need to, or spend the afternoon making jam. I can do my shopping on a weekday morning instead of Friday night or Saturday when the shops are a crush. I feel very lucky.

There are disadvantages. It can be rather lonely. It isn't the glittering career I once dreamed of, it's much more humdrum than that. And because I don't have a clear division between work and not-work, I don't ever quite feel "off duty". When Ed comes home from work and kicks off his shoes, I can see the work stress fall off him. But I still have the dinner to make, some laundry to fold, and I might be planning to mark 6 essays after dinner.

On the other hand, I don't have work stress that I need to escape from. I remember that stress from when I used to work full time and I don't miss it one bit. It eats your soul.

I'm glad I took on this extra work. I'm glad to be able to help the students. The extra money will be nice for a while. But mainly I'm glad because it helped me realise why I don't usually work this hard.

17 comments:

k425 said...

Well, if you find yourself in Mcr and have time for lunch, give me a call (0161 306 3456 is my work number) and we can try to arrange something! There's a lovely wholefood restaurant between UoM and MMU.

Anonymous said...

The work-life balance can be hard to juggle sometimes. I'm taking on more work because we do need the extra money. It is an additional part time postition but it has flexibility and that to me is the best type of job. Like you said you can work in the garden on a sunny day and work later, or work from home some when you need to. I do agree that it is hard to shake off the feeling you when you never "leave" the job but it has it own rewards. I agree full-time work is not for me!
CLM

Melanie Rimmer said...

Oh yeah Linz (k425 - I recognise you!). Do you mean the Eighth Day? It's one of my favourite places to eat, Maybe we should have lunch there sometime and I could write a review.

Yellow said...

I had wondered where you'd dissapeared to. Now I know you've been hunched over the laptop, drinking tea and muttering to yourself.

Melanie Rimmer said...

You know me so well, Yellow!

k425 said...

Sorry, I should sign myself properly! Yes, it's 8th Day I referred to - I spend far too much money there!

Linz

neil said...

k425 - did you want everyone on the internet to have your phone number though?

Work life balance is important. Or since I know some people ahte that phrase - not losing track of your real life and why you do work.

I do find myself logged into work when I am at home sometimes, but this is probably a fair exchange for some of the shorter days :)

It's such a shame that these days it is considered essential to have two incomes. So many pressures / incentives to earn more money and spend more.

Stonehead said...

It's fascinating how few people step back from the work treadmill to consider if it really makes financial sense to do what they're doing.

Four years ago, I was earning £21,200—which doesn't sound too bad. But, after tax and once I'd factored in the cost of child care and commuting, I was clearing £10 a month. I was also expected to do at least a 45-hour week and was spending 10 hours a week commuting.

It didn't leave much time with the boys and made working the croft difficult.

I was considering leaving anyway, but when childcare costs rose and family tax credits dropped I suddenly found myself spending savings to go to work! I quit and haven't looked back.

With childcare and fuel costs having risen dramatically since then, while salaries in the job I was doing staying static in real terms, I'd have to be earning £27,000-28,000 now to start inching ahead.

Or I can work the croft full-time, scrape a little cash and produce most of our food, and spend a huge amount of time with our boys. No choice to be made!

scarlet said...

Sometimes I feel I should be earning more money and feel guilty that we're always strapped for cash. But recently we were talking about what I do when I'm at home and realised that I'm saving us money on a daily basis, so it really doesn't make sense to go to work full time... for instance, I can spend the day plumbing-in the bathroom, whereas a friend up the road recently paid a plumber 800 euros to do something similar. How long would I have to work to earn that kind of money??...that's over 80 hours at the minimum wage! I save money all the time by making things that we would have to otherwise buy in shops... so in the end it evens out.

Peggy said...

Great post and really well written : )

I also remember the stress of full-time work. It not only eats your soul, but stress affects your body too.

Ishani said...

work life balance is quintessential these days. You might also be interested in reading this article on work life balance at http://outsorcerer.com/blog/?p=19

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