life Work

TIRED / “Part Time” / ETC

October 18, 2022

Tired today. And still feeling the transition/growing pains I discussed last week.

It’s so funny – 10/1 I went part time. I’ve already received one smaller paycheck (though it wasn’t that much smaller because the pay period was partially in September when I was full time).

It’s 10/18.

I’ve had literally ONE day to work on my own stuff.

The first week of October was sort of a wash because 10/5 was Yom Kippur, and the kids were home all day. Our nanny was here, but that environment is not really conducive to getting much done. I did have 10/6, in which I recorded something like 5 podcast episodes – batching, yay!

Last week I was on call, and during those weeks I am full time+. However, I only have about ~6 calls weeks/year. Not that frequent.

My current (non-call) patient schedule is Monday / Tuesday / half of Friday. In 2023, it switches to Monday / Weds / half of Friday which will feel more balanced I think!

So, yeah. Thus far I’d say part time does not feel like part time whatsoever, BUT looking at my calendar I know it will get better soon!

ALSO: I need to stop hoarding vacation days – currently I have over 5 weeks built up and this is just . . . more than is necessary. To illustrate my hoarding, I just asked for 1/16 off but offered to work a different weekday that week so that a) we have a place to put those patients (yes, 3 months ahead this is already an issue) and b) so I won’t ‘use up’ a day. But doing this is going to mean squeezing my other working time. I need to think about that.

I do think I am in a field where part time can (and will!) work well. The reality is that I will need to set boundaries (WITHOUT GUILT) and advocate for myself to make it work. At the end of the day, I have to remember I am being paid part time (with part time benefits). I am grateful that this arrangement was supported. And (was going to write “but”, but really it’s “and”), I do not owe anyone full time work.


I am taking a workout rest day today as I did last Tuesday. I probably need one day entirely off from working out each week. My training plan puts that day (currently) on Saturday but that makes no sense so I will move it to Tuesday (and Weds in 2023).

I have been taking each kid out to a 1:1 dinner on a random weeknight. G was first, C was last week, and now A is asking. This is actually a fun way to break up the routine (it qualifies as a “little adventure” I think!). So, I have something to look forward to tonight.

AND IN OTHER NEWS, I survived taking all 3 kids to C’s soccer eval and I finished my (lazy) Halloween costume. And I voted by mail!!!!! So that’s good.

peanut gallery
I mean, VIP is always better


  • Reply Seppie October 18, 2022 at 7:06 am

    This is a funny question to ask someone who is known for planning, but would it be easier to use vacation days if you scheduled them WAY out? My husband gets 6 weeks a year, but he has to choose them by the end of October for the following year. So we are calendaring vacations for all of 2023 now. (Antarctica in late November!!!) Maybe booking vacation 6-12 months ahead could solve the issue of having to move patient appts around?

    (Side note, it’s kind of a hassle to make ALL of the decisions so early, and the system at his work is super structured in a way that involves quite a bit of strategizing in order to be able to take longer vacations or to take them at peak times, but there is never a question of not using the days – when it’s your turn to pick, you pick – and I had never thought before about how nice it is to have a system that kind of forces people to use their vacation time!)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 18, 2022 at 12:26 pm

      Oh yes I usually do plan many months in advance and send my requests! But then sometimes you want to add something, you know 🙂 ? Maybe I should do some buffer/random days off that I can move around if needed. Not a bad idea when I have a surplus!

  • Reply Chelsea October 18, 2022 at 7:23 am

    I wonder if you would feel better if you tracked your time on your special project days. I’m imagining three or four categories: SHU Media Empire ;), kids, other – medicine, and other. One or two “others” depending on if it’s helpful to know if you were spending time on call, etc. That way – in 6 months or a year or so – you can look back and see if you feel like you are spending about the right proportion of your time on your goals and minimizing the “other” as much as possible.

    Love the costume, BTW. Definitely not basic 🙂

  • Reply Jessica October 18, 2022 at 7:30 am

    I think it takes time to get used to anything new, so keep giving yourself grace on that- it hasn’t even been a month. We moved to Europe from the Midwest in August and while we love it, it does take some getting used to. Other expats tell me to give it 6 months! I feel like we should be settled by now, but I think these things take longer than we expect.

    I am currently on a leave without pay situation with my job, so I am excited to follow your adventures with a more part time schedule. I have not yet begun to feel like I have free time even though I am not working at all. I’m interested to see how you schedule your extra time that you will eventually have.

  • Reply Elisabeth October 18, 2022 at 7:55 am

    I think this is all 100% normal and, like Jessica, would expect it to take several months (maybe more?!) to settle into a new routine. You’ll get there and I think you’ll love it but give yourself lots of grace in the interim. I suspect, too, you may have some accumulated burnout which can take a long time to work out of your system mentally and physically. You’ve juggled so much for so long and while you’re going to continue to juggle lots, hopefully the balance of adding in some restorative and exciting creative ventures will feel like a welcome relief to the very intensive workload you’ve been maintaining alongside so many extracurriculars (like planning, podcasts, physical activity, kids etc). You’ve had A LOT on your plate, Sarah!!!

    • Reply Amy October 18, 2022 at 9:58 am

      This is a great point re: accumulated burnout. I took a year off after graduating with my MSW a few years ago (I had a baby at the same time, there was a pandemic, etc) and having that year to reset mentally has been so helpful. It did take a while to start to move all of that stress out of my system. I bet the same is true for you. Give it time!

  • Reply Lori C October 18, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Love the dinner idea. And your costume is amazing.

  • Reply Sara October 18, 2022 at 9:04 am

    I love dinner dates 1:1 with my kids! I’ve been doing this every once a month or so when the other kid has a solo activity. They seem to enjoy the extra attention and it’s great to take a break from cooking and cleaning up. We usually just do something like Chipotle or somewhere casual, so it’s really not a lot of $$$.

  • Reply Kat October 18, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Have you thought about actually batching your days completely into the two jobs, instead of spreading them out? Something like half of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – or Monday, Tuesday, half Wednesday

    Benefit 1: vacations could be way easier, since you’d need to arrange only one end of a weekend (vs working both Monday and Friday).

    Benefit 2: having a few days in a row to “get into” your non medical work will let you think about ideas a few days in a row.

    Honestly, the current schedule for me feels like the… worst of both worlds? A ton of context switching, workdays on both sides of a weekend, and the separated half day really seems out of place. If Friday is a difficult day nobody wants to work, offering to do the latter part of the week would also get you goodwill.

    Finally, after the 6 full time weeks, can you arrange to take a vacation the half days the subsequent week? It’s only 3 days, but having 3 full days to do your project work should feel like less context switching work.

    It’s possible you’re really used to switching so much – but it would feel to be like I can never really get into project work multi day ruminations. And ruminations and multi day thinking result in my best work!

    Also, it will definitely take time to get used to a new schedule, so be kind to yourself.

    • Reply Amy October 18, 2022 at 10:00 am

      I think this is a really interesting thing to consider. I work 60% too, but batch my days so it’s Tues-Weds-Thurs. That way I’m in work mode for 3 straight days, and then off for 4. It means I don’t get a mental break within those 3 days, but I also don’t have to switch in and out of work mode (I’m a therapist, so my work is pretty intense). I wonder if a similar schedule would be helpful for you.

    • Reply Katherine October 18, 2022 at 10:26 am

      I came to say something similar. I’m in a leadership role where my schedule is often not my own. Days full of meetings and rapid context-shifting are the norm. I’m used to squeezing in administrative work, planning, and my own scholarly writing in small chunks of time. When I do have large blocks of unscheduled time or, once in a blue moon, an unscheduled day to focus on my scholarship, it takes time to shift my thinking from a rapid-fire model to a more creative and focused frame of mind. Give yourself time to experiment and see how you best use open time, and think seriously about Kat’s good suggestion to batch your clinical days. Best wishes for this new chapter!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 18, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      My worry about this is the constant patient messages I have to answer and what my inbox would look like (not to mention not meeting patient expectations) if I left every Weds to return on Monday … or coming in on Weds if I were off mon/Tues. I would start every week with such a dread of what was sitting there waiting for me, too.

      Then again maybe I could get around this.

      • Reply MDK October 18, 2022 at 9:45 pm

        Do you have anyone (RN, MA, NP) triage your messages? Or do you cover inboxes as a group? This is what our group does so that when we are off, we are off.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 19, 2022 at 5:26 am

          Not really (a pool tries to filter messages that do not require medical knowledge to answer like “can I get a copy of my order”) and no. Having an NP or PA to triage and schedule more complex questions for telehealth would be the dream! It is soooo hard to cover other people’s patients in my field. We cover when it’s emergent but not routine messages.

  • Reply K October 18, 2022 at 10:05 am

    So many thoughts! I was 0.7-0.8 FTE outpatient for years. It may be too late but I would encourage you to consider keeping an that uneven schedule–M,T, F (or M, Th, F). Think about it in terms of how many nights do I need to check my box/prep for clinic the next day? I would batch M/T prep into Sun night and then I didn’t need to look Mon night ’cause I’m back again Tuesday. Then once Tuesday was done and box was clear, I didn’t look again (usually) until Thursday night. This works as long as your office has a system of coverage for those occasional things that really can’t wait 48hrs, which is not that much in the outpatient system.
    I would also encourage you to use your PTO! I will just take a day off (with childcare!) every 6-10 weeks if I haven’t otherwise had a real vacation, or sense some burnout creeping in. I’m assuming that you are not planning to take a month off at some point–that’s extremely difficult to do in our field. So, honestly, once you have a bit of a cushion, the easiest way to use your PTO is to take random days. Disconnect, use the time for personal stuff, and then pick right back up clinically. Coming back from 1 day off the inbox the isn’t so bad, and it seems like people hardly even notice you’re gone.
    Access is a constant struggle and I admire (and share) that sense of responsibility to your patients but…the administrators who are trying to run our clinics like airplanes and have them always at 105% capacity are the issue, not you. See the patients that you can, when you can, and take your rest because we all need and deserve it. It helps no one if we martyr ourselves trying to cram in an extra visit. There will always be yet another patient they ask you to overbook!

  • Reply Courtney October 18, 2022 at 10:33 am

    Part-time is not the easy transition we think it is. I have been part-time for a couple of years now, though in a very different field and with billable hours, and it never feels like enough—not enough work, not enough rest, not enough hobbies and other interests. I have been part-time since May 2020.
    To Jessica, in my experience, a long-term overseas move can take at least a year to settle in and even up to two years. There will be many peaks and valleys along the way. Maybe with a family it moves quicker.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns October 18, 2022 at 11:04 am

    You have already gotten lots of good advice above about your schedule, although maybe it’s partially out of your control? But I would also rather stack work days and days off so I wasn’t constantly switching back and forth. I feel like I wouldn’t get in a rhythm of days on/off.

    And you definitely need to use your vacation time!! We could only carry over 5 days back when we tracked our PTO. So it was use it or lose it. Is there a reason you feel you need to hoard your PTO? If something where to happen to required you to take a long period of time off, I imagine you could use short term disability or something to that effect? 5 weeks is soooo much to bank, though, IMO. I know of teachers who bank their PTO but their set-up is so different from our since they have limited PTO during the school year. But I’d think you wouldn’t need so much margin. I no longer have to track PTO but I do anyways to make sure I am taking around 6 weeks off/year. I find I need to plan it out in advance otherwise it just doesn’t happen. Maybe you could start by planning an extra day off every quarter or every other month? I’m going to try to take a day off/quarter to treat as a “shouldless day.” If I don’t plan them in advance, they just won’t happen.

  • Reply omdg October 18, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    I love having my clinical days on Mon, Tues, and every other Weds because it allows me to focus on one thing at a time (relatively, anyway), which overall makes me more productive. I do undergo a bit of a brain dump every time I take call, but now that I expect that, I try to take good notes for myself so that when I have finally slept, I can see where I left off previously. Love the idea of having 1:1 dinners with your kids. Maybe I should plan something like that with Dyl. Except she always just wants McDonalds. 😛

  • Reply Beth October 18, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    Slightly unrelated planner question: I want something like the Essential Calendar Summber Break calendar for 2023. They don’t start selling them until closer to summer but I need to plan now due to camp signup. Is anyone aware of another option that shows the whole summer on one piece of paper?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 18, 2022 at 2:28 pm

      Not a super exciting solution but could print free monthly calendars to sketch out and and then transfer to the Essential calendar when available?

      • Reply Beth October 19, 2022 at 11:15 am

        Yep, this is my backup plan. 🙂

    • Reply CBS October 18, 2022 at 5:53 pm

      I asked someone on Etsy who does the annual calendar to do a six month one for me. I bet you could get someone to do you a custom one.

      • Reply Beth October 19, 2022 at 11:15 am

        Ooo very good idea! Etsy is often the answer. 🙂

  • Reply Sophie October 18, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    Everyone has given great thoughts/advice, so I’ll just add one more:

    On days like Yom Kippur last week when your nanny was working, if you’d wanted to get some work done, can I suggest you get out of the house? Either to a library if open, or a cafe like a Starbucks where you can have a coffee and work a while. Sometimes I need to work on weekend while my husband is with the kids, and that’s my solution. I love it, I get to concentrate but also enjoy a different setting. Obviously you couldn’t record podcast eps, but any laptop/planning work can be done anywhere. Just a thought! You’ll work out your rhythms I’m sure 🙂

  • Reply yvonne October 18, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    just saw your writeup in the NYTimes, congrats!!! you must be so excited!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 18, 2022 at 4:40 pm

      Totally surprised and excited! Only knew bc of your comments!!!

  • Reply Coco October 18, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    transition always feels harder and busier than once we reach the new steady state. I feel like needing 36 hrs a day now to accomplish what I need, but well… this is a process and we will get there.
    and I fully agree with you that we are the ones responsible to put the boundaries, no one else. If you are getting paid as part time, there’s no need to be responsible as full time worker. what might be challenging is to swift between mindsets and tasks.

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