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    I’ve worked part-time for about six years of my career. I started it because I’d repeatedly burned out of full-time jobs. Working 3 days/week was great for me, far more rewarding than the added salary I passed on could have been. Aside from lower work anxiety, I had time to write two books, give three conference talks, get engaged, get married, take up several hobbies, and enjoy life thoroughly. My work has been overwhelmingly better: I stay out of rabbit holes, I recognize deep patterns, I prioritize ruthlessly, I deliver the things my users didn’t realize they need. It’s not magic, it’s just downtime for my unconscious to noodle around with problems without pressure.

    I think working part time is a hugely valuable experience for anyone who doesn’t have a pressing need for dollars in the door (eg to pay off US medical bills or student loans). There are plenty of blogs out there on frugal living + investing (I recommend MrMoneyMustache and Bogleheads wiki), so developers can easily live comfortably and still save significantly towards retirement.

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      I’m trying to pull back my working to part-time as well. Unfortunately many companies seem to want full-time or nothing. I’ve switched over to consulting to give me more freedom, we’ll see how that goes. I’m taking around 1.5 months off from work right now which is great. For the first few weeks it felt awkward to have no reason to do anything at any particular time, but after awhile it’s become really pleasant.

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        About a year and a half ago I stopped working full-time, and it’s been really wonderful. I found I can work 2 months on a SF salary and live for a year in Berlin pretty comfortably. Sometimes I pick up more consulting work when I want structure, and sometimes I think about moving back to NYC where I would have to work a little more regularly, but I wouldn’t change anything about how I’ve spent my time up until now. I’ve been able to dive really deeply into a bunch of things I would never have had the time or energy to pursue if I were still a wageslave. The things I’ve built in my free time have also turned into tons of job opportunities, and I’ve stopped doing technical interviews now that people can just look at work I put on github and stuff. So, it can lead to lots of nice career things, too. I don’t want to stop engineering, but I am quite happy to live life outside of a shitty startup office a bit more.

        Almost no jobs will appreciate it when you tell them you’d like to work less. But if you go into a new thing with clear expectations set, I’ve found it to be much easier.

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          This is awesome! How do you go about getting consulting work - do you look for clients, or do they approach you? Did you have a ramp-up period before you felt comfortable that you’d have enough consulting work when you need it?

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            I think most opportunities come my way because I genuinely enjoy talking to people about systems and engineering, and when I don’t have a full-time job I can spend more time communicating about those things. It’s networking, but for something that doesn’t feel gross to me. I am lucky to have this alignment between my personal interests and what businesses currently value. My current gig came from a comment I made here on lobste.rs ;)

            A key to being comfortable is having enough runway where I know I will be OK for a while if I don’t find any work. This means being careful about burn rate. I consider potential purchases and recurring obligations in terms of how much life without work I’m giving up to have them. When my friends from work were increasing their rent to keep up with 30% of their salaries (or more) I was building the buffer that would keep me calm without work. They are worth a lot more money than me now, but I’ve been able to grow in ways that I’m extremely grateful for. Also after quitting my last full-time job I went through a period of intentional “unlearning of engineer-in-a-fun-city spending habits” which gave me a lot of peace of mind, by tripling my runway.

            When I decided to stop working full-time, I didn’t know if it was going to just be a long break or a whole new arrangement. After getting over burnout from the SF startup I was at, I cold-emailed a company doing interesting work to me, and they enthusiastically agreed to a 10 hour/wk contract. That showed me that I might be able to keep it going.

            When you pay 1/7 the rent, even a small trickle of engineering work feels like a geyser.

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              Thanks, this is an excellent approach.

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          Unfortunately many companies seem to want full-time or nothing. I’ve switched over to consulting to give me more freedom, we’ll see how that goes.

          While this is true, as Mike points out in the interview it’s possible to convince some companies some of the time to hire you part-time anyway. It’s much more effort, and you need to be willing to push back much harder. But it can be done. Since it’s not the default, you really want to only mention part time bit after company has committed to hiring you.

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        I think that beyond the benefits that are mentioned here for working part-time, you are more invulnerable to painful actions taken by faulty management (for example - having or being expected to work extra time). This is a huge factor and sometimes leads to being burnt quickly. Good friend of mine works on a place where they are expected to work extra time where delivery time is near. Not only is he burnt, but he’s much less productive than if he worked a reasonable amount of time daily. There’s a sweet spot that any individual should know or find, of amount of hours you want to work before you take a break.

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          I work four days a week and can recommend it. As Mike says in the interview, my place of work gets the best 4/5ths of my output; plus, if something needs to happen urgently, I have the slack to work an extra day that week. My subconscious gets to let ideas simmer;

          For myself, having Mondays off gives me time to run errands, walk the dog (which also gets walked on other days, natch), see some sunlight in winter (weather gods permitting, which last December they weren’t), take driving lessons, do care work, etc. If you have the choice, I’d recommend taking Wednesdays off over Mondays: where I live, at least, most shops are closed on Mondays.

          I came to be working parttime by saying at the interview that I was looking to work 4 days a week. It helped that the ad was for 3-5 days per week, and it certainly helped that the Netherlands has ~22% of men and ~75% of women who have jobs working parttime (data from 2009, but it’ll do for now. Only 12.5% of men aged 25-50, by the way, but that is again the EU top within that subset. % among women in that age bracket isn’t mentioned, and I can’t seem to slap the Centraal Bureau Statistiek’s mobile site into giving the %, gender, and age breakdown I want.)

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            My brother used to do this: He’d say to himself, I want to make $X this year. He’d work full time until he reached that goal. Then that was it for the year.

            Not as good as working part time. He’d just get another job the next year.