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Can’t Do It All


We can’t do it all. Everyone knows that. But sometimes we still try. Maybe try to convince ourselves that we’re exempt from the cold hard truth.

Guys. I don’t know if I can keep my part-time job much longer. My goal was to keep it for another full academic year (being done at the end of next summer), but I am really struggling. I’m barely keeping afloat of my responsibilities and the whole house-hunting process has almost pushed me over the edge (Why is there so.much.paperwork!? We were done – and then it’s a new month so now they want MORE paperwork! Argh! PS: Still in negotiations over a house).

So I’m going to my boss at my full-time job. I’m asking for a pretty significant raise. I’m also asking for fewer classes in my course-load. And then I’m providing a long list of all the things I will be doing as the program coordinator (and time it takes) to maintain excellence within our program. I don’t know what will happen, but I can’t continue to pile on my plate more and more and more without any additional compensation or power. So something has to change. And then if things go my way, maybe I’ll be able to leave my part-time job. It’s just so, so, so hard to walk away from the money. I make so much money from the part-time job it’s disgusting. Like, triple the national average for adjunct-teaching. But it’s more work. And I really can’t keep up with the grading and provide detailed, responsive feedback like I want.

It all comes down to the one undeniable fact. I can’t do it all.


Suggestions on how to approach my boss? FYI, she’s insanely busy right now so I was thinking of typing up an initial proposal with everything I’d like and everything I’d provide and then we can set a meeting to go from there (but at least she’d already know what I’m asking for, etc.). Is that a weird way to do it???  Help me because I’m drowning over here!


  • Reply Kay |

    You should go ask the question at askamanager . Com. The website has lots of helpful info on stuff like this.

  • Reply Victoria |

    As a manager I think I’d find it a little rude to get a demanding email out of the blue. Much better to address it in person but have the list ready to follow up with straight away. But beginning of the school year the best time?

    Is this the best time to be house hunting? Do you ‘need’ to own property right now, or would a further year of part-time job as well, pay off debt and give you a better deposit?

    You are doing so much with family at the moment but that’s moving forward. Are you able to stick it out the couple of months it will take (hopefully!) to sort out the family stuff?

    Can husband do more to help home/family wise to take some stress from you?

    These are not meant to be judgmental but critical friend questions ? I agree it seems difficult to give up that extra money. Your health (mental health as well) comes first though.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s definitely my main concern. Though, it’s not entirely out-of-the-blue (these are things I’ve mentioned before as my role and responsibilities have continued to grow & grow & grow). Do you think it makes a difference if my initial proposal leaves specific numbers out? In other words, we can talk specifics in-person, but the proposal basically outlines the problem we have (our department’s needs) and explains how I can address them (the responsibilities I will take on). But if I leave the proposal relatively vague in terms of how to make that work – just being clear that something would have to change in terms of compensation package and/or teaching load. And then talk in person??
      In response to the timing – this is actually the perfect time for it (albeit at the beginning of a year) because a huge change was just announced last week. The change will cause big budget changes across the board (and a TON of work), so I think the is the precise time to bring up my changing needs if I’m to remain in my role and with my current responsibilities.

      • Reply Victoria |

        Right, well following on from Maureen’s points I think you need to be aware of the risk to both jobs if you’re seen as awkward or demanding (not knowing the dynamics of your work!).
        You could try an email something like ” in light of all the changes I wanted to talk to you about my role and responsibilities. I wanted to discuss this with you in person but I know that you’re very busy. I thought if I gave you some background over email we could meet to discuss some proposals I had in mind at a time that is convenient for you. Love my job, see opportunity for the dept, want to be here for the new exciting challenges blah blah. Really appreciate you giving me some time to discuss with you”

        See how she responds, you could then follow up with your proposals.

  • Reply Denise |

    So you are going to tell your boss you want more money and less courses? Aren’t you newish in the role, too? Yeah… I don’t see this ending well for you.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yep : )
      Though, to be fair, I’ve basically been doing 2 jobs at this place: one is teaching based and one is more administrative. The additional administrative roles I’ve taken on really warrant its own position – it’s so far over and above “service” that it’s kind of laughable. My idea was to ask for more money & fewer classes (not providing specific #s) and see what type of agreement we can come to. For instance, if I’m given a lot more time (in terms of a big reduction in course load) then I could do so with a lesser raise. If I’m expected to continue on with my current course load (which is, by itself, full-time), then I need more money to compensate for all the additional hours I’m putting in on weekends/evenings that fall outside the scope of my current contract. It’s a way to keep the negotiations open instead of being rigid in either domain, I’m flexible to make it work either way.

      • Reply Maureen |

        Without going into too much detail–was your role, or does your contract, specify time allocations to both roles, or has one grown so much that it is out of sync? I’m not disagreeing with you in principle, but I think it makes a big difference if either role has grown out of the scope of the contractual job description (if it even exits). Then, you have a bigger argument with more credence.

        • Reply Ashley |

          It’s definitely out-of-sync. My contract is 80% teaching and 20% service. But the things I’ve taken on in the name of “service” really warrants a full-time position. I know I’m needed to teach (& I love it!) so I would never ask to give up teaching. But I do think a better balance of maybe 50-50 (teaching-administrative) is certainly appropriate in this situation so more time can be devoted to the administrative roles that have been piling up.

          • Ashley |

            But….could I initiate the conversation through email? I ask because I know our first opportunity for a face-to-face meeting is not for at least a couple weeks. But the changes are being implemented now so I feel like it’s a time-sensitive issue to bring up asap.

          • Maureen |

            I am sort of on the fence about this one (email). I don’t know the dynamic of your department and/or supervisor. I think it (might) be appropriate to initiate a general conversation over email, but I don’t think I would send anything formal (like a typed proposal) until you can test the water so to speak. I understand your dilemma and agree it needs to be addressed; however, even though are under contract, there (from what I understand) is no guarantee your contract will be renewed year-to-year (like tenured faculty) and you are about to make a big financial investment. Tread lightly, but cautiously is my advice. Any one else have thoughts?

  • Reply Ann |

    I’m surprised you’ve been able to keep the second job this long. Being full time faculty is a huge job– I would think that would take 60 hours a week. So doing that AND a part time job AND being married with small children is a recipe for disaster.
    Quit the part time job!

  • Reply katy |

    Undergrad student who need more credits. I used to sign up students throught the year for an extra hour or two just for working with .Faculty.

  • Reply Walnut |

    If you ask for fewer classes, be prepared for your supervisor to bring up the part time job. If one of my direct reports indicated to me that they had too much work on their plate, I would point out that their part time job might be contributing to that feeling. I wouldn’t ask them to leave it, but I would end the meeting fairly quickly.

  • Reply Kate |

    I agree, I think you have two fairly separate issues here. One is that you might need to give up your part time job, the second is the work balance and compensation at your full time job. But even though compensation is good at the former, it doesn’t give you the benefits and potential for a long term career that the latter does. I don’t think you can make quitting the part time work contingent on getting a raise elsewhere, and neither can you say you need less responsibility at your full time job so you can continue to teach on the side.

    I also agree with the person who pointed out that maybe it makes sense to rent for another year – I don’t know how far into the process you are, so maybe it’s not an option at this point. But home ownership requires a bunch of time in addition to the money; things break, yards need maintenance, bigger living spaces take more to keep clean, etc. I know your husband is handy but with so much else on your plate maybe renting for another year isn’t a bad idea, in order to keep yourself sane.

    None of this is meant to be critical at all so I hope it doesn’t come across that way!

  • Reply Kina |

    My suggestion is to stop house shopping until your part-time contract ends. Keep on the path of saving money and paying down debt.

    Sure, ask for more money if your responsibilities have increased, but not just for the sake of needing to replace the pt income.

  • Reply Shanna |

    I am not in academia, but the fact you have already had a similar conversation (I think) for more salary, etc and you are quite new, leads me to think you should tread lightly. The fact you have a second job would be the first thought as your supervisor, they may feel you have too much going on to do the job and give the opposite response than you are hoping for. I agree with above, in that you finish out your contact with the part time job, then quit it. At that point, with your main job being your only one, go for a renegotiated package. And I agree with putting off home ownership for the time being. The expenses related to home ownership are many and the less debt you have and the more you have saved, the better off you are. This time next year you will have a much better grasp of your job with income and time needs. You will also be very close to your girls being in kindergarten and your childcare will drop tremendously. Without that expense you may be able to move into a house that will suit your needs longer than a starter home with your current financial restrictions. I admire your moxie and your total willingness to work incredibly hard.

  • Reply dh |

    You mentioned hiring a cleaner. Could that free up enough time so that you could finish the contract for your PT job?

  • Reply Christopher |

    Your full time time is one you really wanted and your part time job has high pay, you should consider keeping both for another year and delay buying a home for a year and hire a cleaner.

    While you have made huge strides in paying off debt, another year of paying $30,000 in debt would greatly improve your long-term financial decision and putting you in a much better home buying position.

    Owning a home is expensive. I live in a condo and pay an HOA, but unexpected expenses will come up, which will delay your debt reduction. Even if your mortgage+taxes=rent, you need to add money for maintaintance, upkeep and unexpected needs.Remember, lots of great homes will be waiting. Delaying by a home is okay, renting is not bad.

    You should consider putting together a timeline that you would like implemented during the next annual budget cycle rather than next week. This will give your department time to plan financially and implement a revised roll, which will likely include a title and salary bumb. Remember, you just enhanced the job adding summer months. This plan worked well for me and increased my role and pay by 30% last year.

    You seem very reactionary and stressed right now, maybe book a massage or something that relaxes you. Taking a step back to contemplate is okay.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I think this is such great advice – thank you for it! You’re definitely right – I wrote this post when I was right in the heat of an “oh-my-god, what else just got dumped in my lap” mini freak-out. Very reactionary.
      Thankfully, I thought better of sending the immediate email (which I’d already typed on a word doc, along with full proposal). Instead, I slept on it and decided to send a short email just saying I need a QUICK meeting ASAP. Stressed that I’d be fast (because for an hour time-slot my boss is booking 3 weeks out right now). From boss’ reply, it sounds like I can get a 15-minute time slot next Tuesday the 20th. Still further out than I’d like, but it was the soonest I could get in. We’ll see what happens.

  • Reply RM |

    I really enjoy your blog and I can relate to a lot of it. I had just started a part time waitress job a few weeks ago. I have a full time job, plus run 2 other businesses and a singles group. I had a panic attack because I was doing to much and not enough time for normal everyday things. I decided the part time job wasn’t worth my sanity. However, I also decided that I needed a better paying full time job and my time was better spent looking for a new job.

    My full time boss basically said you’re doing to much and not focusing on one thing. Be careful that your boss won’t say the same thing.

  • Reply cad |

    i would put off the house hunting. if you can figure out a way to keep the part time job a little longer it will help you in the long run. i would also outsource domestic duties- laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning- your time is more valuable (evidenced by the $$$ you make per hour!!) than to spend it doing those things. cost/benefit- better to pay someone else to do it and still be able to proft by working the PT job.

So, what do you think ?