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4 Things You Should Know About Shift Work

4 Things You Should Know About Shift Work

With summer nearly at a close, many 20-something’s will find themselves either returning to class or will be watching their post-graduation festivities come to an end. In either case, a large portion of them will find themselves starting or searching for employment. With the unprecedentedly cluttered job market, many will find themselves accepting employment as shift-workers.

For full-time employees, these jobs, typically span eight hour periods, five days a week. Though some are lucky enough to land standard working hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m.), some others will be forced to compromise for much less convenient blocks of time. For those who must weather the storm of shift work, here are 4 things that may help you to mentally prepare for the life adjustment.

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1. Your sleep cycle will be erratic.

Unfortunately, with the way that many of these shift jobs are set-up, there’s never any actual guarantee that your schedule will remain the same. Sure, there are ways to attempt to enforce a set schedule, however in the interest of making as much capital as possible – you’d be doing yourself a disservice by limiting your availability. In these types of jobs, many employers are looking for people who can work whenever needed. Open availability ensures that you will, for the most part, receive the maximum amount of hours each week. Because these jobs are primarily “paid by the hour,” open availability will be the most beneficial for your check.

Though you can maximize your profit by being the aforementioned, ideal candidate, this also means that your day-to-day schedule could change weekly. Some weeks will be a mixed bag while others may be more consistent. The point to remember here is that there is no guarantee of a set structure. Because of this, your free-time and your sleep period will be contingent on the requirements of the job, and will necessitate constant adjustments.

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2. Your social life will be directly affected.

The free-wheeling or otherwise spontaneous nature of your “hangouts” will be limited. Assuming that you hold a full-time position in a shift job, your social life may dramatically change. The truth of the matter is that nobody wants to work the weekends. If you’re starting at the bottom of the shift-worker totem-pole, the chances are that you will be stuck working a solid eight-hour shift on most Fridays and Saturdays.

Sure, it’s possible to avoid this by mandating those days off, but to reiterate, this can affect how much you make each week, and in more drastic cases it can prevent you from being hired at all. Accepting the terms that will most benefit your bank account means your social life will be strictly confined to your days off, or before and after the times that you are scheduled to work.

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3. It can be depressing.

If you were one of those fortunate enough to skate by on minimal income, being suddenly thrust into the real world where finances are now your own concern, can be a bit of a shock. Conforming to the sporadic work life of an hourly job can be a downer. However, it is imperative to maintain the mindset that you are working toward self-reliance. Rather than fall into the pit of depression and self-pity, build a weekly plan for yourself; one that works within the parameters of your work and life schedule.

By governing your week a bit more sternly, you’ll be able to make time each day for the things that truly matter to you. Not only is this important for your mental health, but it will stave off any disheartening emotions, as well as keep you productive, both in and out of the workplace. Remember, it’s important to make time for yourself, as well as your responsibilities.

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4. But, it’s a step in the right direction.

As long as you keep these key points in mind, surviving the disorderly experience of shift work will become easier to cope with. After some assimilation to the nature of this type of workplace, you’ll seamlessly regulate and learn to live a happy and fulfilling life alongside it.

Whether you plan on moving up in the company, or if this is simply a means to survive, rest easy in the fact that it’s a step in the right direction. In many places, stable employment is hard to come by, and a decent salary can be more difficult to find. Dream job or not, you’re a productive member of society, and that is nothing, if not an amazing thing. Stay positive and keep moving forward.

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Antwan Crump

Novelist, blogger, essayist, podcaster.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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