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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life

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15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life

It’s no secret that shift work schedules can take a toll on your physical well-being, emotional state, and your mental health. In industries that require 24-hour-services or work weeks that operate around 12-hour shift rotations, there can still be some resistance when bouncing from week after week[1].

Over time, the hobbies you once loved may get pushed to the side and burnouts may creep in, resulting in emotions of disconnect, isolation, and possibly unfulfillment.

Changing your lifestyle is challenging but achievable. Like most of the other things in life, it’s the act of balance that genuinely affects the quality of your life.

Here are 15 tips to enhance your quality of life when shift work may be weighing you down.

1. Discover What’s Working for You

First, ask yourself which parts of your routine are already working for you.

Recently, I have come to realize that I’m much more of a morning person than I am a night owl. I write better, my focus is clear, and I feel as if I’m working at my optimal level. Discovering this was a game-changer and has helped me grasp an understanding of how to show up physically and mentally at work.

A good starting place is taking notice of the small things that work and don’t work for you:

  • Does coffee actually make me crash when I start my shift at 11 p.m.?
  • How cluttered is my mind when I go to sleep after work versus running some of my errands first?
  • I’m missing another family function; how am I feeling at work and do I always feel this way?

Noticing these small details can enhance the overall quality of your life when you have a job that relies on shift work.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

Burnouts happen to the best of us, and even the most successful people face them.

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Everyone goes through a period of complete mental and physical exhaustion, but there are always signs leading up to a burn out, including lack of motivation, decreased satisfaction, and health problems. Taking a mental health day can help.

Shift work can be a stressful thing, especially when working hours that cause problems with your circadian rhythms, and giving your mind the relaxation and self-care that it deserves will help you make clear and healthier decisions.

3. Spend Minimal Time on Social Media

When you’re working odd hours of the day, it may be difficult to stray away from social media – the digital and interactive platforms that keep you connected with the “outside” world.

Engaging in social media is also an act of balance, and indulging in ample amounts of blue light and diving into the rabbit hole of scrolling will not only exhaust you mentally but may leave you feeling disconnected from everyone.

The digital world will always be there. Don’t forget to make time to connect with the real world, too.

4. Invest in an Eye Pillow

In reality, it’s not the morning caffeine boost that gets your day going – it’s the sleep you received the night before. Insufficient sleep can leave you feeling unfocused and affects the way you get your day started[2].

The Risks of Shift Work – Blue Block Glasses

    Eye pillows are great for those who might have sleep problems, as the essential oils infused in the silky fabric can help alleviate tension, stress, and help you achieve quality sleep.

    5. Schedule “Me” Time Every Day

    As a number, 24 hours may seem large. However, add in your 8-hour work day, everyday tasks, commuting, and other life obligations, and it might be hard to squeeze in an hour just for yourself.

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    Spending one hour by yourself and with yourself can shift the overall quality of your life. Whether it be a designating time to indulge in a book, bake a dish, free-write, or play an instrument, this is a time for you to spend it selfishly.

    6. Create Goals

    The key here is to create goals, not a laundry list of things to do.

    Curate a list of local events you want to attend on the weekend or make it a goal to run a 5K. Consider your goals to be things that ignite those emotions of excitement, adventure, and fun. This can help you overcome the dullness or overwhelm of shift work.

    7. Take a Moment to Slow Down

    Shift-work can drain you physically, which means you must listen to your body. Oftentimes, we get lost when we’re on the go. We take our meals, our coffees, and even important conversations while we’re constantly up and running. Take some time to breathe and slow down.

    8. Set Expectations With Your Employer

    It’s about communicating with your employer and setting those expectations you can realistically meet. Sometimes shift workers go the extra mile and stay behind after work, or they end up picking up extra shifts when needed.

    Realistically, are you going the extra mile, or are your employers getting too dependent? If it’s the latter, it’s time to draw some boundary lines.

    If you have a family and you need to be home at a certain time, ask your employer to honor it. If there’s a yoga class you’ve been committed to on a weekly basis that keeps you grounded and recharged, stay committed to it.

    Setting those expectations can help bring control back into your life in the long term.

    9. Create a Routine

    Establishing a set routine can alleviate unnecessary stress, even if you’re sleeping during the day or working early morning shifts. After a long day at work, the last thing you probably would want to be doing is stressing over what daily tasks need to be completed.

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    Set a designated day for laundry, grocery shopping, and other tasks that need to get done on a weekly basis.

    10. Meal Prep for the Week

    Eating healthy is one crucial factor that affects your quality of life, but taking control of what goes into your body gives you that conscious awareness of what you are really consuming.

    It’s no secret that meal prepping is no easy task, especially when shift work has you exhausted. Instead, think of the benefits it could provide – freeing up mental capacity for the week, building a healthy and accountability relationship with yourself, and saving you money[3].

    11. Do Something Creative

    Even for those who believe they don’t have a creative bone in their body, every single person in the world has a imagination unique to themselves.

    Creativity does not always have to come in the form of art, but also in the mess of baking or the rhythm when you dance.

    12. Surround Yourself With Nature

    When was the last time you stood barefoot on a damp patch of grass after the morning rain or ran your fingers through the soft grains of sand at the beach?

    When was the last time you closed your eyes and listened to the birds chirp or the leaves rustle against the wind?

    There’s another world outside of the physical world we live in when we’re at work, and surrounding yourself with nature reminds you of that.

    13. Reflect

    Although shift work can have you bouncing back and forth during odd hours of the day, there’s that opportunity to sit and reflect during these times.

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    If you work at night, you have the chance to sit and reflect when the world is sleeping, which can actually be the quietest time to clear your mind.

    14. Get Active

    Physical activity is more vital than some people give it credit. Spending a portion of your day moving your body can help get those endorphins going and have you feeling ready to conquer the day or release the tension in your body.

    15. Make Time for the People You Love

    With shift work, there may be times that you are missing out on many of life’s events that are going on in your inner circle – dinner parties, happy hours, or hiking trips.

    The positive thing about working unconventional hours is that it gives you the time to reflect on the handful of people who are the most important to you and how you want to spend your time with them.

    Maybe it’s not about going to dinner parties with your friends from high school that brings you happiness, but meeting up with your gym buddy for a quick run instead. Use your time the way you want and with the people you want to spend it with.

    Final Thoughts

    Although shift work can be emotionally and physically draining, use it as a learning opportunity to get to know yourself. When was the last time you got to dive deep to get to know the person you are and who you have become?

    Not everything has to be goal-oriented, and sometimes regaining the quality of your life means exploring the little things.

    More on Dealing With Shift Work

    Featured photo credit: Luis Melendez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Akina Chargualaf

    Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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    Published on November 30, 2021

    Entrepreneurial Burnout: 6 Ways to Avoid And Overcome It

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    Entrepreneurial Burnout: 6 Ways to Avoid And Overcome It

    Burnout became an especially painful issue during the pandemic when the majority of people worked from home, finding it difficult to draw the line between work and private life. However, entrepreneur burnout has been less discussed, despite evidence that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk of burning out.[1]

    It may seem that as the boss, you are more in control of your time and work duties. Feeling stressed? Take a day off. Don’t feel like doing something? Give the task to someone else. But in reality, the responsibility of leading a company weighs heavy on many company owners.

    In addition, when you’re passionate about growing your business, it can be tricky to notice the symptoms of burnout. It may take long months or even years of putting yourself through survival mode before you notice that your body or mind has raised a white flag.

    The tips compiled here will help you avoid entrepreneur burnout and tackle already existing burnout symptoms, like exhaustion, sleep problems, irritability, weakened immune system, and others. However, if you feel that these have already become serious issues, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor or a psychotherapist in addition to following these tips.

    1. Find a Reliable Business Partner

    There’s a reason why most startups nowadays have at least two or three people on the founding team. Starting and growing a business is a challenging endeavor and can become a gargantuan task if you sign up to do it alone. Even if it may seem doable at first, new responsibilities, needs, and issues will arise as your company grows.

    If you’re lucky, you already have a trustworthy partner to share the highs and lows of managing a business. If you’re going at it solo but would like to find a business partner, look for someone who:

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    • you trust and, ideally, have already worked with, either as colleagues or co-founders;
    • has a complementary skillset and temper;
    • has similar work habits and ethics;
    • will be equally invested in the business, both financially, practically, and emotionally.

    Rihards Piks, the co-founder of on-demand supplement fulfillment service Supliful, shares that he and his business partner Martins were childhood friends and had already worked on several business ideas together before Supliful. Their close-knit partnership played a crucial role when their previous business was facing bankruptcy: “When we decided to take out personal loans to save our business from going under, we both took an equal share of the risk – and an equal share of the loan. Neither Martins nor I became a tag-along co-founder.”[2]

    2. Set Your Priorities as Soon as Possible

    When starting your business, the list of tasks and plans seems endless, and it’s clear as day that it’s not humanly possible to attend to all of them. That’s why priority setting is so important when you’re a company owner. In other words, take small but focused steps in the right direction.

    If your company is still at a very early stage, prioritize the tasks that help you create a Minimum Viable Product or MVP to kick your business off and start attracting customers. An MVP is the most basic version of your business idea that can operate. Gather the first clients, and get valuable feedback.

    If you’re leading an already established business, think about slowly transferring operational tasks to others, keeping the focus on company goals and other crucial aspects of your business.

    Jonna Piira, the founder of Kali, worked on too many projects until she was forced to take some time off due to an unfortunate fall down the stairs. That’s when she realized she was experiencing entrepreneur burnout and decided to take a critical look at her list of priorities: “I reviewed everything that I was doing. I listed all of my commitments from most fulfilling to least. I then reviewed how much time each commitment was taking each week. Then I cut out the items at the bottom of my list.”[3]

    3. Delegate Instead of Micromanaging

    First-time founders are at the highest risk of entrepreneur burnout simply because they operate in high uncertainty and thus, feel they have to be responsible for every aspect of the business and control everything. More experienced business owners know that it’s impossible—and unnecessary—to participate in every process and decision within the company.

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    Instead of trying to control everything, follow these tactics:

    • Hire great people and trust them to fulfill their responsibilities.
    • Remember the list of your priorities and focus on them instead of constantly checking your team’s performance.
    • If necessary, schedule weekly or monthly meetings with different teams and employees to stay in the loop about the most critical processes.
    • Delegate straightforward manual tasks to freelancers (e.g., from platforms like Fiverr or Upwork).
    • Prepare documentation to streamline how processes run within the company (more on this in the next section).

    Toms Panders, co-founder and CEO of ad tech startup Setupad, said: “Prior to launching Setupad, I had spent almost 10 years in the advertising industry, so I felt that I knew how to do things the right way and wanted to participate in every decision made within the company. However, as the company was quickly growing, I realized that I must release the reins and trust my team if I want to stay sane and avoid burning out. I also realized that micromanaging is an overhead cost. I prefer to invest in improving the hiring process and education.”

    4. Document Processes and Guidelines

    To avoid having to participate in every process within the company, it’s a smart move to streamline your company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) as soon as possible. These are the documented processes specific to your industry or type of work and describe the steps necessary to complete tasks according to industry regulations.

    SOPs are crucial for running a smooth business operation and for onboarding new employees as swiftly as possible. Following such step-by-step documentation, anyone can complete tasks and lead basic projects.

    When starting a small business, it may seem that SOPs aren’t necessary, but as your company grows, you’ll see that such documentation saves your valuable time that you’d have to spend mentoring instead of tending to other business goals. Now, this is not to say that SOPs substitute all human interaction during onboarding and delegating tasks, but they are a huge help and time-saver.

    5. Use Apps That Save Time and Automate Tasks

    Automation can help your business scale without you having to be involved in the mundane and repetitive part of it. Whenever you feel like you’re spending too much time doing something manually, check if there isn’t an app to do it for you! Chances are, there’s already existing technology that will solve your problem and automate processes without requiring much effort and time from you or your team, while you focus on creating value for your clients.

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    For example, there’s no need to manage and assign tasks manually and control who’s responsible for what when there are so many great project management apps out there. Why create attendance shifts and issue invoices manually when effective time management tools can do it for you? Many of these tools offer free trials, so you can test them out before committing to a purchase.

    Julia Gifford, co-founder of PR and content marketing agency Truesix shared with us: “I can’t emphasize how much time and nerves I saved when I switched from manually creating invoices in Google Docs to using invoicing software. It seemed inconsequential at first, which is why it took so long to make the switch. But it’s the little things that are done automatically that really ended up making a difference – like setting the date, due date, calculating totals, calculating VAT. It has made invoicing so much faster, not to mention with significantly fewer errors. Now I don’t dread this task every month like I used to, and am a much happier person for it.”

    6. Nourish Your Life Outside of Work

    Here’s a universal truth that many entrepreneurs have learned the hard way: it’s rarely only work that causes entrepreneur burnout. Usually, it’s a combination of different external factors, lifestyle aspects, and personality traits.

    For one, the health of your mind is directly linked to the health of your body. Neglecting physical activities, eating unhealthy food, sleeping too little, smoking, and drinking too much—all these contribute to burnout.

    If you experience stress, it’s crucial to learn to deal with it healthily, whether it’s through meditation, sports, massage, or something else that relaxes you. In addition, make sure you take sufficient breaks and exercise or at least take a walk also during work hours.

    Armands Broks, the founder of fintech company TWINO, shares how he experienced burnout back in 2017: “I had to turn my company around and basically start from scratch. As burnout wasn’t a widely discussed topic back then, I went through it all alone. This experience taught me that to maintain mental health, all areas of life need to be in balance. You cannot focus only on work, neglecting your body or your emotions. If you cannot hold that balance, getting burned out is only a matter of time.”[4]

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    That said, many passionate and ambitious entrepreneurs and especially startup founders find it hard to slow down and stop working when they still feel they could do so much. Armands Broks told us, “One of the difficult decisions I had to make was handing over the reins of my business to another person. I delegated my operational responsibilities, deciding to focus only on business strategy and growth agenda.”

    Learning from his struggles, Armands has emphasized his company’s employee wellbeing strategy, placing even greater emphasis on mental health. For example, employees are allowed to take some days off for the sake of their mental health or simply resting.

    Watch Out for Entrepreneur Burnout

    Entrepreneur burnout can creep up on people who are ambitious and excited about what they do. In addition, entrepreneur burnout doesn’t happen only when things aren’t going well. Many company founders running successful businesses can be just as susceptible to this modern plague.

    On the bright side, experiencing burnout often teaches a valuable lesson and forces people to switch to more balanced and healthy lifestyles. If you feel burned out now right now, follow these tips and hang in there! Chances are, you’ll come out of this stronger, calmer, and with a new set of priorities.

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    Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions via unsplash.com

    Reference

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