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15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life

15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life

It’s no secret that shift work 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.

Over time, the hobbies you once loved may get pushed to the side and burnouts may come creeping in resulting to 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.

Now it’s time to dive in. 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

Ask yourself – “what is working for me?”

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 doesn’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 your overall quality of your life.

2. Take a mental health day off

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 healthday can help.

Shift work can be a stressful thing and giving your mind the relaxation and self-care that it deserves will help you make clearer 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 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. That is vital. A defective sleep can leave you feeling unfocused and overall affects the way you get your day started.

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

5. Designated “me” time every day

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

Spending one hour to 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.

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6. Create goals or things to look forward 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.

7. Take a moment to slow down.

Shift-work can drain you physically, which means you must listen to your body. Often times, we tend to 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. Setting expectations with your employer

It’s about communicating with your employer and setting those expectations you can realistically meet. Sometimes employees 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 so, it’s time to set those expectations.

If you have a family and you need to be home at the 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.

9. Create a routine

Establishing a set routine can alleviate unnecessary stress. 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.

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

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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. Instead, think of the benefits it could provide – freeing up mental capacity for the week, builds a healthy and accountability relationship with yourself, and can end up being cost-effective.

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 to body 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 also 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.

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.

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14. Get active

Physical activity is more vital than some people give credit to. Spending a portion of your day to move 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 important people in your life

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 working 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.

Featured photo credit: Luis Melendez via unsplash.com

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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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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

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