Working 24/7: Three Unexpected Things It Can Teach You!

working 247I must admit when I first started shift work some 20 plus years ago, I was a young, enthusiastic 20 something year old ready to take on the world. When I found my first job as a Passenger Service Agent in the airline industry I really felt like I’d landed my dream job – pardon the pun!

However little did I know at the time, working shift work was going to present me with multiple challenges physically, mentally and emotionally – but it was also going to teach me a whole lot of other things as well.

Because let’s face it – most of us take our lives for granted and don’t think of the consequences of our actions … particularly at the tender age of 21.

So it’s not until we get older (and much wiser), that we begin to understand and appreciate what life and its many hurdles can teach us.

And the same can be said about shift work.

Here are 3 unexpected (but good) things you will discover from working shift work.

1. How valuable and fragile good health can be. Shift workers are prone to sickness and ill health so when we’re healthy – we cherish it! However when we’re young, fit and healthy we think we’re indispensible. Kind of like Jack Dawson from the block buster movie, the Titanic. And just like in the movie, life can change in an instant which is why a lot of shift workers learn to appreciate and value good health. They learn to nurture and foster it because they never know when (and if) this may change.

2. The importance of good quality sleep. When you work shift work sleep deprivation becomes the bane of our existence and you often feel like you’re forever trying to catch up on lost sleep. So when the alarm goes off at 3am or you have to soldier on through night shift – sleep becomes your priority. You realise that you cannot function on next to no sleep so for your own sanity (and that of your work mates); you make a concerted effort to ensure you’re tucked into bed at a reasonable hour.

3. The importance of friends and family. When you sign up to work shift work you effectively sign your family up to work shift work as well – whether they like it or not. So when you work irregular hours, spending time with your friends and family becomes a precious commodity as shift workers often miss family events due to work commitments. When you work long hours and on a rotational roster 24/7 you quickly learn to appreciate just how important your friends and family are and to make sure you allocate quality time with them whenever you can.

Working shift work is tough, that’s for sure.

However the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling with the whole shift work thing, be mindful that its actually teaching you how to appreciate and value certain things in your life – often long before our ‘Nine-To-Five’ cousins even begin to realise it.

Shift Work Roster – How Friendly Is Yours?

upside down clockIf you’re someone who works rotating shifts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week then no doubt you crave to have the occasional weekend off or at the very least, have a Saturday sleep in so that you can go and watch the kids play a game of soccer.

But the harsh reality for most shift workers is that it means having to give up a lot of Sundays and battling a shift work roster that is not particlarly friendly for having any kind of social life.

That being said, how good does it feel when you can head down to the beach or go to the movies in the middle of the week when the rest of the population is working?

Pretty darn good I think! In fact it’s one of the many ‘perks’ to working shift work.

Yet many of us focus on all of the negatives associated with having to work irregular hours (in particular the not-so-friendly shift work roster), and end up living a deflated and unfulfilling life.

So how can you manage to keep sane and happy – despite having to work ruthless hours? Well I’m going to be realistic here, unless you’re able to win lotto or you decide to throw in the towel and join the ‘Land of the Nine-To-Fivers’ – you’re probably going to have to continue the battle with your shift work roster.

But there are 3 simple things which you can do which will make going back to work not so bad.

1. Concentrate on the simple things in life. So many of us get caught up in all of the bells and whistles of a life that we forget to keep things simple. Forget about trying to “keep up with the Jones” – you don’t have to have the new car, a designer outfit – it really doesn’t matter.

2.  Shift from the negative to the positive.  It’s so easy to whinge and complain about all of the bad stuff in our life (particularly when those around us are doing the same thing), but try and focus on the positive.  There are always so many things to be grateful for but we often don’t see them because we’re wrapped up in all of the negative stuff.  Try this exercise tomorrow – go 24 hours without complaining (not even once), then watch how your life starts to change.

3.  Roster versus no roster.  Whilst our 24/7 lifestyle calls for getting out of bed at some pretty hospitable hours (and there are plenty of areas in the roster which could be improved for the better), just remember that there are plenty of people in the world that would absolutely LOVE to do what you do.  Whether it’s due to sickness or an ability to secure employment, be grateful for your job because there are many people who would actually love to be in your shoes – even with those dreaded 4am starts!