9 Tips for Managing a Grueling Work Schedule

Posted by Matt Schwartz on Thu, Jun 18, 2020 @ 11:06 AM

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Many people may have to face a 60-hour work week on occasion, but some employees find themselves keeping this kind of schedule fairly often. If so, they may end up feeling overworked, which can have negative effects on their health and productivity – and lead to job burnout.  

When this happens, even though a person needs to be productive, they find themselves lacking sufficient energy to make progress. Of course, an employee may not have a choice but to work the long hours their job demands, since they don’t want to be fired.

If this describes you, here are some tips via thebalance.com to help you survive those grueling 60-hour work weeks.

Remember to Take Breaks

Although it is important to stay focused on your work, it is equally crucial to take periodic breaks from it. This may sound counter-intuitive. If you take time away from your tasks won't that mean it will take longer to complete them? The opposite is true. After working on something for a very long time, you may find yourself losing focus. Your ability to concentrate will improve after you take a short break.

Keep Up With Your Exercise Routine

A particularly busy time at work may not be the best time to begin a new fitness regimen, but if you already work out regularly, don't stop now. While you may not have time for your usual 32-mile bike rides, if that's your thing, you can fit in a shorter trek.

Exercise relieves stress and, with a 60-hour work week, you may be experiencing plenty of it. Job stress can cause many health problems, so the less you have, the better. Find time for fitness, either before work or when you get home.

If that isn't possible, take a walk during your lunch hour or any breaks you can fit into your busy schedule.

Make Time for Fun

Many people faced with having to work sixty hours a week may envision a schedule that looks like this: Go to work, come home, sleep, go back to work, come home, sleep, and so on. That leaves room for nothing else.

You have to fit something pleasurable into that routine, or you will be miserable. While you may not have time to do it more than once or twice a week, you can find a couple of hours here and there to go to a movie, watch your favorite TV show, have a picnic, or just hang out with your friends and loved ones. If you don't make time for fun, you could come to resent your job.

Drink Plenty of Water

It is imperative to stay well-hydrated, not just for your body, but also for your mind. "Water is essential for brain function," according to nutrition expert Shereen Lehman (When Do You Need to Drink More Water?). "If you're having trouble concentrating," says Lehman, "it may be time for a water break."

Do you find water boring? Add slices of lemon, orange, or apple (or all three) to it to give it a light flavor without a lot of calories.

Limit Your Caffeine Intake

It is not uncommon for people to reach for caffeinated beverages, like coffee and soda, when working long hours. While they may help you stay alert, at least for a short time, too much of a good thing can make you jittery and can cause gastrointestinal problems.

Don't give up the coffee altogether — at least not during this stressful time — but refrain from overdoing it. The last thing you need is to feel shaky and have an upset stomach while trying to get work done, not to mention the crash you will experience when you come down from that caffeine high (or the sleepless night that will happen if you don't).

Avoid Working Seven Days a Week

When you have a lot to do, it may seem better just to keep going without taking any days off at all. That's a terrible idea. It will be nearly impossible to sustain that kind of schedule without your work and health suffering greatly.

You may not be able to take an entire weekend or two consecutive days off, but you should try to keep one full day work-free. You need at least that much time to refresh your body and mind. When you return to work, you will be in a much better state to do your job well.

Don’t Overdo it With Junk Food

When you are in the middle of a non-stop work schedule, junk food may seem like your only choice for meals. It's fast and pleasing to your palate. This is especially true when you are stressed out and craving salty and sweet foods. As you might suspect, there are better options. Junk food may satisfy your cravings, and it will fill you up, but it is also full of empty calories and little nutrition. You need to fuel your body with food that is nourishing.

Although you probably won't have time to prepare a full meal, you can make a large bowl of salad to last you for a few days. Add a hard-boiled egg, canned tuna, or rotisserie chicken for protein. Hard-boiled eggs will keep in your refrigerator for up to a week, and you can buy a prepared rotisserie chicken at your grocery store. You will have several ready-made healthy meals and won't be tempted to run out to a fast food place to grab a quick burger and fries. Bring whole fruits or get a fruit salad at the store.

Get Enough Sleep

Experts believe adults should sleep an average of eight hours each night. Some may need a little more and others a bit less. It may feel like getting a good night of uninterrupted sleep is an impossible dream, but without it, you may be plagued by fatigue and difficulty concentrating during the day.

Sleep experts advise you to try to get to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including days you don't have to go to work. A short nap (no more than fifteen to twenty minutes) could help refresh you during the day.

Try to Accommodate Your Morning Person or Night Owl Preferences

Are you an early riser, or do you prefer to stay up into the wee hours of the morning? If you have to spend extra hours working, why not try to do it when you are at your best? While working overtime usually means staying after the typical work day ends at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., find out if you can instead put in extra hours before the regular start of business if that is more compatible with your preferences.

If that option isn't available, you can still use your time efficiently. If, for example, you like starting your day at sunrise (or before), use that time to do things you would otherwise do when you get home...if your job ended at a reasonable hour.

By following the aforementioned advice, perhaps you’ll be able to make a tough work schedule survivable.    

Topics: Worksite Wellness, Employee Engagement