June 11, 2014

Five Things I Like About Night Shift

We’re already almost halfway through June, and that means that my project’s huge go-live is less than 3 weeks away. I’ve been working on this project for 2.5 years (which is basically the equivalent of at least five normal-length projects in consulting), so it’s hard to believe that the big day is almost here. But along with that big day comes… night shift.

I survived night shifts in back in January, when we had our release 1 go-live, and in fact, I even kind of liked some aspects of being nocturnal. I didn’t have a hard time adjusting in January, since I was able to basically just adjust my schedule to European time and stay consistent with it. (See my post on five tips for dealing with jet lag.)

But let me tell you how much I do not like night shift when it’s the first day that I’m adjusting to it and my body is all out of whack! I got only 3 hours of sleep last night (after finally heading to the bar and getting some wine to help me out in going to bed at 6pm), and I’ll actually need to repeat this adjustment process at least two more times, since our coverage doesn’t actually become full time 24/7 for a few more weeks. (Instead it’s a night shift here, a night shift there… seemingly everywhere, night shifts interspersed with day shifts. How the heck do nurses do it?!)

But I’m trying to stay positive, and so while driving from work to my home hotel for bedtime, I made this quick little list of things I like about night shift.

1. Quick commute. Driving to arrive at work by 8:00am normally takes me about 30 minutes, and if I have an 8:00am meeting, I usually allow extra just in case I hit more traffic than usual. But driving to work at 1:00am, I know I can get there in fifteen minutes max. No traffic jams then!

(Downside: I have to be extra alert on the drive, because the few cars that I AM sharing the road with are frequently drunk. In January, I had to pull my car over to the side of the road when I saw another car barreling down the one-way road in the opposite direction. Scary!)

2. No meetings/distractions. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I spend all day going to meetings, and then I am only finally able to start my work at 6pm. Well, guess when they don’t (usually) schedule status meetings: between the hours of 1am and 6am. So I can get things done!

(Downside: if I DO need to meet with someone in person, it’s nearly impossible to catch them during my waking hours, and I will probably have to give up some of my sleep to accommodate their nice normal person hours.)

3. It’s light when I get out of work. My office doesn’t really have windows, so getting to see the sun is amazing, and something I don’t take for granted.

Command Center Daylight 2014-01-25 09_06_04
This view may just be a parking lot, but it is a SUNNY parking lot, and I am grateful for that.

(Downside: when I walk out into the blinding Texas sunshine, I somehow need to convince my body that it’s time for bed in just another two hours or so. Speaking of which, setting my f.lux/Twilight app to European time is not nearly as fun when I don’t actually get to go to Europe.)

4. Six meals a day. There’s my breakfast when I head to work around midnight, lunch when I’m halfway through my shift around 5am, second breakfast when the morning shift comes in around 9am and brings food, second lunch around 11am when we roll off night shift, and frequently a dinner when I wake up at 6pm and can’t go back to sleep and want to see friends I haven’t seen in a while.

(Downside: since almost no restaurants are open during the hours when I’m eating, half of those meals consist of coffee, granola bars, beef jerky, chips, and candy. Since those are the supplies in our command center, they are also staring me in the face all day, tempting me to eat them instead of holding out for real food when I finish work. I am not so good at resisting.)

5. All that junk food brings me to… two workouts a day! It’s easy to hit the hotel gym when I first wake up, and then go to a pilates or Flywheel class after work. When I’m not working night shift, I usually have no idea when I’ll finish work for the day (6pm? 10pm? Who knows!). But with shift work, I can pretty much count on being done at a certain time, and therefore can sign up for after-work classes before they get closed out. Also, the 11am and 2pm classes don’t tend to sell out anyway, and the hotel gym tends to be empty at 11pm. More equipment for me!

(Downside: the other people working out at those off-hours can also be… off. Like the drunk college students in town for a convention last night, who were slamming the weights around and yelling across the gym at each other. Or the Stepford Wives who are regulars in the daytime classes and make me insanely jealous of how much free time they have and how perfect their bodies look. I definitely don’t fit in with that crew!)

So with that attempt at positivity written down and documented for my next night shift… it’s 2pm, and that means bedtime.


6 thoughts on “Five Things I Like About Night Shift”

  1. Whew, I don’t know how anyone does it! That schedule sounds crazy. When I was just out of school, I was offered an interview for a night shift design job (newspaper). I politely declined.

    But I love that you have a great spin on it!

  2. A little wine before bed? That’s a positive, right? Haha! This sounds really tough, but it is great that you’re making the most of it by looking on the bright side and taking the awesome off-peak workout classes!

    1. Wine before bed is ALWAYS a great thing, and I love that I felt like I “had” to. (Even though yes, I do realize that it probably meant I wasn’t in as deep of a sleep.)

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