How many times have your long awaited days off finally arrive, only to have them fly by in a second? You begin with the best of intentions, but by the time work rolls around again you feel like you’ve done nothing, achieved nothing, and actually need another four days off to get through your to do list! This is where your planner comes in…
It’s all about making plans, writing a to do list and setting achievable goals that aren’t too overwhelming, in order to make sure you get the most out of your days off. Side note – this tool is especially useful when trying to plan catch ups with other shift working friends!
Personally, I use a monthly calendar and a weekly planner and I also use the app ‘Shift Worker’ to keep track of all my shifts in my phone. I start off by writing all my shifts in my calendar and planner, which are highlighted in yellow. Then, I pencil in my planned exercise for the week in my planner (although I always write my personal training session in pen and highlight it in pink.) Those are my non negotiables, I fit my workouts around my shifts and then everything else fits in around those!
I remember reading ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for Teens’ when I was about 15, and the book suggested making a weekly list of the big things you needed to achieve – these are your big rocks, and all the everyday things that take up your time are pebbles. By putting these big things in your planner first, you are then able to work all the other things around them, much like you would if you had a glass jar and put the big rocks in first, then the pebbles. When you try it the other way (pebbles first, big rocks last) you’ll find you’re not using your space as effectively and things just won’t fit as well!
Here are my tips for using a planner to keep on top of life and ensure you are making the most of your time off –
Write out your shifts first – that way you have a clear idea of when you have to be at work and when you don’t, and you can therefore start the planning process to help you effectively utilise your days off!
Make a list of the important things you need to achieve that week – these will look different for everyone depending on your personal priorities! For me, it will probably be something along the lines of ‘work shifts, clean house, do washing, finish uni assignment, gym, morning walks, meditate daily.’ Additionally, I’ll look at my planner and try and fit in catch ups with my friends (especially difficult when they’re also shift workers.)
Work out what your non-negotiables are – mine are going to the gym on my days off (working 12 hour shifts limits me on work days), my morning walks, meditation and (as discussed in my previous post) time for self care. I always make time for these because I know that without them I start to feel stressed, burnt out and exhausted.
Take time to be organised – by sitting down on a Sunday night and taking ten minutes to write out my plan for the week ahead, I am able to get clear and focused on my goals and what I want to get done in that week. Additionally, think ahead and schedule in time to prep quick and easy healthy meals that you can take to work! This is another time saving measure that I have found to be so helpful in freeing up my days off, helping me save money and having one less thing to stress about when leaving the house in the mornings!
Don’t overcommit – make sure that you are making time for self care, and to relax and recharge on your days off. Overcommitting will just cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious. It’s important that you listen to yourself and take time for you when you need it – there’s no point in showing up to a lunch date if you’re exhausted, moody and would much rather be at home.
Buy a planner/calendar – this might seem obvious, but I have spoken to a few of my friends and they have said that having nice pens and a beautiful calendar/planner makes a world of difference…meaning that they actually use it! Spend the money on something that works for you and you’ll be more inclined to integrate it into your life. Kikki K, Typo and Etsy are great places to start looking!
Do a daily to do list – I like to write a smaller list for each of my days off in order to make sure I don’t miss anything that I really need to do.
Since using a calendar and planner I have found that my days off are so much more productive, and I am usually able to get through everything on my (achievable and realistic) to do list, as well as fit in social engagements, uni work and anything else that may come up in my week!
Please let me know in the comments if this post helped you at all, or if you have any other tips for balancing life and shift work!
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