3 Ways to Deal With Long Work Hours
November 12, 2013
— internship, Long hours, Overtime, Stress, Stress management, time management, tips
I’ve always been “weird” about time. Despite my implied lack of math skills as a lover of journalism and art, I still wake up during the night and am able to quickly calculate how much time I have left to sleep. I spend time worrying about the time I’ve spent on assignments or whether I’m prioritizing tasks correctly. When traveling, I rush to leave exactly on the hour, packing my belongings hastily and then rarely making any stops in order to get to my destination at exactly the time that Google Maps calculated.
Luckily, last summer’s internship with the Ohio State Fair helped me stress less about time and learn the importance of “being present.” Here are three tips my experience left me with:
1. Don’t stress about what you can’t control. Some days you’ll work longer than you expected. Last summer on several occasions, I had to work 16-hour shifts. One day I had to get up at 2:50 a.m. to coordinate a live traffic broadcast.
I never bothered to try and calculate my missed hours of sleep – it wasn’t worth it! I quickly realized that stressing about my hours wouldn’t improve them. Working overtime isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t kill you. Additionally, when you show up to work optimistic and ready to help, your attitude rubs off on others. Why make everyone miserable? Leave your negativity and stress at the door. Your coworkers will thank you.
2. Leave work at work. Leaving your work at work can be tricky and involves some consideration. Is it worth calling your media partner at 10 p.m. when you know they’re out of the office? Should you send out your press release at an ungodly morning hour?
If your task isn’t something that absolutely needs to be done by the end of the day, leave it! Write a reminder to finish what you were working on in the morning. Save a draft of the email you were working on and send it when you’re coherent enough to proofread it, and at a time when you know the person who’s on the receiving end will actually read it.
3. Take care of yourself. At school, I’m surrounded by amazing peers who do work that exceeds anything others our age should be capable of. With packed schedules, they find ways to function in an unyielding state of busy and stressed.
I cannot stress (pun intended?) how important it is to take care of yourself! As mentioned previously, losing sleep is an inevitable part of having a full-time job. But a busy lifestyle can’t be a continual excuse to treat your body like a garbage disposal. Similarly, constantly forgetting to eat regular meals, refusing help or foregoing needed rest in order to complete a work related project will never make you a hero.
Discuss your workload with your supervisors, know your expectations and utilize your coworkers. At my internship, my fellow coworkers and I would cover each others shifts to make sure we were taking care of ourselves properly. While our teammates were out working with media crews on grounds, we’d even deliver sunscreen, snacks and water bottles to them via golf cart.
All of these points are far easier said than done, but it’s still important to remember to step back from your work and breathe. Next time you’re in a time crunch, do yourself a favor by not letting your doubts and worries control your life.
-Marissa McDaid is a senior studying strategic communication with specializations in sociology and English. Follow her at @mlmcdaid.