How to run on fumes?
August 10, 2005 8:22 PM   Subscribe

I just started a second job, bringing me to 70+ hours a week. This will last until the end of September, when the first job ends. I also commute an hour each way between the jobs. I know, it's nuts. I made a committment to the first (cheesy) job. The second job pays more and has a future. And hell, I need the money. You who have worked two full-time jobs simultaneously: How did you do it? What helped? What should I watch out for? Any suggestions for me?
posted by Methylviolet to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If your one hour commute each way is by car, then I would be careful to be 100% sure that you're not driving impaired. It seems like you're setting yourself up for exactly that.
posted by duck at 8:32 PM on August 10, 2005

Try to find at least one day a week (or 10day or fortnight or whatever) to take completely off, if possible. Working hard and long days, for me at least, isn't so much of a problem - it's working hard AND for long days for a very long time, straight, that kills me.

Since this is fairly short term, having your friends think that you're ignoring them isn't such a large problem, but try to make (some) time for friends/SOs.

Also, watch your sleep. Sleep is important. Sleep if your friend. Go for sleep over friends, if need be (since this is only until the end of Sept..
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:33 PM on August 10, 2005

Sleep is the obvious factor here. Don't use stimulants like caffeine or pills. Your life right now consists of two jobs, commuting, and sleeping. Do your best to get a full night's sleep, and try to squeeze in a catnap sometime during the day. The most dangerous part is the drive home at the end of the 16+ hour day. See if you can minimize this by staying somewhere nearby the second job a few days each week. Even if you have your own apartment, snoozing on a co-worker's couch a few times could save your life.

Also, on a slight derail, have you completely exhausted the option of getting released from the first job early? Most employers would not be terribly thrilled with the notion of holding an employee hostage for 6 weeks, especially one that is embarking on a second full-time job in that time. Seriously, push for them to release you.
posted by MrZero at 9:02 PM on August 10, 2005

I've worked two full time jobs before, and also worked a full time job and gone to school full time. As stated before, as long as you get your sleep, it shouldn't be that bad. If things get rough, remind yourself that you're making two salaries, which should cheer you up. You can also take a sick day from the first cheesy job if you're too tired and you need some extra rest.

If you have a lunch hour that they make you take at either job (ie, you can't work through it to get off work an hour earlier), go out to eat, even if it means taking a bagged lunch to a park. The change of scenery will help.

There's going to be one nice side effect to all this, though. At the end of September, you're still going to be working 40 hours a week (or around that, right?) but you're going to feel like you're on vacation.
posted by cactus at 10:05 PM on August 10, 2005

Like cactus, I've worked two jobs for at least two months twice in my life, plus a full-time night job while taking 18 hours of college courses, plus have had extended durations where I worked a single job 70-80 hours a week.

Each time I did it with sleep depravation, lots of caffeine, and a strong desire to see it through. It was hard each time, my health suffered, I had no social or personal life, and I don't recommend it. But I could do it again if I had to.

The biggest problem is sleep. If I didn't take caffeine, I was groggy and often inattentive for the first and last few hours of the day. Caffeine really kept me going, but I didn't get enough restful sleep.

I treated it as a challenge, a personal marathon, and counted down the days to when thing would return to normal. If you're into stressful quests, financial gain, and don't mind losing sleep, well, it's doable.
posted by F Mackenzie at 11:50 PM on August 10, 2005

I've worked two jobs from 8:00 to 24:00 for six months. I don't even remember a day from that time. I was so tired for the entire period, that my brain was not able to retain any memories.

Then again, you're only doing this for a small amout of time, so as long as you are able to sleep (rest - both phisically and intelectually) you will be all right.

And in the end, like cactus said, you will forever think a 40 hours' week is a piece of cake!

Good luck.
posted by LittlePrince at 3:48 AM on August 11, 2005

Seriously. Massage. It's like magic. Every other week if you can afford it (look for a school of massage if you can't, which get you massaged for about half the going rate.) It's the difference between dead-dog-tired and capable of keeping a little of your former life intact. Also, it keeps your health from suffering so much.

Other thing: You'll be too tired to cook, but a huge downside to restaurant food is all the extra salt. Try to set things up so that you can cook for yourself as much as possible, or all that extra salt and bloating starts to wear you down, too.
posted by desuetude at 6:21 AM on August 11, 2005

With 2 full time jobs, be sure to remember to eat and sleep. I did it for awhile and it drained me and I lost 20 lbs. over the year... I wish I had eaten more.
posted by k8t at 6:35 AM on August 11, 2005

Mine is a very different approach than those mentioned, and it's not necessarily a healthy one. But I've had some periods of my life where I've had to work 100 hour weeks, sometimes a few in a row, with a lot of travelling in there.

Someone in a similar situation turned me on to Provigil, which is the stimulant used to treat narcolepsy. Now, it's probably not healthy, but I never noticed any side effects except that my urine smelled like garbage. Provigil will give you the full "wakefulness" that you may be missing, but I never noticed any "high" per se (like Ritalin or illegal stimulants), no mood shift, just the ability to focus on diminished sleep. It's a legal drug, prescribed by doctors for narcolepsy, which can be diagnosed symptomatically (though not for insurance purposes).

If you can take everyone's else's advice, you should do it -- eat healthy, sleep a full night. Seriously. But if that's not possible in those circumstances, take a look at what the web says about provigil, which is frequently used/abused for short-interval stress like the one you are describing. And of course, everyone responds differently to such things. Try getting enough sleep, before you try Provigil.
posted by cloudscratcher at 7:17 AM on August 11, 2005

As others have said - eat well and sleep as long as you can. I started a new job in a new city and also began volunteering for a further 5 hours a day, plus went out a lot to meet new friends. It totally killed me. I have a really strong immune system, but during that period I got ill again and again.

But I think the problem was not the work and volunteering and nights out, but the fact that I slept 5 hours a night and only ate porridge.

So, the advice: 8 hours a night. An hour of TV or an hour of sleep? Pick the sleep. A quiet drink with an old friend? Take a raincheck.

With food, you're going to have a problem with eating properly because you might just not have time to make proper meals. Try and make something nutritious as much as possible, but when you can't maybe ask a close friend or family member to make you something you can pick up on your way home. Or go to a healthy restaurant for a meal out.

Good luck. And remember, there is nothing work-related that is worth sacrificing your health for.
posted by pollystark at 7:28 AM on August 11, 2005

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