Help me balance my crazy schedule !
February 14, 2015 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Between work and school, my schedule is insane right now and I need to be awake at all hours of the day at different times in the week. I'm starting to gain weight and let Important Things slip. I'm normally suspicious of "life hacks" but I'm wondering - those of you who have had similarly insane schedules - were there any habits that made things much easier? Any things that made it harder?

I work 2pm-7am (evening/overnight double) every Tuesday and Friday, plus 2pm-11pm every oter weekend. I have class from 9a-12pm Monday, Tuesday and sometimes Thursday or Friday.

I've kept this up since Jan 1st but I've already gained five lbs. It's been really hard for me to grocery shop, cook and plan meals when there are so many variables. I eat fast food too often and basically eat whenever I come across food.

I'be also stopped running because when I do have some free time all I want to do is veg out with my computer.. but this always eats up several hours and it makes me feel bad about myself.

I guess I'm asking - how do I prioritize my time to best meet my needs? For example, I freaked out that I was gaining weight so I meticulously planned out my meals for the week - that majorly backfired because my schedule is so insane and I ended up eating Ben and Jerrys for several meals. So putting time into cooking/meal planning isn't helping.

But I've also kept up with a squat challenge that I can do throughout the day, and that has made me feel great.

Some things in my favor -
1. My work is very non-stressful and if I work the overnight I can catch an hour of sleep.
2. I have no problem sleeping any hour of the day, even when I'm not overtired.
3. Schoolwork is semi under control - I have a good study schedule down when I can stick to it and the material is not til hard. But the minuta is hurting me - due dates and things like that.

I tried an organizer app on my phone but I have a hard time following through. I think giving up my computer time might be really beneficial.

I realize this is all over the place but so am I. Any advice is appreciated.
posted by pintapicasso to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think giving up my computer time might be really beneficial.

Can you browse the 'net (or whatever you currently do while on the computer) while at work? I'm thinking that it might be very difficult to completely cut computer time from your life—more realistic to limit use to specific times.
posted by she's not there at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2015

Bring healthy meals and snacks to work with you. I know when you're bored or exhausted working an overnight shift the temptation to indulge in some junk food is all but irresistible, but bringing healthy food is just about the only way to break that cycle.

I totally get it that when you come home you just want to sit like a zombie and stare at your computer. I've worked a schedule like that, and we all did the same thing. When you get a day off, your brain is fried and your whole body aches. The human body just isn't meant to flip back and forth between working days and overnights like that. If your job is low-stress, use that time to study and do other stuff that requires your brain. Don't think of your days off as the time when you'll get things done, because you'll probably spend those days recovering.

I'm assuming you're in your early twenties. Even so, that schedule is gonna grind you down fast. Get yourself some more reasonable, steady hours, as soon as you possibly can.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:13 PM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

That is a really demanding schedule and I hope it's temporary! I can't imagine that being beneficial long term. Some things that might help though

--Agree with doing computery stuff during your work hours if possible. All my friends not in like retail or food service spend a good chunk of hours browsing during work. Also this might be a good time to do hw?

--Get a planner. I prefer written ones rather than phone apps. RE: due dates and stuff, set your own due dates that are a few days before the actual due dates and commit to getting stuff done by then; if you slip up, at least you'll have a little leeway

--Get some audiobooks that you really like that you only listen to while you run. That will give you a little more external motivation for running and it will also allow you to have some "entertainment time" while you exercise so leaving the computer might be a little easier.

--Re: food. Try to make bulk food during the weekend if you can. But if you don't have time, you might have to go with lesser evil convenience food. People might disagree but surely a fairly low sodium lower-cal microwave meal and some microwave steamed vegetables is a better alternative to McDicks or Ben and Jerry's but it's no less convenient or quick. You can also grab some low cal single serve ice cream to swap it out for as dessert. It should net you a lot less calories and help mitigate the weight gain.
posted by hejrat at 7:58 PM on February 14, 2015

Here's an AskMe thread of Stress Savers that I requested when I started heading into the busy period that I currently am still in. I have to say, these tips, however obvious they may seem, make a huge difference.

Of all of these, perhaps the most impact for the smallest investment of time and money is that commitment to never run out of anything: to buy double and extra of whatever are your staples every single time you go to the store. That way, you never, ever, face the 2 AM crushing realization that you're out of that one thing that makes life civilized - whether it be TP, coffee, cat little, saline solution or whatever.
posted by Miko at 8:09 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Your post is completely coherent, well articulated, and I really feel for you.

You've gotten some excellent responses - Ask MeFi is a wonderful resource. The schedule you describe - well known to medical residents and nurses - can wreak havoc with your circadian rhythms...sleep, eating, and metabolism.

One thing I'd add is: human connection. A major sanity saver in these situations is making some time - as best you can - for real connection - heart to heart, eye to eye - with people you feel good about and feel good with. The most difficult part of what you describe is the potential for feeling really lonely and out of kilter. Human connection helps regulate us, physically and emotionally. Moments of human to human warmth and connection - that's my two cents. It's a life-saver that's easy to overlook.
posted by ferkit at 9:30 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hello there, stress buddy! I'm in almost exactly the same boat as you right now (full time work, five classes per week, running, and family obligations) and here's what's helping me.

- Food just isn't going to get made so I'm really strict about what I'm purchasing. When I'm out, I stick to salads and fat and proteins. This makes me CRAVE sugar like crazy so I'll take that edge off with some lightly sugared brewed tea (only 30-50 calories but it tastes like more). No candy, no ice cream, no pastries, ever. Drink water consistently throughout the day, too. I'll make you feel better all around.

- To do lists! Always written by hand as the tactile permanence helps me remember better. Also! They become out of date week by week and getting to throw them away helps your sense of accomplishment.

- Running buddy. I have no motivation to get to the gym with this schedule so I've recently asked a friend to train along with me, so now the consequence for missing gym is social as well as personal.

- Days off. Take an entire day once a week where you don't do anything work-related. Every time you even start THINKING about what's next on your to-do list, or how to tackle an assignment, actively stop yourself. It's annoying at first, but you'll get accustomed to doing it quickly and you'll be able to have fun. You can get back to work the next day.
posted by greenland at 9:05 AM on February 15, 2015

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