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How to Work Around a Challenging Schedule With a New Job

By Kat Boogaard

Perhaps your new job requires some long and grueling hours from you. Or, maybe you’ve found yourself working an unusual shift for the first time in your life. Either way, you’re worried about just how well you’ll mesh with this brand new schedule of yours.

Let’s face it—work makes up a big part of our lives. There are many of us who feel as if our daily routines consist of work, sleep, repeat. And, this only becomes more apparent when your work schedule gets flipped on its head—you feel like you have no time for anything else.

But, don’t stress quite yet. If you’re faced with a challenging schedule at your new job, there are a few things you can do to improve the process and make your transition at least a little bit easier.

1. Know the Rules

Of course, hopefully you understood the schedule demands before you accepted this new position. But, now it’s time to get the lowdown on all of the nitty gritty details you’ll need about this new work routine.

How many personal days do you get to take care of any necessary appointments or functions? That’s important to know—particularly if you’ll be working really strange hours. Are there any policies or rules for how many hours you can work, how many breaks you need to take, or any other considerations? Make sure you know those now to avoid any legal headaches down the road.

It might seem like a basic step. But, before you can start coping with your new schedule, you first need to ensure that you understand it.

2. Recognize What Changes Need to Happen

Next, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that a big shift in your work schedule is also going to mean a pretty big shift in the rest of your life.

For example, your old night owl tendencies will no longer be suitable if you now need to get up for work at 4AM. Or, your weekly book club meeting might need to be moved if your new job demands that you work at that time.

It’s far too easy to compartmentalize your job from the rest of your life—particularly when it comes to your schedule. However, you need to take a look at your existing obligations and see what changes are going to need to be made to accommodate your new job. That’s important! Big changes normally require other big changes to happen.  

3. Write it Out

Once you have a solid handle on all of that, you might be tempted to just wing it day after day. But, that’s a surefire way to feel frazzled and stressed—or worse, let things slip through the cracks.

Instead, it’s best if you sit down and try to draw out a rough outline of what each day and week should look like. Block out your new working times, and then do your best to fit everything else around that.

This will help you avoid that, “All work and no play” feeling that’s easy to fall victim to when your work schedule suddenly takes a dramatic turn.

4. Continue to Make Time for What’s Important

As you’re mapping out your new schedule, take extra care to ensure that you’re leaving plenty of time for things outside of work—including those important habits like sleep and exercise.

Making sure that you reserve time each week for those things—as well as the passions and hobbies you enjoy—is important to lead a well-rounded life that isn’t totally centered on your work schedule.

Often, when we’re faced with a drastic shift in our work schedules, it’s these things that get tossed out the window and fall off our calendars first. But, don’t let that happen to you. Yes, it might mean some juggling in your schedule, but it’s well worth it to maintain adequate work/life balance (not to mention your sanity).

5. Give Yourself Time

Dealing with a challenging new work schedule is just that: challenging. You won’t feel totally acclimated overnight, and that’s perfectly normal.

This adjusted schedule is causing some pretty big changes and disruptions in the daily life you’ve grown accustomed to. So, don’t pressure yourself to feel totally comfortable and used to things after a day—or even a week.

Leave yourself plenty of time to get adjusted before making any judgments about whether or not these work hours are suitable for you.

There’s no denying that working around a demanding schedule at your new job can require some adjusting. And, that’s OK!

Just remember to get familiar with what’s required, map out a new schedule for yourself, and continue to leave adequate downtime for the things you enjoy, and your adjustment should be relatively seamless.

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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