How To Stay Sane Working 10+ Hours A Day

This one is a tough one. If you’re anything like me, your normal work schedule has left you feeling frustrated, rushed, and overwhelmed. You may be working 12 hour shifts, you may have a long commute, or maybe you just have a lot of obligations that require you to be gone all day. Either way, I’m going to explain exactly how I get through my long weeks and feel good about it!

Plan Out Your Week

I wear my planner out! I write everything down in that thing. My planner is seriously my best friend and it’s the only way I stay organized during such busy weeks. I was worried I wouldn’t use it much after college but I actually use it a little more!

For work each day, I leave my house at 5:10 AM and don’t get home until 6:00 PM. I typically don’t write this in my planner since it’s a consistent schedule. I do write if I am taking the day off, working at a different location, or have a big work event to remember.

I write in holidays, birthdays, and any other social events I need to be aware of. On Sunday or Monday, I look a week or two ahead to see if there’s anything I need to add to my to-do list, such as buying a birthday gift for my nephew.

I create a list of the things I’d like to get accomplished each day and then another list of things I need to get accomplished by the end of that week. This helps me keep track of smaller things that I don’t want to forget. I even write things like: go to the grocery store.

Never underestimate the power of simply being organized. Writing it down helps your brain relax a bit, since you can refer to your list to remember. I also like to set alarms on my phone if it’s something really important, like a doctors appointment or if I need to renew the registration for my car (yes, I plan that far in the future).

Plan Out Your Meals

I don’t necessarily meal prep. Having a PLAN for meals does help significantly with my time in the evenings.

For breakfast during the week, we have options like fruit, toast, granola bars or something else that’s simple and easy. We get up early enough that neither of us are really hungry until a bit later. I just make sure to pack extra snacks like pretzels, cheese, and fruit to help keep us full during the day.

For lunch, I try to keep a few options available as well. It’s usually a salad, a sandwich, a Lean Cuisine meal (if we’re short on time), or leftovers (if we have any). I get lunch meat and cheese from the deli, since it tastes better and encourages us to eat it quicker since it goes bad faster. We typically are able to use it all before it goes bad! The nice part is that after a few weeks, you know how much you need and you can order that much exactly.

I go a little far for dinner and make freezer meals from The Freezer Family every few weeks. These meals can all be thrown in the crockpot to cook while you’re away from home. It’s a little bit to plan it out, but during the week they are SO nice to have prepared. However, I do get nervous and I bought a smart smoke alarm so I don’t have to worry about the dogs if something goes wrong. This way, it alerts my phone if it’s going off and I can have my mom or a neighbor run over and check on things.

Another thing I do for dinner is prep/marinade meat in case we want something quick and healthy to grill. I just store the meat in Tupperware until we’re ready to grill it. I try to keep 4-5 meals ready at a time, so that we always have something ready to go. I don’t like to put out more than this in order to keep things from going bad.

Don’t Be Lazy

This one is really hard for me. After a long day of work, I don’t want to come home to cook, clean up, pack lunches, etc. I want to go shower and go to bed. I just tell myself that it’s only 4 days of non-stop, then I can slow down and take a break. Of course, this is a luxury, as some work random schedules, or two jobs, and don’t get a solid 3 days off every week. I’ve been there before too!

It helps to remember that I’m hustling now in order to slow down later. I know there’s a lot of stuff I need to do. I find that just getting things done throughout the week makes my weekends better since there’s a lot of things I don’t have to worry about, this helps my motivation on weeknights.

For example, I keep the sink completely empty. It sucks washing dishes after dinner but it makes prepping food the next day that much easier. Especially if I want to use the same pot or pan to cook in later. It’s already clean and dry!

I try to wash laundry throughout the week rather than all at once on the weekend. I will throw clothes in the washer in the morning, put them in the dryer when I get home, and then lay them all flat in our spare bedroom until I have time to put them away. This helps me do a little at a time rather than spending hours on Sunday.

Stay Organized and Prepared

Staying organized is one of the most important tips I have. I cannot stress it enough!

Set out clothes for the week. Especially for women, that cuts out a lot of time deciding what to wear. I put the entire outfit on a hanger at the front of my closet. Even if you have to wear a uniform, having the whole outfit hung and ready to go cuts down so much time.

Clear up any clutter in your house each day. I do a deep clean on the weekends so that during the week, I vacuum, de-clutter, and I’m good to go! I only spend 10 to 15 minutes cleaning and each morning, my house feels fresh and I don’t have to come home to a mess.

I prepare my coffee every night. The only thing I want at 4 AM is a cup of coffee. On nights where I’m lazy, I ALWAYS regret it the next morning when I have to wait for my coffee to be done.

I make sure my alarm is set and I leave my phone away from my bed. It’s in our master bathroom so I have to get up to shut it off. I always try to make our bed before I leave for the day too. With a made bed, it’s far less tempting to jump back in it!

Most Important

Most importantly, remember that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Take a sick day if you need to. Having a busy schedule is difficult and it can take a long time to get used to.

Try to remember what you are working towards. If it doesn’t make sense, take a few days to consider where you’re going. It sucks feeling stuck. Talk to your family, or friends, or coworkers about it.

Your mental health is so important and you need to put that first. Trust me, there are many employers who agree and have no issues with a sick day to de-stress.

So take some time this weekend to relax, prep, and get organized for the week.

You got this!


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I graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Communication. Photography and writing have both always been a passion of mine. I love sharing and hearing stories, both are such great ways to do so! In my free time, I love to drink coffee and hang out with my dogs. I have a great big German Shepherd and a tiny Porkie (Pomeranian & Yorkie).