How To: Get Through A Long Shift

Today, instead of complaining about how retail is draining my energy and leaving me with no time to write, I thought I'd be a bit more productive and give yall some tips on how to get through a long day of doing things you don't necessary want to do.


Compartmentalise
View each task or section of the day separately, rather than viewing the whole thing as one giant, gaping, nine hour stay in the pits of hell. For instance, after I come back from my break I'll pretend it's the start of a completely new five hour shift. Any way you can break the day up into sections will help, because mentally it's a lot easier to deal with a bunch of smaller tasks than one massive one. Science fact.

Eyes On The Prize
Remember why you're there. Yes, most likely because of money, but beyond that. Whenever I feel like I'd rather throw myself down the escalators than fold another shirt I think about London, and how much easier my life is going to be/all the things I'm going to be able to do as a direct result of the work I'm doing. If I'm really struggling I'll think of specific things I can do with however much I'm earning that day/hour and it usually makes things seem a bit more worthwhile.

Don't Check The Time
A watched pot never boils, yall, and if you're checking the time every two minutes then SURPRISE it's going to go by two minutes at a time. If you forget about it and focus on what you're doing then by the time you do eventually check it will hopefully have been long enough for you not to have to make an exasperated exhaling noise and violently redirect your gaze skyward. If you must do that, don't do it in front of customers. It's not their fault you're there. Blame capitalism. But also don't because eventually it's gonna help you spend that $$ ur making in a satisfying manner.

Dress Smart
Look good, be comfortable, be confident. I don't always follow this advice myself. If we're being real I look like shit a lotttt of the time at work, but I'm always happier on the days when I do not. Full disclosure I feel life in general is a lot better when I look good, and if I'm going to get through the day without cracking I need all the help I can get. However, if you wake up one day just feeling like what you require from your outfit is comfort rather than style, go with that. Listen to your heart. Wear a jumper that feels like pyjamas but also looks vaguely like people clothes. Try not to look too bad though because there are a lot of mirrors in stores and the lighting is not great either.

Use The Rest Of Your Day
One of the worst things about a long shift is that it can feel as though it's taking up your entire day, and although you are technically using your time well because you're making that sweet, sweet dollar bill, if your job isn't particularly stimulating it can feel as though you're wasting your time. This is why using the parts of your day when you're not at work is so important. I try to wake up a few hours before I actually need to so that I can chill out and get things done in the morning before I even go to work. This links in with the concept of starting the day with a Power Hour - introduced to me by Alex Ikonn - to set a tone of productivity and get you off to a bloody ripper of a start. Similarly, make plans for after work, whether it's seeing friends or just doing something at home, so there's something to look forward to. Make it so that work is part of your day, not the entire thing. Because that is very. draining. indeed.

Find A Focus
Find one specific task that you know will take up a decent amount of time and lock yourself onto it. For example, go through a shelf and fold everything so perfectly it looks like a machine did it. Fill in repetitive forms. Tuck in all the price tags in the entire store. Pick something that requires little to no conscious effort, switch off your brain and watch the time FLY BY.

Sneakily Do Other Things (Mentally)
Recite movies in your head. Sing real quiet. Go through conversations you have not yet had and figure out how to get the best possible outcome. This is not great advice in terms of "being good at your job", but being mentally elsewhere is ab fab for getting through a painful shift.

Develop A Work Crush
As I have learned over the course of the last 20 or so years, one of the easiest ways to pass time is developing an obsession, and the easiest kind of obsession to develop is a CRUSH, Y'ALL. However, the key to the work crush is for it not to run too deep. You don't want an actual preoccupation that you go home and think about at night, just a lil sumsum to distract you while you're there. We are not aiming for a relationship here, just a distraction. If - like mine - your workplace has more of a sibling vibe going (or if there just literally is not anyone hot), keep an eye out for attractive customers, and if you want to be super efficient set a code word so that your coworkers can alert you to the presence of any solid prospects.

Identify Elements You Actually Enjoy
My job is not the most thrilling in the world, but there are aspects of it that I like more than others. For instance, I frickin love being in the fitting room, and there are certain sections/items of clothing that I like folding more than others. Figure out which aspects of your job feel the least soul-draining and gravitate towards those whenever you can.

Interact
My job got a lot more enjoyable when I started actually speaking to the people I work with. The more you interact, whether it's with colleagues or customers, the faster the time goes. Interaction is good for human beings, and it is also a great distraction.
Also chances are interacting with customers is very much part of your job so that's a bonus.

Scheme
The great thing about scheming is that you can do it anywhere. Let your schemes consume you. But in a positive way. Use the time to sort out your life's pressing issues, just don't stand in a corner looking like Mojo Jojo.

Use Your Breaks
If I did not have breaks I would not get through the day. Having time to sit down, eat an entire pizza and remember that there is a life outside the store is like an injection of hope that gives me the will to live on. Things like listening to your own music, reading a book or doing something productive should act as a bit of a reset and give you enough energy to get through the next few hours. Also caffeine. Break time is certainly a time for caffeine.
Also this is off the record and is super not a thing that I do or would suggest to anyone else at all but if you're really smart you can use the basic human right of bathroom breaks very much to your advantage. That's all.

Keep A Notebook
If I could only give you one tip this would be it. At my job we have designated notebooks for work-related memos, but I also have another one where I write down any thoughts, plans or ideas that I have while I'm there and oh my god it is a life saver. If you can't get away with that (or writing in the back of your work notebook, like I did before I upgraded to the luxury of a separate one) keep a piece of paper and a pen in your pocket. Having a place to get your thoughts out and a way to make sure you don't forget things makes you feel as though you still have some level of control, and helps you keep perspective/maintain a level of focus on things outside of work.

So there you have it. This is how I have managed not to have a complete breakdown just yet.
Happy folding/greeting/listening to the shrieks of untamed children.
I take no responsibility if you get fired.

2 comments

  1. well this was excellent, so relatable

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  2. Not really relevant to the post (which was good by the way, full of useful tips and stuff), but the photo really frustrated me because of the fact that you let your charger curl that way aha (I hope you didn't think that was going to be mean aha).

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