It’s the job that doesn’t end… you know the song. This is my anthem at 4am when my eyes are as red as flying the ‘red eye’ to somewhere exotic, except I’m not going anywhere. The next day, my jet lag is a real as coming home from London, even though my workplace is only 17km from home.

This is my reality, and of so many shift workers out there. An upside-down, topsy-turvy life that requires a high level of organisation or madness surely sets in!

Here are my top tips for staying organised and calm through the roller coaster of shift work:

1) Have a designated work bag. There are 2 reasons for this. The first being, you don’t want to feel like you’re going to work all the time. Second, shift work requires you to carry some slightly unusual items. In my work bag, there’s a toothbrush and toothpaste for that middle-of-the-night freshen up. There are green tea bags in case the staff room is out. There’s my mug. There’s also my ID badge, cardigan, random alcohol swabs and a book that I’ve started reading just in case there’s a quiet moment to pick it up on a long night (I wish!) All I do before a shift is grab my phone, keys, wallet and snack and I’m good to go.

2) Plan out all family meals for an entire week and shop only once. I don’t have time to go to the supermarket more than once a week for a decent shop. I plan out all my meals, (usually just on the fly while I’m at the supermarket!) I make sure they are quick, easy and healthy, and write them on a list on the fridge so my family know what’s on the menu for the week. This way, whoever is home at meal times can get stuck in. This saves us so much time and money too.

3) Keep hydrated! Just like long haul flying, the jet lag is worse when you’re dehydrated. Drink plenty of water while you’re at work and your body will thank you when you’re sleeping all day after a night shift.

4) Declutter your bedroom. Make it a sanctuary to escape to when you are home. Invest in a good mattress, linen that you love, a beautiful mirror, a piece of art. Get rid of all unnecessary clutter. Hang block out blinds to make it dark even during the day. The more organised and calm your bedroom, the more quality rest you will get between shifts.

5) Outsource stuff. As my hours increased, I started to pay someone to do my ironing. Get a cleaner. Pay to have your car washed. Claim back some of your time by outsourcing.

6) Be kind to yourself. When you spend all day looking after others, you need some time to look after yourself. Get fresh air, walk, pray, stretch, breathe, laugh, see and old friend, watch a movie, bake cupcakes. Do something fun that fills your tank before it is empty again.

7) Be proud of what you do. With every shift you’re adding a little sweetness to the world

Guest Blogger – Christy Le Page, ICU Nurse