Adjusting to any new job is a struggle even if you aren’t new to the workforce, but working regular full time hours after being on a flexible student schedule is even more of a challenge. Keep in mind that I say this even though I was a very busy university student. I had a full class schedule and I also worked three jobs: I was a teaching assistant, a retail employee, and a nanny. In addition to school and work, I was also in a serious relationship.
However, despite how busy I was, when I made the shift from student to adult and had to work full time hours (in addition to commuting, being solely responsible for my first mortgage, and running my own household for the first time), I was completely unprepared. I remember coming home from work and going straight to bed for the first several weeks of my employment because I was simply exhausted. “Adulting” is serious business!
If you are in the midst of transitioning to working full time, consider implementing the following in your life:
Get an agenda book. It can feel overwhelming to balance your work and your life. You will have a lot to keep track of, so detailing your new schedule, appointments, to-dos, goals, and important notes all in one place, like in an agenda book, is crucial for staying organized and achieving success. I am old fashioned and believe in putting pen to paper for this task (in fact, I’d rather live without electronic devices completely).
Sleep regularly. You might be used to staying up late, but it’s important to get into a regular routine to help your body adapt. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. My routine is so ingrained in my life that I keep my “work hours” over the weekend, too. I promise that your body clock will adjust, it just takes time. Having said that…
Put your alarm across the room. Sleep is good, but oversleeping is not. The consequences for sleeping in and missing class are very different than the ones you’ll receive for not showing up to work. If your alarm clock is not within easy reach, you can’t turn it off accidentally or hit snooze on purpose.
Prepare in advance. Week day mornings can be hectic if you are trying to get everything done at the last minute and stressful if you end up forgetting something in your haste. Plan your outfit the day before, make your lunch in advance (use a meal planner to make this task easier – this one also helps organize your grocery shopping!), and put everything that you need to take with you by the front door.
Stay active. Exercise gives you energy, so regardless of how tired you are, don’t skip your workout. I prefer to exercise in the mornings so that I don’t have to worry about it after work, but I know that it may sound daunting to wake up even earlier than you absolutely have to right now. I suggest getting active over your lunch break or immediately after work (don’t go home first because your couch will tempt you!). I use a Fitbit to remind myself to keep moving during the day.
Keep your hobbies. I’m not going to lie and say that working 9-5 isn’t a drag. It gets monotonous fast, so you need to incorporate things to look forward to in your life. Continue your hobbies and make time to have fun!
Don’t just live for weekends. In the same vein as my point above, don’t be one of those, “is it Friday yet?” people. If you only live for the weekends, then you are wasting a good chunk of your life because most of us spend more waking hours working than doing anything else (unfortunately!). The way I look at it is this: my job is a necessary evil that sucks a lot of time away from my life, so I’m not about to let it infringe on my personal and family time too. Work gets your 9-5 hours every week, but you get the rest of the day whether it’s a weekend or not. Make the most of it!
Eat regularly. Make sure that you bring healthy snacks to work to avoid eating all of the junk that will be available at the office (and you thought the freshmen fifteen was bad – just wait!). Also, no matter how busy you are, make sure that you take time for lunch. If you can squeeze in a walk, bonus!
Track your accomplishments. Make sure that you take the time to track your accomplishments at work while they are fresh in your mind. You never know when you will need to speak about them in an interview and it’s also a lot easier at review time if you’ve made an ongoing list rather than frantically trying to think of all your projects at the last minute. My regular readers know that I’m a list person, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that it also feels pretty good to see everything you’ve achieved spelled out on paper.
Share your tips for adjusting to working full time below! I’m thinking about doing a career series, so let me know if you think this content is valuable (or not!). Thank you for reading.
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