Previously, I spoke about the challenges of working and writing.(The Writing Life: Keep the Day Job)
Today I want to say that I now understand why Millenials are having such a difficult time balancing their lives. Not only is it hard to find a full time jobs, the shift changes from day to day make it almost impossible to have a life outside of work.
Last year I worked as a waitress and, as hard as that was, I loved it. The hours were late and long, but consistent. The job I have now is also hard work, but my hours have no rhyme or reason to them. I work late several nights (past 11 pm) and then have to be in very early in the morning on other days. Shift changes like this make it difficult to get enough sleep every day. I felt young at my old job and now I feel old at my new job.
Millenials suffer the most, I believe, as they never knew a time when this kind of scheduling was frowned on. When I ask co-workers why the scheduling is like this they don’t seem to see it as a problem that can be overcome. They seem to be unaware that they should have better options and that means the job shouldn’t infringe on every waking moment of one’s life.
I’m sure that this sad situation arose out of a need for “flexible scheduling,” but it’s morphed over the years into a chaotic monster that shatters any ability to make plans off company time. I often find I have no idea whether its morning or night while I’m at work – there’s no frame of reference if one starts work at 6pm one day and 8am the next. The hours blend together – endlessly in some grotesque cycle of work and sleep.
The paranoid in me wonders if it’s not a master plot by some evil HR head. To keep from having to listen to employees complain that they don’t want to work late shifts or they don’t want morning shifts – some genius decided to give everyone bizarre schedules . Then the misery is shared and no one can complain their schedule is the worst. They’re all equally bad.
When I worked years ago (in the ’80s) most people were aware that drastic changes in sleep patterns led to poor performance and injuries at work. Now, after a dramatic contraction of the US economy over the past decade and the loss of so many full time jobs as companies turned them into part-time jobs to meet the new mandatory health insurance law (Obamacare), it seems we have to learn these lessons all over again.
Hopefully, better economic days are coming (are they?). Better scheduling might become a bargaining chip once again to retain good employees and lives will improve. I hope so, because these crazy hours are biting into my creative time. I’m not giving up, though, as you can see. I am trying to use my free time better so that I can continue to do the things that make me happy.
Until next time, I’m off to the salt mines! 😉