Some people who work the night shift actually work all night. I’m not one of those people.
Sure, I’m technically at work all night. And there are definitely nights when I walk in at 7 p.m. and work in a near frenzy until my relief arrives at 7 a.m.
But there are other nights where there are large chunks of the night – usually the wee hours – that have no tasks to offer. The patients are registered, the charts are up-to-date, the office supplies are fully stocked, the scanning is finished… and those sweet nights offer the gift of time.
It can be helpful to fill downtime with activity to stay fresh and awake.
Well, a specific kind of time. It’s not like I can go do the things I’d really like to do… like sleep for a few hours or boot up my Macbook. And there is a very narrow window of what is considered to be professionally acceptable at a nursing station. It’s not the time to break out the watercolour paints. Painting your nails is also definitely out of the question. The whole team needs to be ready to dive into action at any moment. No wet nails allowed.
I think a lot of night shift workers are in a similar situation. We need to be there—awake and alert—but sometimes we have stretches of downtime. It can be helpful to fill any downtime with activity to stay fresh and awake.
Suitable night shift activities are things that you can easily pick up and put down. Something you can tuck into your work bag and bring with you “just in case” you end up with a few minutes.
Depending on your workstation setup and workplace rules, you could try:
- Reading (fiction! non-fiction! comic books!)
- Solving crosswords and Sudoku puzzles
- Journalling & sketching
- Mending a small clothing item
- Meal planning
- Perusing the flyers
- Planning a vacation
- Taking an online course
- Writing thank you cards
You definitely want to check with your team what is considered acceptable or unacceptable at your job. No sense in getting fired over a knitting project.
Do you have night shift hobbies? Tell us what they are below in the comments!