Depending on the industry that you work in, you might have consistent shifts scheduled weekly, and you might not! This can come as both a blessing and a curse. However, there is no doubt that irregular shift schedules make forming plans a greater challenge. This can range from hanging out with friends, visiting family, scheduling appointments, or finding child care and pet care. If you are struggling to navigate an irregular weekly work schedule, keep reading!
As we have mentioned many times before on our blog, planning is essential for success in your work life. Planning in advance will not only allow for balance in your life, but you will feel more prepared and ready for your days. Unfortunately, having an irregular work schedule can make planning in advance a challenge. So, it is important to introduce yourself to the backup plan. Due to the fact you are unable to make concrete and secure plans days in advance, make sure each event you prepare for has a backup plan in case you are suddenly called into work. This can include having backup childcare, meals prepared in the fridge, and emergency transportation in place.
Communicating with your management team is crucial for staying happy in the workplace and making sure that your schedule is sustainable. If you have important commitments outside of work, be sure to communicate this with your manager prior to schedule generation. For example, if you know you have a dentist or doctor appointment with a practitioner who is difficult to book with, make sure you ask for time off well in advance. This will help you navigate irregular schedules, while also making sure you take care of your needs outside of work.
Making friends with coworkers will not only make clocking into work more fun, but it will also allow you to build trusting relationships with people in the workplace. This will come in handy when you are unable to make a shift, due to an unexpected conflict. Employees who have set workdays do not often run into this problem, so it is important to communicate with other employees who have irregular schedules. This way, you will be able to ask a coworker you are close with to pick up a shift, or swap shifts with you. Only use this as a crutch for emergencies as asking for coverage too often will give a bad impression to employers.
Finding reliable child care and pet care that you can trust to watch over your loved ones while you are at work is vital. Work on networking to find reliable babysitters in your area who have their own transportation and offer flexible hours. Having a resource like this will come in handy next time you are scheduled for an unexpected shift.
Not everything will go to plan every single week, especially if your work schedule is sporadic. Give yourself a break, you are doing the best you can! Try to be flexible with caretakers, managers, and yourself.