1. Wake up earlier than you have to: I know this seems counterintuitive. If you’re working from 8am to 11pm the last thing you want to do is lose precious minutes of sleep but trust me, this helps. Even if you only give yourself and extra 15 minutes in the morning. Here’s the catch, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use this time for work or anything work related. This is 15 minutes (or, if you’re a morning person, more than 15 minutes) to do something for yourself. I don’t care what it is — run a mile, go to a coffee shop, watch good morning America, talk to your roommate, anything that will make you feel personally accomplished.
2. Don’t go straight to bed when you get home: I know, I know I’m just cutting into your sleep but hear me out — beginning and ending a long day with something that is just for you is crucial to making it through those grueling work hours. Chances are this isn’t your dream job, so don’t let it take over your life. You will be a much better employee if you are happy. So read a book, watch a rerun of Friends, or listen to your favorite song. Something, anything that will take your mind off work before you drift off to sleep.
3. Sleep: No, I’m not contradicting myself. I’m suggesting that you take a few minutes when you wake up and before you go to sleep to do something for you. I am not suggesting that you stay up to all hours of the night binge watching Netflix. We’ve all done it, and it won’t just ruin your day the following day, it will make you tired for days because when you work that much there is no time to catch up on sleep. Sadly, mid afternoon naps between classes is something we had to leave behind in college.
4. Eat healthy: It makes you feel better… blah blah blah. The real reason you should eat healthy is because there will come a day, an awful, long, miserable day, where you desperately need comfort food. If you have been eating healthy, you won’t feel bad allowing yourself the splurge on mac and cheese, ice cream, etc. And never underestimate the healing powers of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s…
5. Talk to your friends: Do you have any that live in different time zones? Perfect! Call your east coast friends in the morning — perhaps on your way to work — and your west coast friends after work. (For those of you who live in California — maybe you have friends in China who will be on their morning commute when you are headed home.) Whatever you have to do, make it happen. Your friends are your lifeline. They will let you complain, make you laugh, tell you about their day. No matter what you talk about, a chat with a friend will leave you happy and energized.
6. Make plans: When you know you’re going to have free time make plans with friends. First of all, it will give you something to look forward to when you’re struggling through a long week at work. Also, if you don’t proactively make plans you will end up wasting away your precious little free time with Netflix or naps or something not nearly as fun as hanging out with your friends.
7. Cross everything off your boring “to do” list on Saturday and Sunday: Trust me on this one, there is nothing worse than getting off work after a long day and realizing that you’re out of underwear and have to stay up to do your laundry or in my case fall asleep sometime during the wash cycle and have to blow dry a pair of underwear in the morning. Yes, that really happened. Please learn from my mistake and do your laundry on Saturday. You can cook or watch TV or go for a run while it’s in but make sure you get it done. Also, run your errands. Don’t allow yourself to skip this one or you’ll be trying to find a 24 hour convenience store when you get off work to buy toothpaste because you used the last of yours that morning. Save yourself the time and stress, the weekends are your friend both for fun and necessities.
8. Last but not least, and the most important thing you can do: Take it one day at a time. Remember, you are gaining amazing experience — hey you worked two full work years in one year — talk about learning a lot. Work hard and take some time for you.