Reflections after a Year of Working 10 Hrs Shifts and How I Achieved Work-Life Balance (Sorta)

Reflections After a Year of Working

It’s been exactly a year since I’ve been thrust into a 10 hours shift shift. One year of sitting in desk, answering emails, solving incidents and documenting everything in between. It’s my first job so I’m trying to put my best foot forward. Getting to the office at least fifteen minutes earlier and staying until needed. Trying to handle all the new roles and responsibilities that are handed to you, and being “Yes, sir/ma’am, I can do it” all the time to show you can handle the job – and handle it good.

It’s been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, and trying to sneak in a hint of social life at every chance I can. It’s been rough. I said goodbye to long weekends – or just weekends, in general – for a while. There are days I just want to stay in bed and rest, but I can’t since I have work to do. There are days when all I wanted to do was hang out with my family on a holiday because, duh, it’s a holiday, but I can’t.

So many missed events, but, hey, that’s being a responsible worker. Or so I thought. It took me a while to at least have a decent work-life balance. I think it took me three straight weeks of being (very) busy at work to think, “Hey, this is not cool. I am not handling this properly.” A few failed attempts before I started to have some sense of work-life balance. I am still working as needed but I am not so burnt out come weekends that I was able to start having out of town trips in between. Thus, I was only really able to travel on the last few months of 2015.

Like I said, it’s been a lot better now. I know my schedule and I can plan around it. Here are the top 3 things I do to have a better work-life balance.

1. Learnt how to say “no” and to stop being a martyr.

There was a point in time that I was the “I can do that” person. You know, I was starting out, and I wanted to impress so I was always yes, yes, yes to tasks even if it’s only five minutes before my shift ends and I end up staying an hour or two later than was expected of me. Or even attending a meeting than happens an hour after my shift ends because, “What if I miss something?” Over time, I learned to change my “yes” to “I can do that first thing tomorrow” or “I’ll get back to that.” Of course, I don’t mind staying a few hours over my shift or do overtime if it’s urgent, but if it’s not, I’ve learned to let go and do it on my next working shift.

2. Drew a line between personal and professional time.

This isn’t easy, especially when you work in an industry that expects 24/7 support. I remember one time when it was already a middle of the night on a Saturday when I received a call and was asked to work (from home) because my teammate can’t access the system or something like that. Now, I didn’t really mind at all since it’s a rare event. However, what if it happened when I was out and I was the only one expected to do it? I make it a point to tell my team when I am not available on specific dates and in turn, I take note of the dates where they are not able to answer calls. This also applies on weekdays, especially when I have things planned after work.

3. Took holidays and long weekends.

I know of people who doesn’t use their vacation leaves and I’m stumped on how they can work day after day after day without breaks. I take full advantage of my holidays and long weekends. I also make it a point to not check my emails during this time and not answer anything work-related – unless I’m on support that day, which is a different story altogether. This is “me” time – time to distance myself from work and to just unwind.

Aside from learning to balance my personal and professional life out, I’ve also had a lot of whiny thoughts from the past year. Let me list them down in bullets because, gosh, this blog post is getting long. And even though the list below doesn’t exactly fit in the theme of my blog post, I want to look back at these thoughts and laugh at myself.

  1. Wait, how do taxes work? Even bonuses are taxable? What? Wait. This tax is like a third of my salary! …that’s taxable, too?!
  2. So… I have to pay for SSS, Pag-ibig, etc… What exactly are these for?
  3. *on paying everything else* Is everything really that expensive? Are you sure? I’ll just eat cup noodles for the rest of the month, thanks.
  4. I’m getting tired of this black-brown-white color theme we have going on with our corporate attires.
  5. I can’t handle this. I’m quitting… I’m kidding, I need the salary.
  6. I want to go back to school.
  7. Growing up sucks. Where’s the money and car all those movies told us we’ll get if we do really well at school? Where?
  8. Finally! Pay day! Hallelujah!

I know it’s been only a year since I started to work but I’m sure I don’t want to have a desk work for the rest of my life. I want to go back to school and maybe take a Masteral degree. Or maybe start my own business. Or be a full-time freelancer. There’s so many options, but I’m still young so I’ll hustle on my desk job for now. Besides, my company’s awesome and I don’t mind much that I’ll be spending a few more years in it.

How was your first job?


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  • Reply
    Jonine G.
    January 20, 2016 at 12:56 AM

    I can totally relate to this, Richel. I’m still on my current first job, working 11 hours a day, night shift and I’ve been here for 1 year and 4 months, gah! . Good thing is I have Saturday and Sunday day off. So I guesssss.. I can still somehow balance my personal life and work. But I reached the point when I was so burn out, unable to function well and feel like crying everyday. I’m still chewing over the idea of resigning and finding a new job, but I don’t know if that is a good idea 🙁 . Thank you for this list Richel, I’m also planning to go back to school and own a business. 🙂 Take care always!!!!

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 22, 2016 at 9:48 AM

      Seriously? 11 hours?! I don’t think I’ll even last for a month. I’ll be so burnt out. 🙁 And honestly? I still play with the idea of signing over my resignation every now and then. A few times more than I should. The thing is, I’m really scared of scarting over at a new job and lack of experience so that’s making me stay. 🙁 Take care too, Jonine! Hope we can just be businesswoman in the future. Haha!

  • Reply
    January 19, 2016 at 11:48 AM

    Argggggh. If I had to work those long hours with no break, I’d be absolutely mad. It’s definitely important to balance work and non-work in your life. I think I’ve achieved that balance pretty well, and I’m glad because having some free time and days of where I can not think about work is a sanity-saver!

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 19, 2016 at 5:49 PM

      I already go mad with just three hours continuous work. I end up taking five-ten minutes breaks when I feel like I’m getting burnt out. Good luck on your work-life balance, Tara! I’m still trying to balance my life more.

  • Reply
    January 16, 2016 at 12:27 AM

    It used to be very hard to achieve work-life balance back on my first job. I came to a point when I almost do OTs on a daily basis, which was hard because of the 10 hrs regular shift we had. After I left my first job, I became very conscious about my working time. I should have turned off my laptop right after my shift ends. When there are tasks left, I just hand that over to the next shift.

    Learning to say NO is important. I really understand your point in there when you want to say yes because you were just starting out. I did that too. Now, I learned to say no when needed. And I can totally relate to all the whiny thoughts you listed. haha! But I forget everything when it’s payday!

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 16, 2016 at 3:42 PM

      I haven’t been that overworked yet – and I hope I never will be! The 10hrs regular shift is already long enough without the OTs. There are days in the office when there are only very few tasks available. On those days, I leave the office as soon as the clock reaches 6PM – which made me feel guilty as first as all of my officemates are still working but I learned to let go because that is when my shift ends.

      Pay day is the savior! The end game for all the hardwork! Hahaha! I might love what I do but I love getting paid more, lol!

  • Reply
    Pia Bona
    January 15, 2016 at 6:11 AM

    Congratulations on your first job! It’s tough but one thing I learned about tough jobs is that they will either make or break you. And you conquered it! 🙂 My first job was in a grocery store. It’s totally different from what I finished in school (BSN) and that’s because right after graduation, I had to move to Canada. I didn’t have my license so I couldn’t practice nursing, but I had to pay my bills! It was a humbling and an unforgettable experience. It taught me so much about discipline, hard work, and patience. Now I’m a practicing nurse and it’s stressful and sometimes I wish I could go back to school again and just keep writing notes, instead of waking up in the wee hours, braving the cold weather so I don’t go to work late. Argh. But then…pay days! Oh the joy these days bring.

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 15, 2016 at 2:45 PM

      I’m seriously considering having my Master’s but then I realized I have to pay for that, as well. If I take on both school and my job, I don’t think I’ll have any free time at all! Haha. I also want to take on a job that’s somehow related to customer service – like call centers, waiters, clerks, etc. – just to humble myself down a bit. I just don’t have to luxury to do something like that anytime soon. But I think everyone should have the chance to at least experience that job so our ego will go down a notch, lol. And, yes, pay days are the light in the end of a tunnel. The ones I’m looking forward to! And hey, it’s the 15th now! Pay daaaaay!

  • Reply
    Jeini Relova
    January 14, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    Huhu. It sucks really to be balancing life and work once in a while. But as the time goes by you will just have to adjust or cope with it. This is really something to make our eyes be open to what reality really looks like and feels like. Thanks for the advices Richel. 🙂

    Spices + Everything Nice |

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 15, 2016 at 2:40 PM

      True! And you really can’t choose one over the other. It’s always balancing the two of them. Always. Our senior manager even admitted that once you start climbing up the corporate ladder, the harder it is to have any sort of work-life balance. Not encouraging at all! Hahaha!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2016 at 7:52 PM

    These are really great tips, especially the say no one. I am yet to get my first job, so no stories to tell. But hopefully I will have next year 🙂

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 15, 2016 at 2:41 PM

      I’m sure you’ll have one. Good luck, Leta!

  • Reply
    Ochi Bernadas
    January 14, 2016 at 10:16 AM

    Haha I can totally relate with all the things that have been bothering you. I was asking the same things when I just started working especially the tax part. I couldn’t stomach paying that much and not seeing them turn into results because of our crappy government.

    Ochi | Ochi In The City

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 14, 2016 at 11:59 AM

      True! The main reason why I don’t like looking at my paycheck. You can see the big fat chunk of money that goes to tax! Uggggh.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 8:23 PM

    10 hours including lunch break is a rarity to me. I have experienced working for 12 hours excluding lunch + weekend work. Imagine that! Haha. Getting 9 hours of working hours feels like a blessing to me already. Sometimes you can’t say No at all because you know, it’ll affect your performance which will affect your promotion and rating. It’s so hard to have a work-life balance in our industry. Huhu. I’m glad you’re having yours already. Idk if ever I’ll get mine. I consider myself as a corporate slave because that’s what I feel. Huhu

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 14, 2016 at 3:39 PM

      Wow. You’re overworked! Have you tried talking with your manager/team lead about your sched? I’m not sure I’ll have any work-life balance if I’ll be working as much as you do! 🙁

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 4:59 PM

    Loved reading this. I haven’t had a proper ”first job” yet, as I’m still a student, but I’m definitely bookmarking this for later!!

    Project NW | Nakd Addicted

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 13, 2016 at 5:59 PM

      Glad you liked it! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 2:29 PM

    I would love to get a first job right now and see how I can balance everything. Thank you for these tips! It will help me one day. 🙂
    Yeah, we should always learn to say no. Some of us get intimidated so easy, saying no is not an option.

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 13, 2016 at 6:05 PM

      I hope it helps! I’m still learning every day. 🙂

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 1:37 PM

    What? 10hours everyday? I can’t! Though sometimes I experience more than that, especially during project deployments, still, it doesn’t happen everyday. And our reward is, after working for more than 14 hours, we are allowed not to got to work the next day, and we’re still paid for that day. But it’s still tiring. I also learned that money will never buy your time. I will rather choose to go home early and sleep early, or do more important things, than work overtime. Tapos yung OT pay mo, hindi mo din ramdam dahil sa tax. Tapos pag nagkasakit ka pa, ang laki pa ng gastos sa gamot. I learned my lesson the hard way, but at least, I learned! And I know what’s better.
    I feel blessed that I still have my first job until now. Mag 3years nako ngayon. But I don’t want to work forever. I also think of running a business or just doing freelance. But I’ll be needing a huge capital for that, so tiis muna tayo sa work hanggang sa makaipon. Good luck to both of us! 🙂

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 13, 2016 at 5:52 PM

      Yes, 10 hours everyday plus weekend work once a month! Hahaha. Ang daya naman nung 14 hrs nyo, sana applicable din samin. Huhuhu. And yes on time > overtime pay! Overtime pay is only like a few hundreds but the stress is, like, a lot! I rarely take overtime na – only did it for a 4-6 times. I’m just glad I’m on morning shift so I’m already home by 7:30-8:00 – giving me enough time to hang out with the family and do some “me” things for an hour or two.

      I’m happy with my company pero, huhu, inggit vibes lang talaga sa merong 8-9 hrs shift lang. I’m also planning to stay for a few years, build up my fund, and maybe start a business nga after. I don’t want to be a corporate slave for the rest of my life. Haha! Here’s to us and our future!

  • Reply
    Clint Mamuri
    January 13, 2016 at 4:17 AM

    Girl, ten hours shift? Is this for 5 days a week? Are you working at night? If yes, please take good care of your health. Hugs.
    I agree to learn on how to say “No”. We can’t afford to be a Yes Man. People tends to make use of us if we always say yes to them. Have an option to say no as much as possible.
    If I was on your position where I work on a ten hours shift, and there would be an emergency advised to work, I wouldn’t take it. However, we love our job, and we care about the company, that might really make us answer yes.
    How was your first job?
    – I worked on an outsourcing IT company, and I work at night. Was bullied. Well compensated. And had to leave after regularization.
    Now I’m on a good company with professionals. Well compensated.

    • Reply
      Richel V.
      January 13, 2016 at 11:46 AM

      Yes, I work from 8AM-6PM. I’m just sooo glad I can influence what shift I’ll take at work. I don’t think I can handle night shifts. Thank you, Clint. 🙂

      I’m saying “no” more often now, more ofter than some of the people I know. Haha. I guess being the “yes” man equates you to really being a corporate slave – which I never want to be. I love my job, but I love me more. If that makes sense. There are still improvements I can do to have achieve more work-life balance but I’m getting there.

      Sad to hear you were bullied at your first job! I thought we left the bullies back in high school (or even college). How unprofessional. Glad to head about your current job, though. Here’s to our professional career for the year! 🙂

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