Sometimes, we get our work schedules and are surprised to see a 12+ hour shift without an explanation. We all have long days, some are unexpected, and some are expected. This is about how you can survive/prepare for the expected ones.
How To Prepare
This depends on how far in advance you actually know about this shift. If you know far enough in advance, avoid sickness! Make sure you are staying on top of your vitamins, sleep, and hydration routine. We should all technically be doing this, but we can all get distracted. Getting sick would definitely add more of a challenge, so you might as well try your best to prevent it.
Keep your sleep schedule consistent through out the week. If you switch things around last minute, your body will be confused and you will struggle. If this sounds challenging for you, try setting alarms on your phone to remind you to go to bed on time. I worked full time overnights for over a year, so I definitely understand the issues that arise from throwing off your sleep schedule.
Get everything else you have to get done that day DONE. You do not want to be working on something after finishing your 12+ hour shift. Especially things you need to be alert for like school or work projects. Tell your friends that you will get coffee with them some other day, you should focus on relaxing before/after your shift.
The night before, make sure you go to bed either a little before, or exactly when you should be. Most of us need about 7-8 hours of sleep to feel fully rested the next morning. It is important to stay consistent with your sleep schedule, but if you're feeling ready for bed an hour or two earlier, go for it.
How To Survive
When you wake up, do NOT go straight for the caffeine and sugar. Drinking caffeine early before your shift will set you up for failure. If you drink caffeine too early, it will send you into a decline right as you are entering your shift. I have noticed drinking caffeine about 30 minutes before gives me the perfect timing. After you are at work, you should be fine to continue caffeinating yourself, just do not go overboard.
Do not look at the clock throughout the day. This can be really challenging. We always want to see how much longer we have, but do not. I found this technique very helpful. It keeps you focused on what you need to get done instead of being distracted by how much time you have left. Try finding games to play with yourself to avoid looking at the clock.
Focus on the quality of your work and not the quantity. When you work a long shift like this, it can be easy to lose sight of the quality of your work. Whether it is interactions with customers, or designs you are developing, you can not forget the role you have and value you create. What I am trying to say is, don't stop putting your all into it just because it is a long shift.
Use any free time you have to think. Ask yourself questions, challenge thoughts, find new perspectives. I'm a weird mix between an extremely hard worker and a daydreamer, so maybe this is more personal to me. Sometimes I come up with my best ideas while I am at work. It definitely helps the time go by, especially when it is slow. You can even come up with ideas to improve your work environment. Just keep swimming, or should I say thinking?
You can for sure make it through your 12+ hour shift! If you try out these ways to survive, time will go by faster than you even realize. Whether you are home or at work, always remember that you can create value.