Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

sometimes it's time to quit

Someone started a thread on /r/productivity today asking if she should quit her new job working graveyard shift at the coffee shop--after just 90 days it's making her miserable, she's losing time with her family and friends, and it's having an adverse impact on her health. She has two other job offers, she says, but she's concerned that it will look bad on her job history to leave a job so quickly. She asks for suggestions on how to handle her dillema. This was my advice. ---

Quit!* Listen--if you're at a gig that's disrupting the things that matter most to you, like quality time with your loved ones, and you have two other opportunities with (I presume) better hours, I would absolutely go with one of the other offers. As you say: you're young and a student, and you're not depending on any of these part-time options for your livelihood, so I see no reason you should stay.

No one looking at your resume when it comes time for Real Jobby Job interviews will notice or care that you were only at a coffee shop for a month if you have a job history that continues from there. Better yet, protip: don't put this gig on your resume, and start it with whatever job you pick up from here. Even if you're working on building up job history for future prospective employers, the trade-off of losing 90 days of that history in exchange for a job that allows you to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stable relationships with the people you care about is absolutely worth it, at least in my book.

That said, if you decide to stay (maybe you get paid more, or like the camraderie), here are some tips on staying healthy and productive while working graveyard, as I have:

  • Try to get your 6-8 hours of sleep in a room that's as dark as possible, maybe with a drone sound to drown out noise.
  • If you miss out on crucial sleep time, learn how to use naps effectively to regain energy during the day. A strategically timed coffee nap got me through lots of graveyard nights at hotel front desks.
  • Exercise for 20-30 minutes (even if it's just a brisk walk) soon after getting up. Start your day with a glass of milk, a few eggs, or one of those fancy-pants juices with 30g of protein--as long as you get a boost to jumpstart your body (and that doesn't have to be caffeine!), your whole day (ahem--night) will feel different.
  • Eat your pre-work meal 3-4 hours before your shift starts. That way your food will be fully digested and you'll be less likely to be fighting drowsiness at work.
  • If you can manage it time-wise, for the sake of relationship health it's great to be able to spend the morning with your significant other before they head out for the day. Maybe you can share a meal--steak and eggs works pretty well for breakfast or dinner, ya know. Everybody's happy.
  • Since it sounds important to you to be in touch with your family, try to make time to call them for chats between the time you wake up and when you head in to your shift. I try to call my parents each once a week, and I have a rotating schedule of friends I call once every few weeks as per Merlin Mann's advice to make sure I stay connected to people that are important to me.

Hope this helps in some way. Hope you let us know what you decide to do! ---

*(You can tell I've been listening to a lot of, uh, Quit!)