The Pros & Cons of Working 12 Hour Shifts

Jordan Mendiola

Seattle’s 12th Man Flag!

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“Let’s get this bread!” A common phrase many of us millennials use right before heading off to work. The typical shifts people work range from 6 to 10 hours, but for those who want whole loaves of bread will sign up for the dreaded 12 hour shift.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Knowing that 12 hours of your day are going to be devoted to your work means that the other 12 are to be used for sleep and leisure. Assuming you sleep for an average of 7 hours a night you will be left with fibre for eating, leisure, getting ready and commuting.

For about two months of my deployment, I have experienced the 12 hour shift in order to complete high-priority missions. The reason being is because a bunch of work needs to get done to meet a deadline.

My 12 hour experience

Randomly, I was placed on the night shift crew which ran from 7pm to 7am.

The beginning of the 12 hour adventure was rough because we were working in the dark and had to adjust our sleep schedules.

At times, I would be ready to fall asleep when there were still 5 hours of rest to be done. This was the first experience that I have ever taken a caffeine pill to stay awake.

Fast forward to one week in, I had finally found a good routine that worked for me. Bedtime would range from 730am to about 330pm on good day. This schedule gave me a solid 8 hours of sleep.

I would then proceed to go to the gym or go for a run just before the sun went down and it was time for my shift to begin. I made sure to grab some sun because vitamin D strengthens the immune system.

Lastly, the final 2 hours would be changing, grabbing food, and watching some self-improvement YouTube videos.

Pros

The pros of a 12 hour shift are far and few in between, but there are a few.

  1. Sense of pride and purpose

Our night shift crew was full of strangers at first and then became a family after just one week. We all embraced the “suck” and came together to make the job happen all while having fun (No details because OPSEC).

Night crew was actually more productive than the day shift and I believe this is because it was dark without any distractions or people interrupting. How could I forget, there was no internet service either so we could kiss browsing the internet goodbye.

As soon as 0630 hit, it was time to go home and I sensed a lot of mornings of satisfaction as the sun rose.

2. Getting into a flow state

When working for 12 hours it is great to get into a flow state because you work efficiently while also enjoying it.

3. Time flies

While on deployment, we all dream about the day we come back home to our loved ones, and when you’re gone for one year time can either fly by or pass ever so slowly. The 12s make days feel like a blink of an eye because you’re constantly working and sleep off most of the rest of the day. It is crazy to be three or four days off from the actual date you thought it was.

Cons

The coms of 12 hour shifts can be too much for some people, but while on my deployment, I didn’t have a choice.

1. Little time to yourself

Getting time to oneself is important to a lot of people especially myself. I am going to accomplish so much in my lifetime, but this could be doubled with more time to myself. When presented with only five hours of freedom to myself meant I had to pick and choose what was priority.

Some days I would leave no time for creating content because I would have laundry to do, take a long run, or simply, relax and catch my breath.

2. Less time to spend with people other than your coworkers

When on 12s, your co workers can become your best friends. But what does this mean for the rest? Aside from getting extremely close to the ones who were on my particular shift, I didn’t reach out to other people within my unit. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t have the mental energy to do it.

If this was back home and I had my own family, the 12s would barely see me. So if you are considering working 12s, you can make more money if you work hourly, but time is something you can’t get back.

3. Snacking and eating junk food

Since our bodies are more familiar with waking up in the day and going to sleep at night, doing the complete opposite means that I would snack a bunch every night I worked. Something I wasn’t used to because I skipped lunch in the daytime.

Cravings come at random and sneak up on me when I’m deep in my process. Some unhealthy choices were made and we will just leave it at that.

All in all

If you’re chasing that “bread”, I say go for it! Try out the 12 hour shift at your respective place of work. It may work for some of you or it may work for none of you. It is trial and error.

I definitely learned how to be more productive with my time as well as acknowledge my capabilities when placed on a 12 hour shift.

“To all those who working hard, long hours, late nights, early mornings, big dreams. That grind is precious dude” — Azeen Shaik

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Creative entrepreneur, U.S. Army Engineer, and dedicated runner. Committed to sharing ideas that lead to more fulfillment in all areas of life. Email: mendiola1829@gmail.com

Chicago, IL
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