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How the weekend shift taught me to be alone

A few years ago, I had a gig at a magazine working the weekend shift. I was a recent journalism graduate living in Toronto and thrilled to be on the masthead of a publication I respected. My work week started on Friday and finished on Tuesday. On Saturdays and Sundays, I manned the website solo. For months, I kicked off the weekend by strolling to work on Saturday mornings with a medium roast in hand and no coworkers present. During those days, the office was silent apart from my typing. With no distractions, the weekend was my most productive time and I grew to really love it.

By the time Tuesday afternoon rolled around, I’d be ready for my weekend. The problem: in my mid-twenties, many of my friends lived the nine-to-five life from Mondays through to Friday. Oftentimes it wasn’t that hard to find a companion for a Tuesday evening post-work beer but when it came to planning a Wednesday afternoon beach day or a brunch on Thursday, I was often on my own. Similarly, when others wanted to head to the cottage for a weekend, I was a no. If a friend’s birthday party was going to run into the wee hours, I had to bounce before midnight.

During those months, I spent mid-week afternoons lounging in solitude at Ward’s Island. I went to movies alone at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, I went for long runs through High Park down to the waterfront and I took books to the banks of the Humber River.

As the months wore on, I learned to appreciate being alone. After getting over the initial intimidation of showing up to places by myself wore off, I learned to appreciate my own company. During my workdays in silence, I did more. And on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons off, I didn’t have to wait on anyone nor did I have to compromise on restaurants or activities. During the spring and summer of that year, I dated someone but by fall it was over – mismatching schedules certainly didn’t help. As breakups go, I wallowed at first and then moved on.

With this relationship in the dust, I had even more time to myself. It was during that time that I learned not to feel constricted to my home just because I was without a companion during any given afternoon or evening. It was an important lesson and a blessing in disguise. From there, I started to plan my time differently and without necessarily needing others every single time, I afforded myself more freedom. I shopped alone, freelanced from cafes and cooked fancy dinners for one.

My schedule eventually changed to the standard Monday-to-Friday flow. But by then, my lifestyle and way of thinking was different because of that weekend shift. I continued to do things with just me, myself and I. Last summer, I spent a week on my own in Vancouver exploring Stanley Park, Wreck Beach and the restaurants of Commercial Drive. Then, soon after the calendar rolled over to 2018, I boarded a flight to Colombia. While I had a close friend to live with, the nature of having moved to a new city meant that again, I’d be branching out alone. I frequented neighbourhood patios, worked out at the track and hiked in the mountains. In the early days, I often didn’t have a choice but to do so on my lonesome. I guess my routine from a few years ago was good practice.

When Should We Start Work?

Monday morning or not, it’s difficult to make it into the office by 9:00 am everyday. The process of showering, making breakfast, feeding your children and the dog, all while squeezing in (or at least thinking about) an intense work out can be tough on anyone.

After the morning routine, it only makes sense to be a little winded when walking into the office at such a seemingly awful hour. Don’t let it get to you though. There’s science to back up the reason as to why you feel so tired.

An Oxford University researcher claims that starting work before 10 a.m. are ‘torture’ and a ‘serious threat’ to your physical and mental health.

Dr. Paul Kelley’s study says that before age 55, our bodies are attuned to sunlight and circadian rhythms, and we can’t be trained by routine.

The cure? Dr. Kelley recommends a start time for high school students of 10 a.m. and university students of 11 a.m. Any earlier, he says, and grades and productivity will suffer. And knowing the sleeping patterns and addictive social media habits of Generation Y, that’s definitely not a bad idea.

At a school where Dr. Kelley was headmaster, he shifted the start time to 10 a.m. and found that the top grades at the school rose by 19 per cent that year.

In the meantime, Dr. Kelley also recommends getting some sleep! There does not need need to be a study to remind us that sleep deprivation takes its toll on our bodies. Turn off your phones, switch off the lights, and get some shut eye. Einstein slept 10 hours/night and napped, too!

What sort of work hours do you hope for? Let us know in the comments below!

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