Help, It is hard to FLY while working Shifts

Dear FlyLady,

Being a shift worker, I find it difficult to keep up with FlyLady when I am doing several night shifts in a row. I was wondering how other FlyLady members do it. There must be lots of nurses and other shift workers in your group. Any hints from them?

Rebecca in Canada

Your Control Journal is the key to keeping your routines in place. My suggestion is quite simple. Change the name of your routines. To your “Get Up” routine and your “Get Home from Work” routine. Make sure you
get some sleep too! That is why your routines fall apart. You are exhausted.

This is a link to a Control Journal that was built just for those of you who need it most. Here is the printed version Control Journal.

Here it with the Office in a Bag.

Here is my testimonial about how to adapt FlyLady to a shift worker’s schedule:

1) Read the emails, read the emails, read the emails! Nobody needs reminders more than us shift workers – we have no routine in our lives so the reminders will keep us on track. Even though you may get the emails at a time when you can’t really do them due to work schedules, keep reading them – they will gradually invade your mind and give you the mindset you need to start adapting the system to your schedule.
(I read emails for months before I decided I could do this)

2) While you are reading those emails – pay particular attention to all the comments about taking care of yourself. Shiftwork is extremely hard on your body – we never go to sleep at the same time, get up at the same time, eat meals regularly, etc. and from time to time, we all have ‘Mac Truck Syndrome’ (you rotating shiftworkers know what this is – it is when you have worked night shift and have to go through a day of sleep deprivation in order to force your body to start sleeping at night again so you can go back to working dayshift – feels like you’ve been run over by a Mac Truck!) You probably won’t be able to go to bed when you received the ‘time for bed’ email but if you keep reading it, the message will register upstairs – “I need my rest”. I had become so drained and exhausted that it showed every time I looked in the mirror. I was neglecting something far more important than my house – ME! So long before I shined my sink, I started realizing I needed to listen

3) Now, look at your schedule – really analyze it. It is so easy for us shiftworkers to just let the schedule control our daily lives. You have to really work at his part. Take a calendar page (might wanna copy a calendar page to use for this worksheet instead of marking up your actual calendar) Now, using this page, mark one whole rotation of your schedule – I started with my first Monday dayshift and continued marking it off until I got back to the next time I worked dayshift on Monday. If you are on dayshift, put a ‘d’; if you are on nightshift, put an ‘n’; if you are scheduled to be off, use a highlighter to highlight that day. (my shift schedule is a 28 day rotation so I had 4 weeks marked out when I got finished) This rough schedule can help you find ways to keep on track.

4) First if you have a significant other, consider their work schedule – if their day off coincides with yours, you will want to reserve this day for the ‘do something special with your family’ emails. Look at the rough calendar & see if you have these special days – mark them with a different color so you will know that they are reserved.

5) Next, look at Sunday & Monday on your rough calendar – you are looking for a time to use the “Plan Next Week” email – this is one of the most helpful emails you receive. I try to make this happen on Mondays but there are some Mondays when I am working so then I try to review the week on Sunday. This email tells you to compare your calendar with the family’s – when are all of you going to be home for supper (if you are on nightshift this week & sleeping during the day -this is a crockpot day if the family is going to be home for supper – you’ll be glad you started it before you went to bed)

6) Next, look at your rough calendar and see what day within all of the weeks would work best for anything that needs done weekly – consistency is so hard to find when your world revolves around a shift schedule. I have a windup clock that I couldn’t seem to get wound each week – I was winding it on Sundays – after analyzing this schedule – I found that Thursdays are the most consistent day to accomplish things like this – I have 2 of the Thursdays off, and finish dayshift on one of them so I come home in a better mind frame to fly – there is 1 week in 4 when I am on nightshift so that week I use Friday since I finish the nightshifts Friday morning. (This day is not when I do the weekly home blessing – I work that in on other days – this is just for the little things that need a routine time schedule)

7) Now look for a good time each week for the Routine Home Blessing Hour – some weeks I do it on a day off – some weeks I break it into smaller portions to do on work days. Based on the weekly schedule, when I plan the week ahead – I know when I want to do the home blessing.

8) Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t fly everyday! With our schedules – there are days when you won’t be able to fly. My dayshift work is sometimes so stressful that my coworkers coined the phrase “I’m gonna take my 12 hour whoopin’ and go home” If I’ve had a 12 hour whoopin’ kind of workday – believe me, I’m not gonna Fly when I get home – I’m just gonna unwind & take this FlyBaby to bed. Not gonna feel guilty about missing days – cause I’m never behind – I can jump in whenever I can. (gee, where did I hear that?) I know I won’t be flying all the time but I keep getting those “frequent flyer smiles” (the smiles as I see my house taking shape)

I hope these comments help other shiftworkers find the way that FlyLady can help them – it isn’t easy to adapt – my wings are still growing and I have a long way to go! Daily routines are still difficult since my days are so different based on which shift I am working but my sink is shining and my house is looking better most of the time and I have my priorities in order so I take better care of myself. I’m developing a ‘FlyLady frame of mind’!

Thank you for an inspiring site!

Carol Vacca

FlyLady here: Thank you Carol for sharing your methods with our members. I am so very proud of her. If you have a different way of doing the FlyLady FlyWashing because of family or work schedules, please email your adaptations to me. Just click on any of the link below. We need testimonials from:

Mothers with new babies (NEW BABIES)
Mothers with small children(SMALL CHILDREN)
Mothers with several children(BIG FAMILIES)
Women/Mothers who work outside the home(PAYROLL FLYBABY)
Women/Mothers who work from home (WAHM)
Women/Mothers who take care of ill family members(CAREGIVER)
Women that are retired(RETIRED)
Women whose husbands have recently retired.(HUSBAND RETIRED)
Fathers who are the custodial parent (FATHERS)

Thank you for helping other FlyBabies.


We have some great tools to keep your home shining!

This is our Deluxe Cleaning System with an XL Mop.

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