I’ve always found comfort in a routine. It provides structure and a sense of stability for me. This summer I’m working at the CVS on the Corner, and I’ve had to adjust to a 9-to-5 schedule — or in my casem sometimes a 7 to 4 or 3 to 11.
I’ve had to adapt to a very regimented and demanding schedule. The daily and weekly responsibilities of a retail job are repetitive, so I learned how to complete my tasks rather quickly. Like many, however, I fear getting bogged down by a 9-to-5 schedule that is characteristic of a full-time job. Work quickly becomes monotonous and can lead to boredom and a lack of autonomy. Although I haven’t become bored quite yet since I’ve only been working for the past two months, I can see work becoming monotonous for me in the near future.
My work schedule is distinct from the schedule I build for a semester. During the semester, I have to go to class at the same time every week, but every day can be different depending on what I choose to do. Lunch with a friend or a club meeting can disrupt any rigid schedule I try to make. The assignments and readings differ each week, which also creates variation in my schedule.
It’s one reason many students struggle when transitioning to college — it’s up to us to plan our days. However, I admire the flexibility a college schedule can offer. I’ve developed the discipline to set aside time for my school work, so I can have a balanced school and social life, although it’s not always easy.
At the moment, I’m experiencing a lack of balance in my life. I feel exhausted after work, and I just want to rest when I get home. I was recently promoted, so I have more responsibilities, and I’ve had to commit more time to my job and make several adjustments to my schedule. I often go in earlier than my shift starts and stay after it ends, and my days feel incredibly long.
This struggle for balance has raised questions of how one lives an interesting and fulfilling life because it’s so easy to get lost in one’s work routine. This can also lead to burnout and dissatisfaction with one’s job and life outside of work. I’ve noticed that I’ve become increasingly tired over the past few weeks, and I’m feeling a bit burned out. Although a routine and repetition can provide comfort, engaging with the same tasks at work every day can become unenjoyable.
In order to mitigate this, I try to take advantage of my free time. Whether it’s spontaneous trips to Target or the Dairy Market, I appreciate the time I spend with my friends who are also in Charlottesville for the summer. Sometimes I forget I actually woke up at 6 a.m. and proceeded to work for eight hours when I do something I enjoy in the evenings. I have to remind myself that I’m still on break, and can still enjoy my time off with others while being committed to my summer job.
I’ve realized that it is important to set appropriate boundaries with my workplace. I have two days off each week, and I agree to work any overtime before the schedule is set for the week. I just want to ensure that I have an adequate amount of time to rest and recharge. It also gives me more control over my schedule, because while I do have more availability to work, I still have a life outside of work.
Although college definitely offers more flexibility than working life, I am grateful I’ve had the opportunity to work a full-time job while I'm a student. Even though I hope to work in a different field after college, I will have a sense of what it’s like to work a full-time job even if it’s just a few months over the summer. I’ve gained valuable work experience, but also I have a better understanding of my likes and dislikes, which can help me choose a field or line of work that is compatible with my interests and preferences. Working a full-time job this summer has taught me that I need to prioritize my sense of balance in my future endeavors to ensure that I feel content and satisfied.