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Useful ideas on what to do on a night shift

If you find that you have a bit of ‘downtime’ on a night shift and you’re looking for something to fill your time, then check out some of these great options. Whether you want to relax, learn or earn extra money, there’s something for everyone.

Things to do on a night shift
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I spent over 20 years doing night shifts. During my younger years, I loved them. Work tended to be quieter and nothing beat that feeling of driving home to bed and watching everyone else starting their day.

During my first 10 years of nights, I worked at the ferry port in Ramsgate (now closed). Some nights, there could be several hours in between boats and it could become quite boring. And when I’m bored, I’m more likely to fall asleep… or eat.

So, if you’re finding these shifts are becoming a bit of a drag, here are some great ideas on how to spend your time during night shifts.

Money making ideas

In my old job, I was paid extra to work night shifts. We’re talking over 10% here, so it was something I couldn’t do without. However, I spent some of my time on these shifts working on side incomes. Although it was initially small amounts, I eventually earned enough so I could pack them in and work more regular hours.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you go out and deliver food during your night shift. Your boss probably wouldn’t be too happy if you disappeared for a couple of hours. But here are a few ways to make extra money from your desk.

  1. Online surveys: One of my favourite ways to make money. In fact, I can regularly make over £6,000 per year from this. Most surveys take just a few minutes, so you don’t need to set aside a lot of time. Why not take a look at my list of the best paid surveys to get you started?
  2. Data entry: Many companies outsource data entry work to freelancers who can work remotely. You can find data entry jobs on websites like FlexJobs, Indeed, or Upwork.
  3. Transcription: If you have excellent listening and typing skills, consider working as a transcriptionist during your night shift. You can find transcription jobs on websites like TranscribeMe, Rev, or Scribie. Find out how I got on with Rev.
  4. Social media management: Many businesses need help managing their social media accounts. If you have experience with social media marketing, consider working as a social media manager during your night shift. You can find social media management jobs on websites like Indeed, Upwork, or Freelancer.
  5. Website testing: Companies often pay users to test their websites and provide feedback on the user experience. You can find website testing opportunities on websites like UserTesting and IntelliZoom.

Personal development ideas

Perhaps it’s not all about the money and you want to spend your spare time developing yourself.

  1. Learn a new skill: Choose a skill that you’ve always wanted to learn, such as playing a musical instrument, coding, cooking or a new language, and dedicate some time each week to practising it. This can help you improve your knowledge and confidence. Of course, people in the office might not be keen on you blowing on a trombone for an hour every night.
  2. Read books: Reading can broaden your horizons and improve your critical thinking skills. Choose books that interest you or challenge your thinking, and set aside some time each day or week to read them.
  3. Take courses: Consider taking courses online or on subjects that interest you or that can help you develop your career. You can find many free or low-cost courses on platforms like Coursera, edX, or Udemy. These can usually be completed at your own pace.
  4. Set goals: Identify what you want to achieve in the short and long term, and set specific and achievable goals to help you reach them. Use a planner or a journal to track your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.
  5. Practice meditation: Taking a few minutes during your shift to meditate can help you reduce stress and improve your focus. There are many free guided meditation apps available, such as Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer.

Fun things to do on a night shift

Perhaps, because night shifts can be a bit of a strain, you don’t want to fo anything that takes up too much mental power. How about livening up a night shift with one of these activities?

  1. Play games: Bring a deck of cards or some board games to work and play with your coworkers during your break time. This can help you bond and relieve stress. Or, it can have the complete opposite effect and you end up in a fight.
  2. Watch movies or TV shows: If you have access to a TV or computer, watch a movie or TV show during your break time. This can be a fun way to relax and escape from work for a little while. Or, you could buy a cheap tablet and use that to download shows that you like to watch.
  3. Have a potluck: Organize a potluck with your coworkers and bring in some of your favourite snacks or dishes to share. This can be a fun way to try new foods and socialise with coworkers. Although there always seems to be somebody that likes to bring in fish and stink out the office.
  4. Take a walk: If your work allows, take a walk around your building or outside during your break time. This can help you get some fresh air, stretch your legs, and clear your mind.
  5. Start a book club: Start a book club with your coworkers and choose a book to read together during your break time. This can be a fun way to learn something new and bond with your colleagues.
  6. Create a photo wall: Bring in some photos of your friends, family, pets, or travels and create a photo wall at your workstation. This can help you personalize your space and create a positive and fun environment.
  7. Have a themed dress-up day: Organize a themed dress-up day with your coworkers, such as crazy hat day, superhero day, or beach day. This can be a fun way to break up the monotony of your shift and boost morale.
  8. Organize a scavenger hunt: Create a scavenger hunt for you and your coworkers to complete during your break time. Hide clues around the office or building and see who can solve the puzzle first.
  9. Create a DIY project: Use your creativity and make something during your night shift, such as a scrapbook, a piece of jewellery, or a painting. This can be a fun way to express yourself and relieve stress.
  10. Create a playlist: Use your downtime to curate a playlist of your favourite songs or create a themed playlist for your coworkers to enjoy. You can also have a contest for the best playlist or take turns DJing during your shift to keep the mood upbeat and fun.


Productive things you can do towards your work

So, none of the things I’ve mentioned above actually have much to do with your job. If you insist on doing something job-related, here are a few things you can try.

  1. Organize your workspace: Take some time to clean and organize your workspace to help you be more efficient and focused. This includes decluttering your desk, organizing your files and documents, and keeping your supplies in order.
  2. Set goals and priorities: Define your goals and set priorities based on the tasks that are most important and urgent. This can help you stay on track and accomplish more during your shift.
  3. Complete important tasks: Use the quiet time of the night shift to complete important tasks that require concentration and focus, such as analyzing data, preparing reports, or working on a project.
  4. Learn new skills: Use online resources to learn new skills that will benefit you in your job, such as new software or programming languages. This can make you more efficient and valuable to your company.
  5. Complete your e-learning: If your organisation is anything like mine, rather than teach you in a classroom, they prefer to do it with you staring at a computer screen. A night shift is a great time to get it done as it’s much quieter… although I would suggest you do it at the start of the night as you may lose quite a bit of concentration by the end.
  6. Collaborate with coworkers: Use the night shift as an opportunity to collaborate with coworkers who work during the same hours. This can help you build better relationships, share knowledge and skills, and get more done together.
  7. Review and analyse data: If you want to impress your boss, take some time to review and analyse data related to your work, such as sales figures, customer feedback, or website traffic. This can help you identify trends and patterns and make data-driven decisions to improve your work.

But surely that’s not what night shifts are for…

What’s the best thing to do on a night shift?

I recommend doing a mixture of the tasks above. Obviously, your main priority should be ensuring that you’re up to date with your work and you have nothing outstanding. There’s no point in catching up on the latest Love Island episode if it means you’re going to lose your job.

But some nights, as long as it won’t get you into trouble, why not try and take it a little easy? Or, if you have a bit of free time to make a little extra money, why not take advantage of it?

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