How To Survive A 16 Hour A Day Work Week

In order to help improve productivity and machine availability at work, this week past I decided to do some overtime which mean’t doing two 8 hour shifts for a total work day of 16 hours.

As a Maintenance Technician at the Port of Kingston Jamaica, I am required to maintain and repair the container handling equipment such as straddle carriers and container stackers so as to reduce downtime as much as possible. Most of the fleet that are currently working the Port of Kingston are past their usable working life and are up for retirement so they require a lot of maintenance to keep them running. So, with this in mind, I decided to assist the company with their push for improved productivity while trying to top up my basic pay and possibly have a better take home wage. The question remains though, you give up all this time for money but does it make you better off? Here I chronicle my crazy 16 hour a day week and how best to survive the negative physical and mental effects.

Cross section of straddle carrier fleet and cranes in the background
Cross section of straddle carrier fleet with cranes in the background

The first morning, I got up at 3:30 AM, which confirmed I had got only 4 hours of sleep. I hit the snooze button and went back to sleep and as I was about to really fall asleep, the alarm went off again, reminding me of the fact that I had to go to work. So I reluctantly left the alluring comfort of my bed, got up and started getting ready for work. I had callaloo and salt fish with an egg and an orange and tea for breakfast. After which, I took my Double X Vitamins and a Rhodiola 110 tablet for brain acuity, as I was gonna have a very long day and needed to be mentally sharp.

Travelling to work
Travelling to work

I then left for work and arrived promptly at work to start my shift at 6:00 AM. My work crew for the week consisted of myself and two other members and our activities for the first 8 hours of the day would have us carrying out daily servicing and checks on the newer fleet of equipment, some as tall as 50 feet, and would require us to climb these machines and ensure that the various systems are in proper working order, the machine is mechanically and electrically sound and that all fluids are at the required levels, all while in the open, exposed to the hot summer sun.

At the start of the shift, I felt more or less okay, energy levels were up but as the day progressed and I had climbed a few of the machines and had carried out my duties, I began to feel tired and thirsty as I was working in the sun, on hot machines. So the crew took a 5 minute hydration break and then worked until lunch time at 11:00 AM, at which point, I decided to take a nap for the one hour lunch break instead and have lunch later. After the lunch break, we continued with the daily checks and servicing of machines until 2:00 PM where our regular shift and normal duties began. At this point, I had my lunch and took another Rhodiola 110 tablet and had an Energy Drink.

Our regular shift lasts from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM and our duties during this shift, consists of the crew responding to break down of equipment in the field. Some days are not as busy depending the level of activity on the port while other days, can be very busy. That day and as I later found out, the rest of the week, would be very busy as there would be a lot of container moves taking place, which resulted in the crew having to respond to numerous breakdowns and resulting in us having to climb machines to correct the errors and in some cases, drive the machines back to the workshop for further work. By the end of the shift, I was really tired and was happy to go home after 16 hours of work.

Out on the Port
Out on the Port

When I got home at around 10:30 PM. I attempted to surf the net and read some emails but my mind was having none of it. So I complied with what my mind and body was telling me and just went to bed.

I continued this routine for three more days, only difference being that I woke up a little later at 4:00 AM and instead of making breakfast at home, I had breakfast at work. This arrangement allowed me to maximise on my sleep and thus have a little more energy to carry into the day (what a difference 30 minutes more of sleep can make).The vitamins, the Rhodiola and the energy drinks also helped to keep energy and mental sharpness up however, over all, the experience was both mentally and physically challenging due to the nature of the job as described previously. At times I felt frustrated with the nature of the work and the fact that I decided to do such overtime in order to have a little bump on my take home wage.

In conclusion, If you can manage without having to do the overtime, depending on the nature of the work, if its physically demanding and under the conditions described above, I would not recommend anybody to do this type of overtime as the physical and mental fatigue can and will take a toll on you overtime. If however, there is a specific goal you need to achieve and the overtime can help you achieve it, be sure to prepare yourself by getting as much rest as possible and make use of the vitamins and supplements in conjunction with proper meals as described above.


The Unattached Minor



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Hi! My name is Kareem Campbell and I am an Electrical Engineer by profession who is also an entrepreneur and IBO. I created this blog to share my views on various ideas and topics and to interact and get feedback from you, my audience. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @reemyc.

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