Nurse's Day Off: How to Maximize Your Time

by: Kati Kleber

When you work 12-hour shifts, maximizing your days off is essential.  Those 12-hour shifts can quickly turn into 13, 14, or even 16-hour shifts.  Factor in a commute, and you barely have time to shower and eat before you need to go to bed to get a little sleep before you’re back again the next day. Having a plan of attack for your days off will allow you to focus solely on getting to and coming home from work, eating, sleeping and any other important daily life commitment you may have (snuggling your kiddos for example).

After your last shift for the week, have a day where you conquer all of your laundry. [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Laundry: The worst thing is waking up late, frantically searching for scrubs, only to find that the only ones that are clean are the ones that don’t fit.  My advice is to have at least three full sets (including a jacket and undershirt for each day if you get cold) of scrubs and a back up set in your locker at work.  After your last shift for the week, have a day where you conquer all of your laundry.  Once you have your three sets clean, set them out for each shift and have that become part of your laundry routine.  Include everything!  Socks, undergarments, undershirts, top, bottom, jacket.  Then when it comes time for your shift, you just have to grab and go.  No searching half asleep and no frantic late night laundry before your shift the next morning.


Groceries and Meal Preparations: The second worst thing is to get home from an exhausting and terrible day at work and not have anything to eat or any energy to make or go buy something.  I am a big advocate of planning your meals for the week, then going grocery shopping for those meals specifically, to remove the daunting task of figuring out what to make for dinner each night.  I also plan my lunches for my work shifts as well.  Pack your lunch the night (or morning) before, so you can just grab and go on the way out the door.  Have a few quick-prep meals in the freezer for after those rough shifts when you want something homemade, but don’t have the effort to make it.

Just say no! [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]


Errands and Commitments: The third worst thing is to have a commitment after or before work.  Keep your workdays for work only!  People will try to see if you can come by after work to help with something, or if before work you can swing by to do something else.  Just say no!  It gets too stressful to have other things going on these days.  And this includes working out.  Being a nurse is practically a work out, but putting your body through more stress before or after a shift is just not a great idea.  Working 3 days/week still allows 3 days to work out with one day of complete rest, which I highly recommend.

Think about your routines before and after work, and then on your days off.  What ways can you cut out inefficiencies (like searching for laundry, last minute grocery store runs, etc.) that are taking away time for you to rest?  The more time you can create to ensure rest, the better!


Kati Kleber

Kati Kleber

StaffGarden Contributor

Kati Kleber wants you to be the best nurse you can be in the shortest amount of time possible. It takes a little while to develop your nursey confidence, & she wants to remove as many roadblocks as possible. Check out her blog at

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