View Full Version : Tiredness and Christmas time

11-19-2013, 03:55 AM
So it seems like Christmas has already arrived where I work. We already usually work 80 hour, 6 day weeks, but this is going to get ramped to 100 hour weeks. Add on the 90 mins travel I have a day, and I'm up to about 110 hours for the next 7 weeks. That leaves me about 6 hours a night to sleep on. Anyone have tips for getting me and all the rest of us through?

11-19-2013, 04:07 AM
Forming a union?


11-19-2013, 04:26 AM

sachem allison
11-19-2013, 04:39 AM
burn it down

11-19-2013, 05:51 AM
wow you need some time off. That many hours gets old, and burn out is a given. When I say the thread title I was thinking winter sickness (if that is the real name of it).

11-19-2013, 09:28 AM
omg… even 80 hours a week sounds ridiculous to me.
Is it a common situation for professional cooks in UK? Does you get any extra money for those additional hours?

11-19-2013, 10:36 AM
Crystal Meth!

11-19-2013, 10:42 AM
No seriously though, I feel for you man. This will be the first holiday season in about 13 years that I haven't been catering. I know about the 100-120 hour work week.
You're exhausted and everybody else around you is happy, jolly, festive, cheery and drunk.
And that God-awful Christmas music!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And you're expected to be 100%?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I survived with lots of energy drinks and coffee.
I'm so happy I don't have to do it this year, and hopefully never again. I'm looking forward to maybe enjoying the holidays this year and not being a tired, grumpy zombie slug.
Best of luck bro.
Treat yourself to a new knife to energize yourself and stay inspired.

11-19-2013, 10:48 AM
If you go the crystal meth route please post before and after pics!

The way meth makes a person pale and destroys there teeth is amazing. Would be intesting to see if a difference is noticeable on a Brit.


I have found movie theaters to be great places to recharge when I am doing the monster hours routine. You can spend time with someone you care about without being drained emotionally by too much talking and you can sleep if you want to. And when it's all said and done you feel like you did something a normal human would do. :2cents:

11-19-2013, 11:44 AM
That is genius. I've never thought of the movies in that way but it is true. Our holiday season starts Oct. 1 when convention season begins. Try to eat well and take a multivitamin, we all eat like **** when we are too busy. The blood sugar ups and downs are as hard on you as the real fatigue is. I have a mixed opinion on union kitchens. It seems like a good idea but in reality it fosters a lot of laziness and "that's not my job" attitude. And neither of those things is grounds for termination in a union kitchen so you are stuck with a compromised staff.

11-19-2013, 11:59 AM
3 double espresso a day, and 3 double Bowmore 15's.

11-19-2013, 12:25 PM
Try to spend a little time each day in real sunlight, or at least outdoors. even if it's just your break time. There is nothing worse then going to work before dawn, working all day under fluorescent lights, and then going home after nightfall.

Wash your face. It's surprisingly refreshing.
Also, strangely, I find changing my socks or even washing my feet to be very refreshing.

11-19-2013, 12:26 PM
No drinks after 3am. And if you smoke too much pot you'll never make it.

11-19-2013, 02:01 PM
I can see problems with unionized and unmotivated workers, so this is probably not the short-term solution. And I am not in the business, so this is just an outsider's opinion. But making someone work 100-110h a week is a modern form of slavery, at minumum it's a form of abuse. We all have works weeks like that occasionally, but if this is the norm and gets worse during certain seasons, it just has to mean you are understaffed and exploited. If the employer is raking in the money over the season, there should be enough money to at least hire temporary people to cope with the work. Rant over.

From a stress management and burnout prevention perspective, there are little things you can to, many of them have been mentioned before.

- eating well, i.e. if in any way possible, try for something regular and don't leave times between meals or snacks too long; include fruits or fruit or vegetable juices; include some whole grain things that last a little longer; try avoiding fat and simple starch overload, they can make you feel tired.
- Even if you run around all day in the kitchen, try to get a few minutes of exercise in there most of the days. The type of movement and exertion is different and addresses different muscels, keeps you flexible and the muscles from tensing up long-term. At minimum, try a few minutes of stretching a few times during the day. Longer exercise releases endorphines that make us feel good.
- smoking and drugs seem to be helpful to get you during tough times, but the costs are too high from any reasonable perspective, even short-term. Higher highs lead to stronger crashes, the strain on the body is enormous. Nicotine is a stimulans and can help to stay alert (smoking to relax is nonsense - it's the break you take for smoking that works...), but from a health perspective it's among the stupidest things you can do. The only 'acceptable' drug from the perspective of a health professional is caffeine, but even that should stay within reasonable limits. A drink before bed is no problem, everything else will do more harm than good to keep you going.
- try to get quality sleep; sleep quality affects how rested you feel at least as much as the time you sleep, and if you do not get much sleep, that is even more important. Alcohol may help falling asleep but it leads to very bad sleep quality. Having fresh air supply (open window) helps; ear plugs and/or a sleeping mask like you get on a plane can help also.
- this may sound strange, but try to keep a positive perspective and consciously do one nice thing for yourself every day. Life feels like it is just passing by when all you do is work your butt off and sleep. A positive view doesn't mean you should see everything through rosy glasses. But what you can do is look back on the day, and among all the crap find one thing that was really good, positive, great, memorable etc. There always is something, we just don't learn or forget to look for it very often. The joke the line cook told, the feeling when the last plate went out, the one smile you got from that cute server, that your dish washer actually listened to you today, the nice view on the drive home etc.
- You could also go one step further and do one nice thing for yourself every day. Does not have to be anything fancy, but it helps not 'losing' yourself in a crappy phase where work seems to be everything. Can be anything: Look at the sunrise, listen to your favorite sone, watch your favorite Monty Python sketch on Youtube, do some stretching exercises, call your favorite niece, play 5 min with your dog, run through the park, take the scenic way home and enjoy it, daydream 5 minutes about your dream vacation without guilt, tell your wife you love her, thank your Mom for being there for you, say a friendly word to a stranger.

You see - I'm a psychologist ;) But these little things can help keeping us sane, especially in stressfull times.


11-20-2013, 05:14 AM

11-21-2013, 01:01 AM
I just try to dress really warm, just to make sure I don't get sick, I typically hit between 80-95 hrs a week in December. I drink anywhere between 4-7 black tea a day, get to Booster Juice on fri/sat's a bit after 4pm, or Jamba Juice in the states I believe it's called. I won't say how much I smoke, but I call BS Chuckles hehe, been doin this since I was 14-15. Also, after work, I read cookbooks, I find if I read about food before I go to sleep, the next day I will be more excited to cook, but if I watch sports centre, or soccer news/fanzone, I will fall asleep tired, and likewise the next day I just don't want to do it. Obviously each day is different, but I find when lunch really drags in December your screwed. Stefan has some good advice there, I always try to stretch. People at work laugh at me when I say I'm on my jamaican vacation when I'm sweating like crazy, but I just think of it that way, I almost enjoy the heat when I think of the sun and the beach. Whatever games you play to get yourself to do it I say. Good luck everyone, we will get through it like always, and just think of how great that first week of February before Valentine's day will be. I know my season is so busy this year I have Christmas parties atleast into the 20s of January.

sachem allison
11-21-2013, 03:52 AM
burn it down!

11-21-2013, 05:15 AM
"This may sound strange, but try to keep a positive perspective and consciously do one nice thing for yourself every day."
So a professional says it is good for your health to buy a new knife daily.Can i get a prescription please.

11-21-2013, 05:28 AM
Hey, you can step out your door and snorkel in the most beautiful reef everyday, that's nice and free ;)


11-21-2013, 05:52 AM
Hey, you can step out your door and snorkel in the most beautiful reef everyday, that's nice and free ;)

Sadly not - no boat.

Von blewitt
11-21-2013, 07:27 AM
I find it helps not to count the hours, ignorance is bliss

11-23-2013, 01:59 AM
hehe I only count the hours on payday, but definitely not while I'm working.

Von blewitt
11-23-2013, 02:15 AM
If you're getting paid for every hour you're working you're doing pretty good IMO, the longest hours I worked were on salary. Now I work for myself I don't count hours, but I also don't get paid :D

12-21-2013, 07:13 PM
London restaurants, yep. All the decent places are salary paid. I’ve just got out of that scenario, and have moved into a very well know restaurant which has a double team, so no AFDs unless you want the hours. And no way do we get overtime. We sign contracts saying something to this effect: “This salary is for 50 hours, but if that is exceeded you will not be able to claim overtime”

12-22-2013, 02:12 AM
Wow in the states that is against the law.

Von blewitt
12-22-2013, 02:35 AM
That's standard practice in Oz as well, especially the top places. For young guys who want to learn its definately worth it, it becomes harder to justify when you have enough experience to do your own thing, but the Margins are small at that end of the market, 99% of bosses would love to pay a decent wage, but its not feasible. I'm struggling a bit with this myself at the moment, my guys are worth more than I pay them, but its a new business. I try to make up for it with good conditions, and a pleasant work environment.

12-28-2013, 05:55 PM
I do it three times a year 110 hour work weeks for a month or so sometimes longer. What I used to do was sleep at work two days out of the week. On my day off I would not tub there to five times a day to relax my muscles so I feel refreshed. So I can do it for another three weeks. Mentally I keep telling myself all that I did today was great, but not perfect, and try to obtain perfection. It gives me purpose to keep working hard.

12-29-2013, 02:59 PM
We sign contracts saying something to this effect: “This salary is for 50 hours, but if that is exceeded you will not be able to claim overtime”

Wow in the states that is against the law.In the US you do not need to pay salaried workers OT.

12-30-2013, 04:12 AM
No you wont get ot with a salary. But you can get the time back lets say you worked 60 hrs in a normal 50 hrs work week. The next week or some time soon you will get the 10 hours off. Hourly worker would get ot at 40hrs.

12-30-2013, 03:05 PM
Have not seen comp time be mandatory either. Maybe it varies state by state? In the A/E world, working lots of extra hours when deadlines approach is pretty common; I do not know of any firms that hand out comp time like that. Maybe out of the goodness of their hearts they will comp you a day off to cover the 40 extra hours you worked.