the twenty something’s guide to working full-time

Jessica DeBano


You’ve done it. You’ve landed your first full-time, 40-hour a week, job. Way to go, girl! Hello 401K, black slacks, and early morning commutes.

This was the scenario I found myself in two years ago. I had just recently graduated from college and my body was accustomed to late nights spent studying, mid-afternoon yoga dates, and day trips to local hiking trails. Upon graduation, I accepted a full-time position with a local business and honestly, I had no idea my body could even function before 11:00 a.m. It turns out it could! It took weeks, even months for my body to adjust to this new schedule. I can’t say I’ve accumulated the most healthy habits, but there are shortcuts that make 8 a.m. clock-ins just a little bit easier.

1. Breakfast, sort of.

I’ve always known breakfast is important. Not only does it fuels your body to function properly throughout the day, but it’s also delicious. Growing up, my mother always sent me to school with a toasted whole-wheat English muffin, fried egg with bacon and cheddar cheese. Those were the days. Now, I opt for something a little quicker, and more office-friendly. It’s a meal replacement shake by Premier Protein. It helps me avoid skipping meals, and potentially reaching for something less nutritious later in the day. The shake has 30 grams of protein, is only 160 calories (if you’re counting), has less than 1 gram of sugar (extremely low), and has tons of vitamins and minerals.


I love the ‘Bananas & Cream’ flavor. It is $7.49 for a four pack. It can be purchased online at, Walmart, and Safeway. But don’t count on ‘Bananas & Cream’ being readily available everywhere. It’s hit or miss. I’m currently drinking the Chocolate version because Banana Cream was sold out. Regardless, I just love this product. I’ve been drinking it everyday for the past 10 months and haven’t gotten tired of it. However, save yourself the heartache and don’t try the ‘Strawberries and Cream’. Trust me. It tastes weirdly artificial.

2. Caffeine

This one goes without saying. Caffeine is your friend, but there’s a fine line between awake & alert, and pure anxiety. As someone who developed anxiety a few years ago, I have to be careful about my caffeine intake. Currently, I opt for one 12 oz. Sugar-Free Redbull with Sugar Free Syrup. It’s not the healthiest, but it makes my morning meetings fun! And if you’re a coffee drinker, well then I left more for you. 🙂

3. Shower the night before.

Shower 30 minutes before you go to sleep. This will relax and prepare you for a solid night’s rest. Make sure and moisturize. Tired skin is dry skin. When you rise in the A.M. you’ll just have to curl your hair and voila- beautiful tresses for your 8-5. This trick saves time, and precious morning energy, which is something we need to conserve. Yes, morning showers make you feel clean and awake, but it’s an extra 15-20 minutes of sleep you miss out on, and don’t forget to factor in blowdry/curl time or be prepared to have wet hair all morning. Wouldn’t you rather sleep an extra 40 minutes and have nice, styled hair?

4. Pack your own lunch (it’s not why you think.)

Packing your own lunch is a great option if you’re working full-time because it keeps you in control of what you’re putting in your body. We need food that is going to keep us productive all day long. Spending 20 minutes driving to a fast-food joint is a time killer and can negatively impact your wallet and waste line. I suggest packing a fresh lunch so you can spend 15 minutes eating, and… 45 minutes napping. Yes, naps! Napping boosts productivity, but just makes sure you set an alarm. I probably do this 2-3 times a week.

5. Podcasts.

Podcasts are great, especially in the morning during your commute to work. Listening to an audiobook or podcast is an excellent way to stimulate your brain and break up the repitive Top 40 radio. My favorite podcast to listen to is the World News Roundup by CBS News anchored by Steven Kathan. On average, it is only about 8-10 minutes long. It streamlines today’s news to keep you informed and up-to-date about what’s going on in the world.

6. Plan your meals.

After working 8 hours, the last thing I want to do after work is visit the grocery store. I like to plan my meals a few days in advance as to avoid arriving to the store hungry. We all know what happens when you drive to the store hungry. Donuts. Donuts are what happens. Plan on making meals that are easy to prepare, and make sure to cook enough for lunch tomorrow.

7. Create a bedtime.

And stick to it. Whether you need 6, 8, or 10 hours of sleep, make sure you create a schedule that works for you. I go to sleep no later than 10:30 p.m. and rise at 7:00 a.m. Any less than this, and I have to nap on my lunch, deal with the anxiety of (2) Redbulls, and fight fatigue all day long. Just go to sleep. Put your phone away, you aren’t missing out anything.

8. Save your laundry.

Save your laundry for Sunday. And don’t feel guilty about it. During the week, I try to keep things tidy but a little disheveled laundry never hurt anyone. I like to set aside Sunday as a day to deep clean my house (i.e. clean kitchen/dishes, sweep/mop floors, wash sheets/laundry, and bathrooms), and declutter my purse to get ready for the upcoming week.


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. Don’t just focus on Friday.

Your life should be enjoyed every day. Working full-time doesn’t mean you can’t explore other interests during the week. Create standing plans for Monday-Friday that you enjoy doing. This will give you something to look forward to, other than just the weekend. For instance, on Mondays, I get together with my best friend to make dinner so we can catch up on each other’s weekend. Maybe you devote Tuesdays to reading tue chapters out of a novel you just picked up. Get it, Tue (two)?

10. Remmber, be kind.

Let’s face it. Some days, you’ll be cranky. On these days, do your best to not take it out on others. Remember, everyone is always going through something, even if they don’t always show it. If you’re tired, be tired. But don’t take it out on the rest of the world. It’s not their fault you stayed up late binge-watching a Netflix series. Also, limit the “I’m tired” quotes. It’ll start to annoy people. I would know, I’ve said it my entire life, and people have verbally expressed how annoying it is.

And when all else fails: skip the breakfast, skip the podcast, skip the shower, skip the lunch, fall asleep in your dirty laundry and try again tomorrow.

Happy Monday!

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