It’s 4am and you’re just coming out from your Friday night bartending shift. Your feet hurt. Your back aches, and you just want to sit down and relax. You finish all of the items on your close out checklist, and then sit down with your co-workers for a few hours to unwind.

There were a bunch of things you were hoping to accomplish on Saturday morning — you wanted to get your laundry done, go grocery shopping, workout and start a DIY table-building project. Unfortunately, you slept in until 2pm and only have two hours to spare before you start your next shift. You think to yourself, “there’s never enough time in the day for me to get everything done!”

Working long hours and late-night shifts isn’t always easy. It’s draining and makes it difficult to prioritize yourself and your personal growth — but it can be done. 

Here are 5 suggestions you can use to better balance your life, hobbies and bartending career:

Plan Your Day — EVERY DAY!

Bartending is an immersive career, and as such it requires your full attention when you’re slinging drinks behind the bar. Sometimes shifts are incredibly long, and the bar will be so busy you can’t even take a break to use the restroom. That’s why it’s important to plan your day every single day.


Because planning your day, everyday, will keep you organized and ensure you’re completing all of the tasks you need to get done AND want to get done. Doing this will not only make you feel productive and accomplished, but it’ll help you from feeling burnt out and like you’re spending all of your time serving other people rather than yourself.

As soon as you wake up in the morning, write a to-do list and order your priorities from most important to least important. As you go through your day, check off everything you complete off of your list.

At the end of the day, assess what you completed and didn’t complete. Then begin planning your day for tomorrow.

Continuously Set Goals AND Work Towards Achieving Them

Bartending shifts, especially when you’re working doubles or several days in a row, can start to feel like they’re all the same. Don’t be like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and doom yourself to doing the same thing day in and day out — that’s not fun, and not how life was meant to be lived. Instead, set personal and work goals and work towards achieving them.

If you don’t know where to begin, start by setting one personal goal and one work-related goal each week. These goals should be manageable and realistic — I mean, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm yourself when you’re trying to find balance in your life, ya know?

Your goals might look something like this:

  1. Create a signature drink
  2. Learn about (insert interest here)

When I decided to go to graduate school my personal goal one week was to research graduate schools of interest, and my work-related goal was to save all of my tips from my Saturday shift. Each week I altered my personal goal, and sometimes my work-related goal (although typically, mine centered around saving money).

Cut Back on After-Work Socialization

As a bartender who works long hours, often late into the night, sometimes it feels like the only time you have to sit back and relax is in the wee hours of the night, after the customers have left.

This kind of late-night socialization is great once in awhile as it promotes co-worker bonding and is nice to unwind, but as a habitual practice it is detrimental to your sleep schedule as well as your ability to be productive.

I know from personal experience when I did this, I’d end up sleeping in all day up until an hour or two before my next shift was set to start. This prevented me from being productive during the day because I was fast asleep, and it made me feel like I was just living to work which was depressing.

When I stopped hanging out after work I was amazed at what happened. Rather than sleeping all day, I was able to get up early and do my errands, set goals, create a daily to do list and actually do everything listed on it! This enabled me to manage my time, and ultimately my life better.

And the best part? You don’t have to become pregnant to take advantage of this suggestion. You can start reaping the benefits now but choosing to spend less time hanging out after work.

Save All of Your Tips from One Shift Per Week

Bartending shifts can be unpredictable — sometimes they’re slammed, sometimes they’re slow, sometimes you make a lot of money, sometimes you don’t make back what you spent to get to work.

This kind of instability can wreak havoc on your mental and financial well-being. Rather than relying on what you’re making each shift to get by, save your money as you go. Choose one shift per week, and save all of the money you earn from that shift.

This way you always have a buffer when some shifts don’t pan out to be as lucrative as you would’ve liked them to be. Also, it’ll prevent you from feeling like you have to pick up every available and/or last minute shift that comes up because you need money — meaning you can plan your days and weeks better!

Spend 15 Uninterrupted Minutes on Yourself

As a bartender, it’s your job to serve other people, but how often do you sit back and serve yourself and your needs?

Every day set aside at least 15 minutes where you can do something YOU enjoy without being interrupted. Take a walk. Read a book. Write. Meditate. Practice your photography skills. Start a DIY project. Whatever makes you happy — do that.

Doing this will put you in a positive mindset throughout the week, and especially before your shifts. You won’t feel like you’re always putting everyone else before yourself because you’ll be spending time on yourself everyday too.

By putting these 5 suggestions to use you’ll feel more organized, accomplished and balanced both at work and outside of work!

Antasha Durbin

Antasha is a seasoned bartender with more than seven years of bartending and hospitality experience. She is also a spiritual writer at, where she writes free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living. You can follow her on Twitter @cajspirituality for daily inspiration.