7 secrets to leaving office on time
You promised your spouse that you would be home for dinner, but you’re still stuck in office. You want to leave at 6 pm every day, but never get out of your cubical before 7.30 pm. You constantly crib about never being able to pursue your hobbies, but don’t know how to carve time into your day.
If you thought logging in extra hours every working day translated into being the best on the team, think again.
Respondents in a recent Monster poll revealed that working late hours doesn't score you brownie points. Far from it. As many as 35% of the respondents said working overtime means you're unorganised, while 32% said it signals you are being overworked. Almost 18% thought a late worker was a people pleaser while 15% thought a person who worked late was a shoo-in for underperformance.
Instead of spending all that time cooped up in office, experts suggest that you work smart, increase your productivity and get out of the door on time to enjoy grab work-life balance.
But when was the last time you got out of office at the time you were scheduled to?
It is possible.
Craig Jarrow, author of Time Management Ninja, aims to help individuals and companies reclaim their time. He believes that with a little advanced planning and saying “no” where appropriate, you can get out of the office on time.
“Just like getting out the door at home on time, it takes some planning and advance action. But, it can be done. You can have a life after the office,” Jarrow says.
Try these simple tips and see how they can change the way your work day ends:
#1 Start your day with the end in mind
If you don’t work towards it, the work day won’t end when you want it to. Best-selling time management author Brian Tracy writes that one minute of planning at the start saves 10 minutes of work later. Going with the flow is the norm at the workplace, but people who prioritise and list down things that must be closed during the day are far better placed to leave on time than those who don’t block time on their calendar.
Tip: Joining a class or group that meets after work will ensure that you make a commitment to leaving on time.
#2 First things first: Eat that frog first
Mark Twain sure knew what he was talking about. If the first thing you do every morning is eat a live frog, you can get through the rest of the day with the worst is behind you. Do the most critical work – often the worst – first thing in the morning instead of squandering time on less important things.
Tip: A weekly planner with critical tasks detailed out, be it a monthly report or the agenda for a meeting, will keep you on track.
#3 Strategise when it comes to your workday
If you want to leave when you should actually be leaving, it’s time to rethink your workday. Try getting to work early to get in some quality solo time that you can use to “eat the frog”. Going out for lunch is fine once in a while, but a long lunch hour every day can throw the second half off track.
Tip: Ensure that you never schedule meetings for the end of the day. Extended meetings have a habit of throwing schedules off track.
#4 Set tough boundaries, and stay the course
It’s perfectly normal for meetings and calls to start running over. But you need to know when it’s imperative to say stop. Get ready to hang up or excuse yourself from the long meeting when your self-imposed deadline nears.
Tip: If you tell people you will leave at a certain time, you’ll circumvent last-minute assignments or meetings.
#5 Delegate all that you can, except what you excel at
If you try to do everything, chances are you won’t finish anything. James Cash Penney, founder of the US-based J.C. Penney retail chain, has said that the surest way for an executive to kill himself is to refuse to learn “how, and when, and to whom to delegate work”. Most of us know our strengths; keep those tasks with you and delegate the rest.
Tip: Stop thinking that you are the only one who can do the job perfectly and let go with complete job instructions.
#6 Work on improving your productivity
There are only so many hours in a workday, so it's crucial to make the most of them. Work smarter to enhance your productivity: Set self-imposed deadlines, work offline when you can, hold standing meetings and take regular breaks. The two-minute rule - if you can do it in two minutes, go for it - also helps.
Tip: Turn off your notifications to focus better. Instead of letting emails go back and forth, pick up the phone to save hours of reading and responding.
#7 Give yourself 20 minutes for pack-up
Announcing that you must leave at 6 pm is one thing; actually leaving at that time every day is another. It gets easier if you devote your last 20 minutes at the desk to tying up loose ends and prepping for the next day.
Tip: File your papers, clean your desk and send off last-minute email to ensure you’re ready for tomorrow.