Are you always caught up in the office even after closing hours? You catch up on calls and emails and sometimes hope the boss notices you. Research reveals that 80% of workers spend time “after hours” answering emails and returning phone calls.
The truth is, your busyness doesn’t really equate productivity. On the contrary, working long hours directly correlates to stress, anxiety and heart disease. Also, there are other health issues that are a result of stress. Avoid them at all cost. The best way to avoid unnecessary stress is to ensure you leave the office on time. Whatever it is you left undone will still wait for you the next working day. There is also less productivity when you indulge in that “after hour” work routine. Therefore, there is no point in wasting time and risking your health and wellness by staying ‘a few hours’ behind.
However, there are several reasons why people stay back. Some actually have no other choice because they have a deadline. In another case, it could be a matter of getting distracted easily or failing to prioritise, which results in more work and less time.
Whatever the reason is, there’s a need for you to prioritise your health first. Whether you’re a working parent, a spouse, single or just an intern, you should take note of these essential tips. Find out how you can ensure you clock out of work on time as against staying back or even leaving vital work left undone.
How to ensure you always leave the office on time
The following guide will help you to create a plan towards ensuring you leave work early.
1. Create an end-of-day routine
Having a routine can help you be more organised. The same one that helps you get out of bed and into bed can also help you clock out of the office on time.
Belle Beth Cooper, the co-founder of Exist, shares the following end-of-day routine that will help you in the long run.
- Tidy your desk, save everything you’re working on and close out of all your tabs and windows.
- Review your completed tasks at the end of each day.
- Plan tomorrow’s to-do list.
- Leave open just the one tab you need to finish your Most Important Task in the morning. You will do it first thing tomorrow.
- Break down the tasks you’ve been avoiding into smaller, more manageable ones.
2. Avoid late-day chats at the office
“Eliminate inconvenient late-day chats with co-workers by scheduling time to check in on them earlier in the day,” says Lydia Wickliffe Fenet. She is the senior vice president of international director of strategic partnerships at Christie’s.
3. Set a non-negotiable leaving time
If you commit yourself to a particular leaving time, you can easily keep to it. Also, inform others of the time you have to leave. For instance, say, “I’ve got to be out of here by 5 PM, so if you need anything please inform me by 4 PM.” Rather than waste the opportunity to leave early, you should schedule a pressing need.
Below are things you can do when you leave early:
- Meet a friend or your spouse for dinner.
- Agree to be home for dinner at a particular time.
- Go to the gym or outside for exercise after work.
- Book a haircut or dentist appointment after work.
- Sign up for a class or team sport.
4. Commit to a carpool
“Joining a carpool can force you to stay on a strict schedule both before and after work,” blogger Kristin Bytes shares.
5. Don’t waste time at the office during the day
A lot of workers are guilty of doing this. They get very relaxed during the day and end up doing less. It is also very easy to get distracted by phones, unnecessary emails or texts. Being distracted can undermine your productivity when you need to be more active. That, in turn, would result in more work at the end of the day. You can schedule a time to check emails so that you can solely focus on the task at hand.
6. Use technology to your advantage
Technology can actually affect productivity when not utilised properly. Therefore, you can get an app that can aid your workflow. One like 30/30 is a great task manager to help achieve this. It helps you stay on a task for a specific time frame.
7. Set aside time to do menial tasks
“Figure out which end-of-day tasks (like retrieving your lunch bag from the fridge, making tomorrow’s to-do list or checking in with co-workers) are keeping you around a little longer and set aside time to do them earlier on,” explains Krista Skehan, founder and chief creative officer of design firm Personify.
8. Re-frame the way you think about leaving work
Leaving work on time shouldn’t make you feel guilty. As long as you’re being productive to the best of your ability you are permitted to leave work and to see to your personal needs. However, you might worry about seeming aloof. Therefore, you need to re-frame the way you think about leaving work to avoid feeling guilty. Rather than just saying, “I’m leaving now”, you can say the following as suggested by Belle Beth Cooper;
- “I’m going home to spend time with my family now.”
- “I am going to a school event to support my kids now.”
- “I’m going to the gym to keep my body in shape now.”
- “I am going home to cook now because it helps me relax and good food helps me stay healthy.”
- “I’m going to meet a friend for dinner now because regular socialising helps me feels connected to others.”
- “I am going to get a haircut now because looking good helps me feel confident.”
Productivity is more than working hard and long; you need to remember to work smart. Don’t wear yourself out in an attempt to be productive.