7 Tips for Leaving the Office Earlier
1. Stop participating in the cultural rules. Commit to getting out the door
on time. Who decided that you should work until 7:00 p.m.? How much is the time
"you're devoting because you're a salaried employee and obligated to do
what it takes to get the job done" worth?
Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, is president of The Productivity
Pro, Inc., an international consulting firm specializing in productivity
improvement in high-stress industries and is the media's go-to expert on
personal productivity and workplace issues. Laura is the author of the
bestselling book Leave the Office Earlier (2004 Broadway Books). She has
appeared on many top news media outlets including CNN, NBC-TV, NPR, Bloomberg,
the New York Times, and numerous leading magazines. Laura presents keynotes and
seminars on surviving information overload, managing multiple priorities,
reducing stress, and balancing work and family. (C) Copyright 2004 Laura Stack,
MBA, CSP. All rights reserved.
2. Start meetings before 4:00 p.m. If you have some say or control regarding
meeting times, schedule them to end by 4:30. Preferably, start meetings right
after lunch. Block out your calendar beginning at 4:00 every day so people can't
schedule with you. And don't ask people to begin projects at 4:45 PM. Respect
their right to a life, too.
3. Be assertive. Don't be afraid to tell others, "I leave work at 5:00, on
time, every day. I have a 5:30 commitment I must adhere to." It's none of
their business that your commitment is with yourself or your family. People tend
to support others when their goals are made public.
4. Schedule fixed office hours. If you have an assistant, block off certain
hours a few days a week to accept appointments. Perhaps Monday, Wednesday, and
Friday, you take appointments from 9:00 to 10:30 and 2:00 to 3:30. This way you
don't have interruptions overlapping the time you're trying to leave the office.
5. Make preparations to leave. Gather up your coat and put it in a visible spot
so others can see you're on your way out. Close your door a few minutes before
quitting time so people will think you're busy or already gone. Whatever they
want, it can wait until tomorrow.
6. Challenge your assumptions. Long hours aren't "the way it is." To
reduce the time pressure you feel, decide to reclaim your day, not by working
longer, but to finish your work within the workday. Don't focus on
"catching up." You will never catch up. There will always be more
things to do than time to do them. By being more productive during the day,
you'll get the same amount of work done and leave earlier.
7. Start small. Pick a single day, perhaps Thursdays, to be "the" day
you leave work on time. To support this decision, you will automatically begin
to be more productive on Thursdays and work your day more carefully. Keep
working on productivity skills and adding more days, until you're working your
40-hour workweek again and accomplishing even better results.