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How to Leave Work on Time

Published by: LifeWorks,

Most of us find it hard to leave work on time. Last-minute requests push us into overtime, or we fail to prioritize and find ourselves stuck at work finishing something we could have done earlier. Unforeseen circumstances are one thing, but when it becomes habitual, there’s something else at play.

Despite these perceived pressures, you can leave on time. Here’s how:

Ramp up communication. Talk to your manager about your plan. By doing so, rather than just trying to leave when no one is looking, you’ll have their consideration. Managers, customers, and co-workers become less likely to drop to-dos on your lap toward the end of the day when you establish a pattern of leaving on time and communicate your schedule with them.

Understand the consequences. It’s happened to everyone: you spend way more time than needed on a task because you were tired when you started. Research shows working longer hours doesn’t contribute to higher productivity. In studying a variety of research, the Harvard Business Review found working more than 40 hours a week could make some workers less productive, put them at risk for making mistakes, and create the appearance of poor time-management skills.

Plan your day before arriving at work. It’s easy to get distracted by email, social media or talking to co-workers during the day. If you want to leave on time, you need to be efficient within working hours. Rather than go with the flow of the workday, know what you need to get done when you walk in the door. When you plan your workday before you arrive, you should make a psychological commitment to that departure time. Some days may not go as planned. Many will.

Give yourself a 20-minute window for departure. If you wait until 6 p.m. to start packing up, you likely will get delayed by distractions. Once you’ve set your departure time, block out the 20 minutes prior to that time on your calendar to clean up any last daily details.

These tips can help you with remote working and working from home as well. Since commuting times are basically non-existent, it can be easy to lose track of time and get distracted. Establishing a routine like this helps maintain a good work-life balance.

With some forethought, you can actually wrap up work on time. First, you have to want to. Then you have to adopt new work habits to make it happen.

With content from Cindy Krischer Goodman

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