We’ve all grumbled about working past 5pm, despite secretly knowing that it was our procrastination throughout the day that caused us to stay overtime at the office.
Working late isn’t just a mood killer, it’s also bad for your health. Putting in longer hours at work increases stress levels and studies have observed that many are left mentally exhausted and unproductive. It was also observed as a risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.
But how do you step out of the office without compromising your job? These tactics are proven to help you punch out of work on time.
1. Turn off your email 30 minutes before you leave: The last half an hour of your day is precious and can’t be spent replying to emails that could add to your work pile and keep you working late again. Instead, switch off your email and even your phone, if you can help it, to avoid distractions.
2. Make a routine to finish your workday: Instead of starting a new assignment, use the last hour of your day to get ready for the next workday. Tidy up your desk and quickly jot down a to-do list for the next day. It also helps you get a head start on your most important tasks by preparing all files and relevant tabs on your desk. Having a system makes you consistent and gets you out the door when you’re done.
3. Come into work early: Employees who repeatedly get promoted have a few hacks when it comes to their work habits. Arriving at work before everyone else gives you ample time to work peacefully and without interruptions, and you’re likely to make faster progress.
4. Start your day with the difficult tasks: The first hours of your workday are your golden hours. According to research, you’re at your productive best at this time. Start with the toughest task on your list because you’re likely to get it done faster and better than if you keep it for later.
5. Focus on one task at a time: We can’t stress the importance of avoiding multitasking. Studies have found that doing two tasks at once takes double the time and increases mistakes. You’re better off focusing on one task and finishing it before moving on to the next one.
6. Cut ten minutes from your lunchbreak: Putting aside ten minutes of your lunchbreak for work gives you an extra hour of productivity every week. It allows you to slip out of the office, having completed your work, without feeling guilty that you spent too much time taking breaks.
7. Push your meetings to an earlier time: It’s better to schedule meetings at 11am rather than 4pm. Having late meetings causes unexpected work to pile up on your desk when you’re supposed to leave. Early meetings are shorter and more efficient, as opposed to evening meetings that could run late.
8. Open your inbox after 10am: One of the biggest time suckers, even more than Facebook, is email. Don’t get sucked into replying to emails first thing in the morning since that can take up hours of your day and can even cause you to wander into social media. Instead, start with some heavy work and get a chunk of your to-do list out of the way before you open your inbox.
9. Know when to say no: There will be days when you’re required to stay late and finish that urgent task. But that doesn’t mean you should work past your scheduled hours on a daily basis. Talk to your boss or your colleague who is assigning you more responsibility and turn down the task politely or delegate it to someone else.
10. Pick up a post-work hobby: Some of the most successful people I know have a scheduled time right after work to pursue an activity they enjoy. Be it going to the gym or for a swim or to pottery or knitting classes, having an engagement right after work makes you more accountable for your time outside of work and pushes you out of your chair on the dot.
Making an effort to get out of work early also makes a positive change in your lifestyle, allowing you to carve out some time for yourself and to spend with family and friends.