Are you always the last one out the door at the end of the day, turning out the lights and saying hello to the overnight cleaning staff? If you wish you could just stop working and head home on a regular basis, but don’t know how to get started, read on.
Stop being late and start getting a handle on your time. You just might make it home to see your family and walk the dog while it’s still light out. Here’s how:
1. Start with a schedule
You need to assess your time management. Where is your schedule bleeding time? Are you running over meetings? Double dipping your “quality time” with coworkers who have to sign off on projects before they move forward? Get it wrangled. Divide your day into hard stuff and easy stuff. The hard stuff is going to take longer, so put that first on your To Do list.
“Don’t tell yourself that you’ll get it done later in the day,” Writes Elizabeth Grace Saunders at Fast Company. “That’s a recipe for trying to tackle it in the last hour you’re in the office, because as soon as something unexpected comes up, your already-delayed task will spill over into your evening. You buy yourself flexibility, on the other hand, just by committing to working on it earlier.”
2. Check your delegation skills
Are you regularly doing work outside of your job description? If you’re being tasked with more than what your pay grade calls for, then draw your line in the sand today. Make a careful accounting of your job’s required duties and what you’re being asked to do. Take that accounting to your superior with a plan to delegate all your extraneous tasks that are causing your late-night burnout. Your manager should appreciate the fact that you’re keeping your eyes open when it comes to being more productive at work, and that you’re able to delegate like a boss.
When you say you're going to go home, go home. Don't linger. Don't apologize. And whatever you do, don't take work home to do later. Just unplug, unwind, and get some balance back into your life.
3. Set early deadlines
Just like the saying, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can start today,” you shouldn’t delay a project just because you think you’ll have time to do it later. “Later” is when all the unexpected things happen. If you need to lie to your brain a bit and set those deadlines for yourself a few days in advance, for a smidge of padding, then do that. That way, even if the computers crash and that raccoon gets in the ceiling tiles again, you’ll have plenty of time to get that report finished on time.
4. Block out the distractions
Avoid Chatty Nancy, get those headphones on, turn off Facebook and rock out that project. If you get those distracting annoyances out of your workday and your productivity will soar. If you need some help finding your Zen in the open office, check out some tips on getting through the work grind without a lot of privacy.
5. Learn when to go home
Working all the time isn’t healthy. So don’t take pride in being the last one out every night. You’re not doing yourself – or your employer – any favors by working yourself into the grave. When you say you’re going to go home (and it’s a reasonable hour) go home. Don’t linger. Don’t apologize. Don’t (whatever you do) take work home to do later. Just unplug, unwind, and get some balance back into that equation.
There. Now doesn’t that feel better?
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