In the modern corporate world, there is the mistaken assumption, that ‘working late equals working harder.’ There is also a bias towards working mothers (parents) who need to leave work at a particular time, while other colleagues are still working.
I refute the belief that staying late equals working harder. Maybe. But I am not convinced. At all.
A better way to assess levels of productivity is by looking at outputs and not by who sticks around until late.
Often we are encouraged to ‘work hard,’ and ‘stretch ourselves’. Yes, that it is important, however, it is essential to set boundaries. Whether it is to get home to your child, go gym or because you have band practice (I am just saying, it could be anything).
This is how to get time back into your day, get things done and leave on time.
Let go of the guilt when you pick up your bag to leave the office!Dear Working mother - here is how to leave the office on time (by being focused on getting things done) Click To Tweet
Dear Working Mother – Here Is How To Leave Work On Time
Plan your day and Focus on the right things
Do you start your day with no idea what your priorities are? Following a haphazard approach to whatever comes your way? – if yes then there is an opportunity to plan your day.
When you get to work, become laser focused on your main priorities. Use whichever system works for you. I have set up for myself a hybrid between a Bullet Journal and a Planner, I copy this layout (more or less) in my work notebook. You may download the planner template here.
Outline your main focus areas for the week.
Set this up Sunday evening or Monday morning. Then, each morning spend 3 – 5 minutes outlining what will be your top three goals for the day. Yes, only three then tackle at least one before you read emails. The items you do not complete get carried over to the next day and so on. You should also add other tasks to your list. However, you know what the top 3 are.
Yes, you will have unexpected deliverables that will pop up, but you will always keep coming back to your three primary goals.
And yes, also add your personal tasks. Need to make a school fees payment or book a dentist appointment? Add it on to your to-do list.
Number one productivity killer is meetings
Meetings, meetings, meetings.
Do you sit in a meeting and go ‘why was I invited to this meeting’ or ‘I could be doing actual work right now’ – if yes then there is an opportunity to rework your meeting schedule.
I love the recommendation from Psychology Today, cancel 50% of your meetings and you will get more done! Okay, easier said than done. Let’s take a more pragmatic approach.
Firstly, accept that a meeting is not ‘work’.
Meetings are discussing and organising work. Here are a few excellent points on how to make a meeting productive.
Reevaluating and cutting the time you spend in meetings will undoubtedly make you more productive and allow you to leave work on time. Politely decline meetings you feel are not relevant to your priorities.Struggling to leave work on time? Tip: assess your meetings, then ask yourself are they all necessary? Click To Tweet
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Use time blocks and get more done
A practice I have implemented for myself is to block out 2 -3 hours in my diary daily for PURE work. No meetings. All meetings get scheduled around this time if need be. I also block out 16h00 – 17h00, so I have no meetings after 16h00 (so I can wrap up at the end of my day). It works 90% of the time, which is progress.
Working over time, leads to decreased productivity
Continually working over time will reduce your productivity. As work hours add up to over 50 per week, productivity slows down. You may lose energy and start working slower. You can read further about this study as summarised in the Economist.
But, don’t take my word for it. Reflect upon your health and pace of work. Do you really feel that you are productive at work when you have been pushing 12 hours days? When you are always under pressure to stay late at work? When you are wrecked with guilt because its another day you miss supper or bath time?
Time is a valuable resource. Our jobs need our time and dedication, but so does our friends, family, and personal commitments.
Long hours does not equal doing more. It’s pretty simple: Prioritize, evaluate your time spent in meetings and learn to set boundaries.
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