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.
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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!
[bctt tweet=”Dear Working mother – here is how to leave the office on time (by being focused on getting things done)” username=”cherralle_”]
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.
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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.
Here is a crazy thought, 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.
[bctt tweet=”Struggling to leave work on time? Tip: assess your meetings, then ask yourself are they all necessary?” username=”cherralle_”]
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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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33 thoughts on “Dear Working Mother – Here Is How To Leave Work On Time (most days)”
I always felt like the overachieving worker working harder but my mind was on spending as much time with my baby before bed time cane around. This is a great post!
I understand that feeling. At work late but thinking about missing out on bed / bath time. Sometimes it had to be like that, but i try to work to minimize it as much as possible. Thank you for your comment.
I absolutely am annoyed at those who watch the clock – 8-5 and if you’re outside of those hours, then something is wrong. Productivity is about output and the quality therefore. I am more prouductive in a flexi-hours environment. Anything else is so old school and quite unproductive if you ask me.
Loved this! I work from home (for a corporation) now, but I do the priority list and tackle the most important before I do anything else.
Indeed working with a plan is important. Thank you for commenting
You have shared some great tips. These ideas are a great fit for not only mamas in the workforce but also those self-employed mamas that are full time bloggers as well. Working without a plan and not setting priorities will definitely lead to an unproductive day.
Thank you amandela / yes it does apply to self employed working moms as well.
You hit the nail on the head with this! Working later doesn’t mean you’re working harder. And honestly with what I do, no matter how late you stay it feels like the to do list is never even halfway done. It’s just not worth missing out on time with my family.
Awesome tips thank you for definitely I will download the planning to start
Great tips! I agree with you that we should keep our life balance. We should not sacrifice our family and social life for working only. It is easy to be said than to be done, but nothing is impossible if we commit to do that. Mother’s happiness is when we can spent the time with our children and make them happy.
Working from home has definitely taught me the importance of making a plan at the beginning of the day – otherwise it can get to 4pm and I realise I haven’t got anything done!
Some great tips. Going to share this with all my working mommy friends! #LekkerLinky
Thank you Charlene 🙂
Great tips, especially the part about meetings being productive. In my previous life as a PA my boss would often decline meetings that were a waste of his time.
Thank you. It can derail productivity significantly. Thank you for commenting
Sorry – I forgot to add #lekkerlinky
As a working mom, I agree wholeheartedly. Time management is absolutely everything.
Thank you for your comment. I feel that when I’m that situation if i know you want to leave a certain time – I am able to ensure I finish on time.
Thank you for this! I’ve been a SAHM for the first year of my girls’ lives and I will be returning to school and interning very soon and from there, transitioning back into the work force. I’m scared to death I will no longer have the time I desire for my children and I’m very stressed about returning to the work force.
Time available will change. Iv been home with my girls now for one month – and I really loved it but I know it was a short lived blessing. Time and energy management definitely becomes pivotal when I work full time again, Thank you for commenting and all the best.
Thoroughly enjoyed this. I mist be honest though, I don’t really have troubke leaving the office as I leave on the dot always because I’ve always believed that every minute after my working hours belong to me and my family therefore I want to get them as soon as I can. But i always struggle on managing my day and getting through all the things I need to before I leave the office. So I will definitely be trying out your suggestion on writing down just 3 tasks. Thanks for this article.
I am so happy about this article. My job believes in seeing you at your desk all day. I believe that true productivity is completing your work with the allotted time. As a wife and mother I place emphasis on completing a days work so that i dont have work left for the next day. Each day has its own troubles. Work smarter, not harder.
work smarter not harder, that is true. With so many competing responsibilities, there is no time for doing things that dont add to your goals at work. It sounds like you got it down!
These are a helpful reminder. The struggle can get real and along comes the guilty feeling. Thank you so much #lekkerlinky
I totally agree with this “Working over time, leads to decreased productivity”. Great tips Cherralle.
Apologies my son pressed reply!
Sometimes we feel being the first to leave the office equates to being less productive or less invested at work when actually we know we have to leave ‘on time’ so we make sure we work harder during the day to get the most done!
I agree 100%. Working hard during the day to leave on time is my approach too. Thank you for commenting
I salute working mothers because they are really hard working. They even have to work overtime when there’s a need for it and can lead to several issues like not having enough time at home or experiencing stress or back pain. I like your tips here and can really help more working moms. 🙂