Tomorrow is National Go Home on Time Day. Yep, there's actually a national day to promote it – that's how terrible we all are at giving our employers more minutes, hours, days, weeks and even months than we're actually paid to do.
Telling yourself you're going to leave on time is all well and good, but how are you actually going to get the work you need to do done in time to actually get out the door?
It starts with you. Here are a seven tips for making the most of the work day
- Don't do other people's work. Spend time delegating, be vigilant in not taking on too much more than what's required of you (you want to put in a little more, of course) and learn to say the word "no".
- Don't do your personal stuff at work. Just like you don't want your employer's time to eat into your own, it's not fair to your employer to eat into theirs. Do your personal finances, shopping and holiday booking at home, when your time's flexible (or you're sitting in front of the TV with the iPad).
- Sacrifice the office distractions. Those of us who want to get home on time need to sacrifice things at work including general office banter, long lunches, social media and time-wasting web-links. Make work a place you go to work, not to socialise, and keep the socialising time you have for your family and friends.
- Ensure meetings start and end on time. Meetings are necessary, but the time padding that surrounds the key points discussed is not. You can lead by example here. Drop a note with the meeting diary request saying you expect the meeting to start on time, write out an agenda, ask for the input of others, and be strict in ensuring it's adhered to. Start the meeting on time, even if one or more of the required participants are missing. Everyone will appreciate you for it.
- Keep your lunch breaks short, refreshing and separate from your work. Some think eating at their desk is actually productive, but any time-saving's completely lost if you end up spending twice the time on social media than you would have spent enjoying some fresh air. Get up from your desk, grab a bite to eat and take a short walk around the block. It'll invigorate you for getting the most out of your afternoon
- Set an alarm, each day, for one hour earlier than you plan to leave the office. This will remind you to get cracking on finishing any tasks that must be done that day. It's also a good opportunity to have any necessary conversations with your staff and mangers so you're not running out the door halfway through the moment.
- Shift the negative perception of leaving "early". When you leave on time, don't say you're "leaving early". Don't make up excuses on why you need to get home. Rather, encourage others to also get out the door. It's your right to leave at the end of the day, so be loud and proud about being productive. The more we promote the message, especially as managers, the more it should encourage others to do the same.
Remember, the goal is to prevent overtime. Work hard during the day, delegate where needed, avoid distractions and leave on time.
What are you tips? Let me know below.
Meredith is a contributing writer to Women's Agenda. She is is not a consultant, or a management guru. She's not even a published author. Just someone who's made plenty of mistakes, and learnt a few lessons along the way.