For many of us, leaving work on time seems impossible. Getting up from our desk, and walking out of the door at the time we are meant to should be simple, but it isn’t. We want to leave work on time, we aim to leave work on time, but yet, we don’t manage it.

Day after day, this cycle repeats.

So how can we shift our thinking? While working 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour late each day might not seem like much in isolation, when you add this little bit of time up each and every day, it becomes a huge chunk of our time. One of the things that often overwhelms us about work when things get out of balance is not having enough time for personal admin. All those little life tasks build up and we feel disorganised and out of control because we have no time to do them.

By getting our work done, then leaving on time, we leave ourselves time for our lives outside of work. Being productive during the working day improves our work-life balance. An important part of time management includes leaving time for our lives outside of work. It might seem a small thing, but one vital step in doing this is leaving work on time. After all, if Barack Obama manages to get home in time for dinner, then surely, so can we.

Here are some dos and donts to help you leave work on time.

Don’t:

Pick up the phone to answer one last call just before you’re due to leave. The call is bound to be a tricky one.

‘Just check’ your email one last time. You’ll get pulled back in to answering demands, and another email cycle will begin that could pull you off course for another half hour an hour.

Waste time during the day and then have to stay late to catch up on what you should have done earlier.

Create a crisis each day.

Make extra work for yourself. Instead, look for ways to be more productive in every instance possible.

Work in an office where there is a culture of all staying late just for show.

Let work fill your entire evening. Be especially careful if you work for yourself – you might have to do extra work on boundary setting.

Waste time on email.

Waste time on social media.

Feel guilty. By taking time away from work to wind down, recharge, and enjoy your life outside of work, you’ll be more productive and happier when you get back to the office.

Do

Expect it to take longer than you think to finish up for the day.

Leave clear instructions ahead of time for anyone you’re handing over to as you leave.

Stay late on the days it’s really vital to. You won’t mind this now and again if you leave on time normally.

Steer clear of other people who waste your time. Remember, you need that time so you can leave on time. Read my article on the Top 10 Ways To Say No And Save Time to help with this.

Get organised. Work hard.

Get your work done in a productive, efficient way during the day.

Think twice before deciding to take work home with you. This especially includes working from your smartphone or tablet (just because the technology means you can doesn’t mean you should).

Set a good example if you’re the boss.

Get in to the habit of leaving on time.

Think about results, productivity and getting things done, rather than sitting at your desk just for the sake of it. What you get done is the important thing, not how many hours it takes you.

Expect it to be tricky at first. Whenever we make a behaviour change this is the case.

Try leaving work on time today.

Frances Booth is author of The Distraction Trap: How to Focus in a Digital World. To get your free first chapter of The Distraction Trap, and for more productivity tips, join her mailing list here

 

This article was written by Frances Booth from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.