Secrets of People Who Leave Work on Time, Every Day

published Oct 19, 2016
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(Image credit: Kim Marcelo)

Fact: Unless you truly live for work, few things feel more rewarding than leaving your office on time everyday. However, as liberating as breaking away from your desk can be, the art of actually getting out of your workplace can truthfully be tricky to master.

It may seem effortless to head straight for the door at 5pm, but it requires a lot of practice, patience, and perseverance to get to a place where you can pack up and go with confidence. To help, we found uncovered the secrets behind professionals who flee the office guilt-free everyday. Read on for seven tips to leaving work in a timely (and tactful) fashion.

1. They plan their day properly.

The best way to get out of the office on time everyday is to set daily and weekly goals for yourself. Start your day off strong by planning out your “to-dos.” And here’s a tip: Overestimate how long each task will take to allow room for error—that way, you’ll feel both accomplished and ready to bounce before the day’s end.

2. They set a hard finish time.

One of the easiest ways to get stuck at work later than you planned is to not have an actual end time. Set a firm finish time everyday for yourself and stick do it, or better yet, make a habit of scheduling things right after your “go-home” time— dinner plans, work outs, or haircuts—in order to make yourself leave.

3. They follow an end-of-the-day routine.

Spend the last hour of your work day tying up loose ends and answering emails to get in the habit of winding-down before your finish time. Also, if possible, block out the last half hour of your workday on your office calendar as “busy” time in order to avoid late meetings and last-minute assignments.

4. They shorten their lunch breaks.

Think about it: If you shave ten minutes off of your daily lunch break, by the end of the week you’ll have given yourself almost an hour of extra work time. This means you’ll have a far greater chance of being able to accomplish all of your daily to-dos before it’s time to clock out—and therefore feel way less guilty about walking away from your work on time.

5. They avoid technological distractions.

As fun as direct messaging and social media can be during a dull workday, they’re also major time and energy drains. Make a point of turning off all of your notifications—at least for a chunk of the day—to keep focused on completing all your work by your scheduled finish time.

6. They say “no” to other office things.

By learning to say “no” to end-of-day work assignments and events (in a positive but proactive way) you’ll set a standard for yourself that makes leaving on time look like NBD. Instead, offer to help your boss and co-workers with tasks earlier in the day to send out the message that you’re dependable but serious about the work/life balance of leaving on time.

7. They keep a positive frame of mind about leaving.

At the end of the day (pun intended!) the people that leave the office on time have made a point of prioritizing their personal life over work—and they don’t feel guilty about it. Most importantly, they understand that there’s always going to be work to do, yet they value things outside of the office, too, and aren’t afraid to show it.